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Full GP Review: A-Style TT Assen

Full GP Review: A-Style TT Assen

A review of the action from round nine of the MotoGP World Championship, backed-up with some of the weekend´s best video footage.

The MotoGP World Championship arrived in the Netherlands last week with expectations at a high for the A-Style TT Assen. The historic Assen Circuit, known colloquially as the `Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing´ was set for another round of action on June 28th. The number of different lines that can be taken on the track, as illustrated by an OnBoard comparison of John Hopkins and Dani Pedrosa´s different approaches to the task at hand, make for some great battles between the premier class riders.

With the race taking place on a Saturday, proceedings were brought forward by a day for the teams and riders. This and the quickest turnaround on the 2008 calendar served to disorientate the riders slightly, although some embraced the feeling yet further. A selection of World Championship riders were put under pressure with a trial on the Desdemona Flight Simulator, at an airbase close to Assen in a pre-event activity.

Those able to stomach some sustenance after the test of reactions returned to the track for dinner in their respective dining areas, the ins-and-outs of which were explained in a guided tour of the Rizla Suzuki Hospitality by Gerry Biasi. He was providing the food for the returning Loris Capirossi, back in action after missing the Donington race with a hand injury. The veteran had been replaced by Ben Spies for the British date, whose performances had been hailed by the likes of mentor Kevin Schwantz.

Capirossi was present in the Assen press conference, alongside the winner of the previous round, Casey Stoner. The latter would be the main protagonist of round nine, starting on Thursday morning in FP1 when he beat the lap record in his first practice session.

Capirossi was not so fortunate in FP2 when he suffered a crash that ruled him out of any further part in the race weekend. A nasty forearm cut was treated in the Clinica Mobile, with Rizla Suzuki Team Manager Paul Denning confirming his charge´s withdrawal from competition.

John Hopkins made a positive start to the weekend in Assen, with the rear grip problems experienced by Kawasaki not troubling the Anglo-American too much. His Crew Chief, Fiorenzo Fanali explained the causes and remedies of chattering after a wet FP3, whilst LCR Honda´s Christophe Bourguignon ran through the suspension specifics required by an 800cc machine.

Friday afternoon´s qualifying session in the dry eventually marked an end to Hopkins´ A-Style TT Assen, when he crashed out late on in the session. He suffered a leg injury, explained after the examination by Team Manager Michael Bartholemy.

Casey Stoner qualified on pole position for the third time in as many races, and emphasised his good feeling with the Ducati Desmosedici GP8 in the post-session Press Conference. His boss in the Italian factory team, Livio Suppo, also confirmed on the Friday that Sete Gibernau would be brought in for another test with the 800cc machine.

Although rain had fallen in the 125cc and 250cc showdowns, the MotoGP race was declared a dry event. However, the track was not without its difficulties for the premier class competitors, as Valentino Rossi found out to his cost in a first-lap collision with Randy de Puniet. Rossi and De Puniet lamented the incident later on in the day, with Rossi in particular having paid the price by conceding the World Championship lead to Dani Pedrosa. The race was won by Stoner, his second victory in less than seven days.

The action in Assen continued right up to the final corner, and as in 2006 it involved Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards. This time the duo were in the fight for third, ending when Hayden´s Honda RC212V broke down just metres from the finish line.


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