And just like that, Round 9 of the 2021 MotoGP™ campaign is upon us. A return to the TT Circuit Assen is getting everyone’s juices flowing as Sachsenring winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) gets set to put his fitness and RC213V to the test at a very different circuit. The eight-time World Champion was joined in the Motul TT Assen Pre-Event Press Conference by World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to preview the weekend ahead.
Back to Marc Marquez and HRC’s “real situation” at Assen
Those were the words of Marc Marquez on Thursday, as a completely different challenge awaits in the Netherlands. An emotional return to victory hasn’t been forgotten about, it was much needed for Marc Marquez, his team and Honda, but it’s definitely been wrapped up and put to one side for now. It’s back to business at a circuit Marc Marquez isn’t as dominant at, and the number 93 acknowledged his and HRC’s issues are far from over.
“It was an important victory on Sunday, one of the most important, or the hardest moment, of my career. This victory arrived in a very important moment because we were in a very deep situation, especially to me but also to the team and to Honda, because it was a long time without a victory but I think here we will come back to our real situation,” began Marquez.
“But anyway it was important that victory before the summer break, we will try to pass Assen and then more than one month to continue our programme, our process, and lets see if we can ride in a better way than Mugello and Montmelo, but I can’t expect to be on the same level as the Sachsenring.”
“Very difficult” for Rossi to ride for Aramco Racing Team VR46 in 2022
The big news on Thursday at the Dutch TT was Rossi’s VR46 outfit confirming their manufacturer for the next three years in the premier class. The brand-new Aramco Racing Team VR46 will race Ducatis from 2022-2024, and of course, The Doctor is yet to confirm his future beyond the end of the season.
Asked whether he’s any closer to a decision regarding his own future, this is what the nine-time World Champion had to say:
“Yeah, I still haven’t decided because I will think more deeply during this break. I also have to speak with Yamaha and with the team, but you know we want to try for better performance and better results for sure so. The start of the season until this moment was not fantastic, so under this point of view, I think that will be very difficult that I will race next year. Always the Prince pushes me to race next year in my team with the Ducati, but at the moment I think that will be very difficult.”
An eager return to an all-time classic venue
Everyone loves Assen. It’s called the Cathedral of Speed for a reason. So as expected, the riders in the Press Conference were all looking forwards to tackling the tremendous 4.5km layout before heading off on a five-week summer break.
Quartararo: “Yes, so excited because it’s one of my favourite tracks. It’s totally different from the Sachsenring, the bike is going well. In 2019 I was so happy, it’s track I really like, it’s so fast and I think we can do really well, we feel great on the bike. Sachsenring was a tough one for us, I think the podium was the best we could have achieved on Sunday and yeah, really happy about that one.”
Miller: “Yeah for sure the memories flood back. It’s kind of been an up and down track through my career for sure that massive highlight in ’16 but it’s one I’ve never really gelled with in the dry. But I’m keen to get here again third year, I struggled a little bit in 2019 but as Johann said we have a bike that should be able to fight for the podium week in week out. It just wasn’t our day last week on Sunday, I felt mega all weekend just wasn’t able to put it together in the race. The boys rode well and we got out of there with some decent points, onto here and then the summer break so hopefully we can end the first half of the season on a high note, that would be nice and come into the second half of the season with more of a clear idea of what we need to do.”
Oliveira: “For sure the moment that we are right now is strong and we are motivated we feel better than ever. Assen is a track where we come to discover with this new package that we have, that it's promising. Every race track that we have been we could be straightaway competitive and we can at least show already, on Friday, our potential and of course tomorrow it's going to be a key day for us also, to quickly find the way to set up the bike and again be competitive this weekend.”
Rossi: “Yeah Assen is a great place. It’s the track that more or less every rider loves because, first of all, it is the track with the most history in motorcycle racing and was on the calendar from the beginning, and secondly, the layout is fantastic. Now it is modified but it remains the taste of the old Assen and the ride here is always a great pleasure.”
The MotoGP™ riders will be on track for the first time at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Friday morning for FP1. Tune in to VideoPass to watch every ounce of the weekend’s action!