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Assen changes increase safety and visibility

Assen changes increase safety and visibility

The Circuit of Assen, known as the ‘Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing' due to it's long and illustrious heritage, will undergo a few changes ahead of this year's MotoGP race.

The Circuit of Assen, known as the ‘Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing' due to it's long and illustrious heritage, will undergo a few changes ahead of this year's MotoGP race. In a press release issued yesterday, the circuit organisers detailed some of the improvements due to be made in time for the A-Style TT Assen on June 30th:

"After the 76th A-style TT Assen in 2006, the MotoGP Grand Prix Safety Commission – whose members include: FIM Safety officer Claude Danis and MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Kenny Roberts Jr. – has requested that the Dutch TT organisation construct asphalt extension zones at selected points on the Assen circuit. The extension zones already installed in 2006 – near the Haar bend and Ruskenhoek – have proven their practical value time and again over the course of the last year. Think back to Colin Edwards' failed attempt to outbrake Nicky Hayden in the penultimate lap of the 2006 TT. He shot straight onto the asphalt extension zone near the Ruskenhoek and was able to make his way across the ‘side road' and get back on the track and in the race. That extension zone used to be a gravel pit. If it had stayed that way, the 2006 MotoGP race would have been decided 2 laps earlier than it eventually did and the fans would have missed out on the incredible denouement at the Geert Timmer bend in the last few yards of the race.

Before the start of the 2007 racing season, extra asphalt plateaus were installed at five locations on the TT circuit, namely: the north loop, Haar bend Madijk and Ossebroeken, at the exit of the Strubben bend, the exit of the Bult, Meeuwenmeer and the Ramshoek, the bend where Valentino Rossi slid off his machine during the first free practice at the 2006 Assen TT causing him to ‘bounce' around the gravel pit with ugly hand and foot injuries as the result.

The asphalt strips have all materialized during the last few weeks and we are now busy putting the finishing touches on the installation, so the first Dutch Open Championship race on Easter Monday can take place with the new layout without a hitch.

The gravel pit near the Meeuwenmeer bend has all but completely been replaced by a 20 metre wide asphalt strip. At the Ramshoek, just behind the kerbstones and the plot of artificial grass, another 20 metre wide strip of asphalt is being installed. An innocuous slip-up at these locations could have, in the past, resulted in totally demolished motorcycles. Both bends – where speeds can and do exceed 200 Km/h – are notorious for high-flying engines during a crash.

In the new North loop, a 20 metre wide asphalt strip lines the first two corners (Haar and Madijk) after which the extension zones gradually reduce to 10 metres wide. At the exits of the Strubben and the Bult, a 10 metre wide strip was constructed.

It is expected that this will enable riders who have gone off course to correct their trajectory more easily, which will reduce the number of crashes. On top of that, the motorcycles (and riders) that have slipped on the asphalt of the track itself will keep on sliding across the asphalt of the extension zones, enabling them to slow down before they hit the gravel pit. This will hopefully put an end to bouncing engines and riders. In all bends that were corrected, the order (as seen from the track itself) of surfaces will be: racetarmac, kerbstones, artificial grass, water drainage, asphalt and gravel.

Apart from all that, at the request of the MotoGP riders, the number of kerbstones has been increased at selected points along the track. A heli-port is being constructed near the Medical Centre, that was relocated and improved last year, and finally: a guard rail will be placed to the left of the track between Stekkenwal and Hoge Heide to create an extra service road at the outside of the Southern loop.

For spectators, the changes will also make a positive impact. The gravel pits around the Strubben bend in the new North loop will lose about a metre of gravel. Decreasing the angle of the slopes of the Strubben gravel pits which will result in an improvement of the view of the track from the North loop (Strubben-, TT World- and Ossebroeken-stands), the Haar bend-stands and the banking of the Strubben bend. In the past the incline of the gravel and the guard rails could sometimes block the view of the track and the riders.

Another bit of extra service to the public is the creation of the new concrete Strubben-stand (with plastic pod seats) which will also house new groups of toilets. The new Strubben-stand will be commissioned at the 77th A-style Assen TT. During that same event, the three TT World stands will still be steel framed stands with pod seats that are rented especially for the event. Directly after the June 30 TT-races, the building of the new concrete TT World-stands will commence. Just like the new Strubben-stands these will be equipped with plastic pod seats.

Totally new, are the Ossebroeken-stands, which will be rented for every Assen TT. When bringing in this extra steel framed stand with pod seats, the platform for the disabled will move in the direction of the Strubben bend and the standing room banking of the Ossebroeken will be extended along the Veenslang, thereby maintaining the amount of standing room places.

The coming period will also see the first ground works for the building of the prestigious TT World project. The first stake of the TT hall will be driven into the earth before the 2007 Dutch TT and the Hall will be followed by the TT Hotel and the TT Museum followed by the building of the Restaurant-, Bowling- and Gaming-hall."

MotoGP, 2007

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