TT Assen Circuit
Assen all set for action following press conference
Hiroshi Aoyama, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards were the MotoGP riders present at the Wednesday afternoon press conference ahead of the Iveco TT Assen.
The historic Assen circuit hosts the seventh round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend and the customary press conference was held on Wednesday afternoon at the Dutch track.
Thanks to his fourth victory of the campaign (a third consecutive win) in the previous round at Silverstone, Casey Stoner was the first rider to speak and the current Championship leader began proceedings by discussing his excellent form.
“The early part of the season was a bit up and down but the last few races have been amazing and everything has worked out really well,” said the Repsol Honda rider. “The last win at Silverstone was definitely the most cherished one, because it was very difficult with the tough conditions, so to come away with the win and Championship lead was perfect for us.”
From our past record at this track I think we can hope to be running at the front.
Stoner, who for the past four seasons has stood on the podium at Assen, continued: “We don’t just expect that form to continue, we know we have to continue to work hard. Everything’s worked so well for us so far, but that can change at any moment so we need to stay focused and see what we can do this weekend. From our past record at this track I think we can hope to be running at the front. We’ve had some really good success, and hopefully we can take it to try and get another podium this weekend.”
Jorge Lorenzo is eager to bounce back from his first DNF of the season at Silverstone, a result which brought to an end an incredible 25-race sequence of never finishing outside the top four and which saw him surrender the lead of the 2011 standings to Stoner.
“In Silverstone I made a mistake and couldn’t finish the race, it was a long run of finishing in the top four but now the record is over and we have to look to the future,” said the reigning World Champion, who won last year’s Assen race. “I think that we now have less pressure and can push a little bit more. Of course I don’t want to crash or get injured and lose second position. I have good memories at this track from all categories, so it’s maybe my favourite track and it’s great to be here. You have to be so smooth through the corners and I think I’ll be very comfortable here.”
Lorenzo is confident that the steps taken in the previous rounds with his Factory Yamaha Racing M1 machine can continue at Assen. “Over the past few races we have made some changes, and have improved by a few tenths so my confidence on the bike is rising, so let’s see if we can be closer sooner here than at the previous tracks.”
Nicky Hayden, a former Assen race winner (in 2006), was also in attendance and the Ducati Team rider will run with an updated Desmosedici chassis this weekend. He said: “I have always liked this track, it’s a special one with a lot of history. Even with the changes in recent years I like it. When the bike’s working well and you’re confident it can be a lot of fun.”
On his updated machine, the American said: “I don’t have such big changes myself, I have a different chassis this weekend which is a ‘step 2’ – it’s a bit softer in the front. It would be nice to have stable weather for that, we hope it can give me a help because we know I need to take a big step to be up the front and we’ll see what this offers.”
Earlier on Wednesday it was officially confirmed that Dani Pedrosa would miss this weekend as he continues to recover from injury, meaning that San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama will step into the factory Repsol Honda team in place of the absent Spaniard.
“I would like to say thanks to HRC and my team San Carlo Honda Gresini for letting me ride this factory bike, I think it’s a very good opportunity for me,” said Aoyama. “On the other hand I’m sorry for Dani because it means he is still at home and suffering with his injury. I hope he recovers soon.”
The Japanese rider missed last year’s Assen race himself through injury so will ride here for the first time in the premier class, but did take victory in his 250 title-winning campaign in 2009.
“Compared to last year I think I feel much better with the bike and team and I’ve been able to go a bit faster,” he said. “I’m still not satisfied but it’s clearly much better than last year, and now I have the opportunity to try the factory bike and team. If I can take something from this and take one step for myself I’ll be happy with that.”
Less than a fortnight after his miraculous return to action from a broken collarbone with a podium finish at Silverstone, Colin Edwards will aim for further success at a track he has enjoyed highs and lows at in the past.
“The collarbone didn’t cause me so much of a problem but at Silverstone I couldn’t move on the bike how I wanted because of the ribs. The muscles are working a bit more than they were a couple of weeks ago and I feel in a lot better condition than I was,” said the American, who has been feeling the benefits of an improved M1 package this season.
“I would say this is the closest we’ve ever been to the factory guys in terms of chassis, engine and electronics – we have a whole new package whereas last year we struggled a bit with some older stuff. We’re trying some new things and Yamaha are giving us new things. I like to work and see if I can find an advantage with this or that and we seem to be making some headway,” concluded Edwards.