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Saturday awaits MotoGP tradition at the A-Style TT Assen

Saturday awaits MotoGP tradition at the A-Style TT Assen

The MotoGP World Championship heads to the Netherlands this weekend, for round nine of the series.

Riding two races in less than seven days, the fastest turnaround on the MotoGP World Championship calendar takes place on June 28th. The A-Style TT Assen is the scene of the series´ ninth round, and this year marks the 60th ocassion that the everpresent Dutch circuit has featured on the calendar.

Whilst MotoGP may be `going Dutch´ for the halfway point of the 2008 season, thoughts of sharing the points are not on any rider´s mind. Valentino Rossi currently holds the advantage in the premier class with 162 points, a mere eleven more than nearest rival Dani Pedrosa. Both have seven podiums to their name thus far this year, most recently sharing the rostrum at Donington Park.

Rossi holds four premier class wins at Assen, and a further pair of podiums. The Fiat Yamaha rider emerged victorious from a thrilling race at the `Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing´ last year, and his only bad memory of the Dutch track is that of the 2006 race, at which he experienced a nasty practice crash that left him contemplating withdrawal from the Saturday activities.

Persistent rival Pedrosa has a record of a third and a fourth place from his pair of MotoGP visits to Assen, and can be expected as ever to challenge for the victory this time around. The Spaniard is expected to continue using the standard spring valve version of the Repsol Honda RC212V engine on Saturday, despite teammate Nicky Hayden´s having given a pneumatic valve version a full rider debut in round eight.

Second at last year's TT and the winner of the British Grand Prix, Casey Stoner´s title challenge has picked up speed over recent weeks. The reigning World Champion was unstoppable at Donington Park, although whether he can pull the same breakaway trick on the likes of Rossi and Pedrosa at Assen will be the source of much anticipation in the run-up to raceday.

Having missed the Catalunya round of the series with a concussion, Jorge Lorenzo returned to action in Britain looking to regain confidence. Sixth place from a lowly grid spot did much to elevate the Fiat Yamaha man´s spirits, and he now aims to complete a `holy trinity´ of race victories in the Netherlands after wins in 125cc and the past two 250cc duels there.

Colin Edwards fortunes at Assen have been nothing if not varied; in his previous visits he has crashed out whilst a corner away from victory, finished in the top six and been set on fire. With a record like that, who could begrudge a victory for the `Texas Tornado´ this weekend?

Andrea Dovizioso completes the premier class´ top six, ahead of 2006 Assen racewinner Nicky Hayden. The American´s victory is his only triumph outside of his homeland to date.

Rizla Suzuki will have Ben Spies on standby for the race after his debut and first MotoGP points at Donington Park, depending on the condition of injured regular rider Loris Capirossi. It also remains to be seen if Alice Team´s Toni Elias will participate in the race itself; in his three seasons in MotoGP, various injuries have always ruled him out of action before Saturday afternoon.


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