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Rossi, Lorenzo, Iannone, Marquez, Smith and Pedrosa were all present at the press conference that marks the start of the Motul TT Assen.
The official Press Conference kicked off round eight of the MotoGP™ World Championships at the legendary TT Circuit Assen, the only track to host an event every year since the World Championships began back in 1949.
Valentino Rossi arrives at Assen leading the championship standings by just one point from his teammate Jorge Lorenzo. The Italian has won at Assen eight times before (1x125cc, 1x250cc, 6xMotoGP™), although the last time he stood on the top step at the “Cathedral” was back in 2013. Rossi knows he has to improve his performance in qualifying to have any chance of beating Lorenzo: “Yeah, Jorge is better than me in qualifying; he’s always a little bit faster. It’s difficult because there are a lot of bikes that are very fast and Suzuki and Ducati have the extra soft tyre to help. The Hondas are also very fast, but Jorge has the same tyre and bike as me, so we need to improve. Starting from the third row is tough, in Barcelona I had a good pace and we didn’t lose much time to get to second, but already Jorge was far. Every weekend and track has a different story so we have to understand the potential of the bike and the tyres and make the maximum from Friday.”
Rossi also revealed that he will be evaluating a new frame over the course of the weekend after trying it out in a private test: “The plan was to try the new frame at two different tracks and it was important to try in Barcelona (Official test) because we can compare back to back from the race, but the conditions were very bad. We only tried the new frame in Aragon and I think we will try it tomorrow and to fully understand it in practice if we have something better or not.”
His teammate Jorge Lorenzo has won the last four races in a row, and is in the form of his life coming into the Dutch GP. Lorenzo has also led the last 103 laps across the line as he looks to add to his two MotoGP™ World Championship titles this season. The Spaniard feels he is experiencing one of the best moments of his career: “I have had some very good periods in my career, but probably we didn’t have this bike. Especially in the race our bike is very constant and we can keep a high pace, this is why we’ve dominated on Sunday till now. For now, I’m in good shape, for the first time I beat my trainer on the mountain bike so I’m really proud of that! But we still have to work hard and find a good set up.”
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez faces make or break time in Holland. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion heads into the weekend trailing Rossi by 69 points in the standings, after crashing out in front of his home fans at the Catalan GP. Marquez is hoping he can replicate his success from last year when he won at Assen, and will be trying out the 2014 frame on his RC213V in an effort to improve his fortunes: “Of course after the last two races we need a good result. Assen is a track I like, last year was good but it was also a mixed weather race. Two years ago Vale and Jorge were very strong. We’ll have to see how this weekend goes. We have a good confidence, unfortunately the Barcelona test was raining so we couldn’t try everything but we’ll try to do our best. I used on Monday after the race the 2014 frame, it was good and I will use it here.”
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone arrives in Assen having not finished outside of the top six all season. The Italian is now third in the Championship standings, after finishing fourth last time out in Barcelona. Iannone clearly feels that the GP15 will be suited to the nature of the Assen circuit: “It’s really important for me in this moment, a positive one, to keep working. The GP14 and 13 were very difficult in this track and I hope the GP15 improves on this track because the agility of this bike is much better. I hope for the podium. I want to fight for the podium in every race, but the victory is better!”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith is the leading Satellite rider in the standings after two consecutive fifth-placed finishes. The Brit currently has 68 points, just one less than Marquez, and 21 more than his nearest Satellite rival Cal Crutchlow. Smith is clearly enjoying the 2015 season so far compared to last year: “It’s been a big change this season and for the better. It’s been nice to showcase what I can really do. Obviously the main object for this season was to be consistent and to be the top Satellite rider; right now I have over a 20-point lead. Nothing spectacular but we’ve been finishing races and gaining experience.”
Dani Pedrosa continued his encouraging return from arm-pump surgery at the Catalan Grand Prix, after being forced to miss three races. The Spaniard managed to finish on the podium for the first time this season in Barcelona, and he will be hoping for more of the same at a circuit where he has some happy memories: “Yes my first victory was here when I was just a kid, it was a really happy moment for all of my family. I still remember it! Yeah, it was special to be on the podium at home (Catalan GP) after everything that has happened. I didn’t have the best race. I was 11th on the first lap after a bad start. After the first laps, I wasn’t progressing much but then I went well and hopefully we can do things better here. We need to do a better qualifying and finally do one good start!”
Smith brought the biggest laugh of the press conference when he was asked the secret to his fantastic race starts this year, to which he simply replied, “Big balls and brake late!”
The Motul TT Assen on-track action kicks off on Thursday with Moto3™ Free Practice at 9am local time.
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