The shortest race turnaround of the season sees MotoGP make the cross-Channel trek from England to the Netherlands for the legendary Dutch TT event. Practice begins on Thursday morning just three clear days after the chequered flag heralded Casey Stoner as victor of the British Grand Prix at Donington Park last weekend.
Along with Estoril and Sachsenring, Assen is one of the few tracks on the calendar where Bridgestone is still to be victorious in MotoGP, although results in the last two years have been close. Casey Stoner was a strong runner-up in last year's event, finishing just 2 seconds from Assen specialist Valentino Rossi. In 2006, Kawasaki took its best ever dry weather result when Shinya Nakano crossed the line in second position less than 5 seconds from winner Nicky Hayden.
Bridgestone-shod Valentino Rossi extended his lead of the championship with second place in Britain last weekend, while Stoner's fine victory at Donington Park has advanced him to third in the overall classification. Assen is round nine of this season's 18-race championship.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
"Donington was a fantastic result for us, but we now face Assen which has been another of our more challenging circuits in the past. We have had some good second places with Casey last year and Shinya Nakano for Kawasaki back in 2006, but we have never been quite competitive enough to fight for the victory, something we must change this weekend. Assen is the halfway point of the year, so our aim must be to get good results with all our teams this weekend to set them up strongly for the second half from Sachsenring."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Race Tyre Development
"Assen's circuit characteristics are not dissimilar to those we saw at Donington last weekend with a disproportion of right and left-hand turns. However, Assen's most difficult aspect from a tyre point of view is the inconsistency of the asphalt around the lap, as a result of its substantial reprofiling for the 2006 event. The remodelled first sector has newer asphalt, while we must also contend with the older, more traditional track layout and asphalt. The first part of the lap is a very tight, slow section, which is followed by a series of complex 90-degree angle corners. Usually, we run soft to medium compound rear tyres, as we again try to find the balance between the all-important factors of tyre grip and durability, but temperatures can fluctuate so we must include a range of soft, medium and hard specification tyres in the weekend allocation."
Casey Stoner kick-started 2007 Assen preparations with a competitive performance in free practice, and was the only rider to dip under the 1m38s mark. One second separated the top 14 riders on the opening day. Qualifying was hit by rain and enabled Bridgestone riders to make good use of their wet weather tyres. The top five on the grid, led by Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, were all Bridgestone-shod. In a closely contested race, Valentino Rossi, starting from eleventh, took victory by less than 2 seconds from Stoner with Nicky Hayden third for Honda.