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MotoGP rolls into Assen

MotoGP rolls into Assen

MotoGP rolls into Assen

After an eventful race-day in Catalunya, teams, riders and fans head directly to Holland for the A-Style TT Assen, as the MotoGP whirlwind tour continues at breakneck speed. The race is the second in a series of three in two weeks, in a run which will prove critical for the title race.

The big talking point from the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya last week was a first corner melee which left three riders unable to line up for the restart and a number of others with minor injuries. Of the riders absent the second time the red light went out, Sete Gibernau is the only one definitely out of Saturday's race. Ducati Marlboro's Spanish star underwent surgery on his fractured left collarbone this Tuesday, and it is still not known when he will return to action.

Marco Melandri has been diagnosed with concussion and an encephalic injury, in addition to a cervical contusion and a paracervical haematoma. The Fortuna Honda rider also suffered a series of other contusions and injuries, although on a far smaller scale. His participation in the A-Style TT Assen is a major doubt, having been under observation at a Barcelona Intensive Care unit undergoing further tests to determine when he will be able to make his comeback.

Meanwhile, Loris Capirossi is a confirmed participant for the Dutch race. The Italian rider left Catalunya General Hospital near Barcelona on Monday after being kept in overnight for observation and has returned to his home in Monte Carlo. Medical checks have confirmed that the Italian rider can take part in the next round of the championship.

Capirossi's participation in the race will be crucial to his Championship chances, as he currently lies 20 points behind pace-setter Nicky Hayden in the overall classification. The top five could see any number of changes after the three-race run, with reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi's consecutive wins at Mugello and Catalunya taking him up to third in the standings. Marco Melandri trails his compatriot by a single point, making the date of his MotoGP return yet more important. Dani Pedrosa, unable to take points from his home Grand Prix after a crash on his spare bike, lies in fifth.

The top ten is completed by Casey Stoner, Colin Edwards, Toni Elias, Makoto Tamada and a resurgent Kenny Roberts Jr., who celebrated a return to the podium after an extended absence at Montmelo.

Assen is the oldest circuit on the MotoGP World Championship calendar, having hosted a round of the series every year since its inception in 1949. It has undergone modifications throughout the years, but the latest set of modifications at the 'Cathedral' of motorcycle racing is at the famous North Loop, now newly profiled as a number of tight right-hand corners. The changes have cut the length of the circuit considerably, from 5.997 to 4.555km.

From October 2005 to this April, 3 million Euros were invested in track improvement materials, including 70,000 m3 of earth and 12,000 tons of asphalt.

Due to the changes, the riders will all get extra practice time Thursday morning, with MotoGP having an hour and a half session beginning at 9:25am local time. Raceday in Assen as ever is on Saturday, on the traditional last weekend in June, with the MotoGP race starting at 2pm local.


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