DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM REACH HALFWAY STAGE AT DUTCH TT
Just hours after Casey Stoner's stunning victory in the British GP, the Ducati Marlboro Team were back on the road with the sat-nav systems set for Assen, where the 78th edition of the "Dutch TT" takes place this Saturday. The legendary road race was chosen to form part of the inaugural World Championship back in 1949 and it has remained an integral part of the calendar ever since.
Last Sunday's success represented Stoner's 40th podium from 103 career starts, 19 of which have been victories. It is a ratio the Australian youngster would love to improve as he continues to work from an improved base set-up that he hopes can give him another shot at the podium in Holland.
The main target for Marco Melandri, who is a particular fan of Assen, is to put Sunday's difficult race behind him and to start off on the right foot in this Thursday's free practice sessions.
Stoner finished second in the Dutch TT last season, having already tasted the podium champagne there in the 125cc class back in 2004. Melandri has even sweeter memories, having taken his first ever win at Assen in the 125cc class in 1998, a success he repeated in 2002 on a 250. In MotoGP the Italian has made two podium appearances here, with third place in 2004 and second place in 2005.
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
"We can't wait to see Casey back in action at Assen, a track he went well at last year and where he arrives this year in frighteningly good form. We hope that he feels as comfortable with the new setting as he did at Donington and that he can fight for the victory again. For Marco, Assen was the venue of his first ever Grand Prix win back in 1998 and he has always been very strong here. We hope such a positive background can help him to start the weekend on the right foot and combine his undoubted talent with the great potential of our bike."
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team
"I've had good results at Assen in the past and the track, at least before they made the alterations, was spectacular. Then they got rid of what was my favourite corner in the world, the "De Bult" - a long off-camber left - which has been completely changed. Anyway, I still like the track and last year we found a good set-up for the bike, so I hope it's the same this year and that we can fight for the podium again. The team are working really hard and now we've got a base setting that we're a lot happier with. I really hope that all this hard work also bears fruit at this circuit."
MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati Marlboro Team
"Assen is a circuit I really like even though they've shortened and modified it so much that it isn't really the same circuit it once was. It is still a fun and flowing track, though, and I'd like to start out well from Thursday morning and then make progress for the rest of the weekend. I know that Holland isn't the best place to pin your hopes on stable weather but that would definitely make life easier."
Assen is the only circuit that has stayed as part of the World Championship since the first season back in 1949. In 2006 it under went major alterations, with the removal of the majority of the Northen Loop section, making way for the TT World fans' area. The rest of the circuit retains much of its original character, making it one of the most technical and physically demanding circuits on the calendar. Unlike a lot of other circuits, which feature long straights and medium-fast corners, Assen is tight, flowing and characterised by high-speed corners and quick changes in direction. Even the surface is unusual, cambered as it is in the style of a public road to aid drainage.