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MotoGP rolls on to the Netherlands for A-Style TT Assen

MotoGP rolls on to the Netherlands for A-Style TT Assen

In a run of two races in less than seven days, MotoGP arrives in Assen for the traditional event on the last Saturday in June - the latest edition of the ever-present TT race for the World Championship.

In a run of two races in less than seven days, MotoGP arrives in Assen for the traditional event on the last Saturday in June - the latest edition of the ever-present TT race for the World Championship.

Casey Stoner heads to the Netherlands direct from Donington, the scene of his fifth victory of the season. The Australian has a superb record thus far in 2007, with his lowest position being a highly respectable fifth, and he is currently sitting pretty 26 points ahead at the top of the MotoGP World Championship standings. Whatever happens at Assen this Saturday, Stoner will maintain his control of the classification at the midway point of the season. Last year the 21-year old finished fourth onboard a Honda in his rookie appearance at the Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing.

Five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi will be riding at one of his favourite tracks, hopefully in better condition than last year. The Italian has won at Assen five times in all classes, but was prevented from mounting a serious challenge for a sixth victory in 2006 by hand and foot injuries suffered in practice. Currently lying second in the championship, Rossi lost out on the chance to close the gap between himself and Stoner at Donington, and is already taking the young starlets title challenge very seriously indeed.

Third in the championship hunt, Dani Pedrosa has now gone 16 races without a victory, as the top two begin to distance themselves from the 2006 Rookie of the Year. Honda are yet to triumph with an 800cc bike, but took victory at Assen last year courtesy of World Champion Nicky Hayden for the factory team.

A second podium of the season at Donington takes Chris Vermeulen up to fourth in the classification, ahead of Suzuki team-mate John Hopkins and Honda satellite rider Marco Melandri in a group separated by just seven points.

Colin Edwards returns to Assen with some demons to avenge. The Texas Tornado was on course for victory at last seasons race, battling with Nicky Hayden for the win until losing control of his Yamaha M1 on the final corner. One smashed dashboard and a mixed season later, Edwards returns to the Netherlands with morale at a high, following on from a great pole and second place at Donington.

Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi and Toni Elias complete the top ten.

In 250cc, the championship picture became a much tighter affair following events in Britain. Runaway leader Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the race, whilst Andrea Dovizioso closed the previous 36 point gap to just 11 with a wet victory.

Lorenzo won last years race at Assen, ahead of the quarter litre categorys current third placed rider Alex de Angelis and Dovizioso. Saturdays race could be the turning point of the season: will Dovizioso be able to catch his Spanish rival, or will the reigning World Champion soak up the pressure and re-establish a gap?

Only the top three have a chance to leave Assen in charge, but a number of other riders can also make up some ground with a good performance. The main contender to break into the title picture is reigning 125cc World Champion Alvaro Bautista, who already holds his first pole and win in the category. Further behind, Hector Barbera and Julian Simon complete the top eight.

The 125cc category continues to be without a definitive leader, and has experienced seven different race winners this season. Hector Faubel is currently at the top of the standings, holding a 3 point advantage over Aspar team-mate Gabor Talmacsi.

Behind the Aspar duo, things are just as tightly packed. Lukas Pesek, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Simone Corsi are separated by just eight points, after varying form in recent races. All of the top six have a Grand Prix win to their name in 2007, and will be gunning for a second at Assen this Saturday.

Modifications to the Assen circuit over the winter of 2005/6 saw the length of the championships longest serving track cut from over 6km down to 4.555km/2.83miles, with the majority of the Northern Loop section giving way to new parking and viewing areas, although the legendary banked Strubben corner remains in situ. The Circuit van Drenthe is the only venue to have held a round of the MotoGP World Championship every year since its creation in 1949. The circuit was purpose built for the Dutch TT in 1954, with previous events having been held on public roads. The track is narrow, with rapid changes in direction, and is fully surrounded by grass banks and grandstands, providing excellent viewing for the hundreds of thousands of fanatical spectators who are drawn to the most prestigious event in Dutch motorsport every year. A huge favourite with riders, Assen is well known for its festive and extravagant atmosphere.

Practice for the A-Style TT Assen starts on Thursday, with the race itself taking place on the traditional Assen day of Saturday.


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