The Repsol Honda Team goes into its fourth race in five weekends at Assen, round nine of the 18-event 2008 MotoGP series and thus the World Championship's halfway point. The team travels to the Netherlands in very positive mood, Dani Pedrosa out to battle for victory once again, Nicky Hayden looking forward to his second race using the pneumatic-valve RCV engine.
Pedrosa battled for second place and finished third at last Sunday's British GP, despite qualifying on the third row. Currently second overall on points, the Spaniard is confident he can improve on that at Assen where he will be aiming to score his third win of 2008, following his victories at Jerez and Catalunya. Hayden finished seventh at Donington Park, in the process gathering vital data on the pneumatic-valve engine which he hopes to put to good use this weekend.
Assen is a unique MotoGP event, the only venue that remains on the calendar from the motorcycling World Championships' first season in 1949. It is also the only World Championship event that is not a Grand Prix. TT stands for Tourist Trophy, the name applied to many races during the early days of motorsport when touring machines, rather than pure-bred racers, were used. Assen is a fast track with high-speed, interlinking corners that prioritise handling and stability. The circuit is also banked in the middle like a public road which requires riders to deal with complex changes of camber as they enter and exit corners.
"We got some useful points at Donington last week but at Assen we want a better result. First of all, I hope the weather stays dry because that way everyone can prepare better for the race. It will be a tough event because the level in MotoGP at the moment is just incredibly high. Assen used to be a beautiful circuit but the big changes they made two years ago have spoiled some of its character. The track surface is quite smooth, which is good, but it's not as grippy as some other tracks. My favourite section is the final chicane, which is a legendary corner, the site of many great battles. Getting the set-up right at Assen is difficult, even though the new track layout doesn't require such special settings as the old circuit. You need to prepare the bike so that it is agile and provides good grip. Assen requires medium-hard tyres. As far as riding style goes you need to be a bit aggressive because you have to use a lot of strength when changing direction at high-speed. The atmosphere at Assen is very much a motorcycling atmosphere, with a lot of life in the town, in the restaurants, everywhere. The atmosphere is the most classic left in the World Championship."."
"I'm feeling pretty positive going into Assen. We learned a lot about the new engine last weekend -- fuel consumption, tyre life and so on -- that we hope we will be able to put to good use at Assen. I love the track. Sure it's changed a bit over the years but it's still pretty good. I really like the last section, the fast bit coming back towards the pits, the fifth-gear change of direction at Hogeheide. That's one of my best corners, you've definitely got to be physical with the bike through there. Changing direction fast at any speed is hard but in fifth gear it's even harder. Assen has caught some flack for changing the first part of the track but the place is still plenty safe with good runoff. I've had some good results there in the past. It's certainly been one of my better tracks and it's always been a good Michelin track. You need a little bit of everything from the bike there, but the one thing that stands out is all the banked corners."
Modified : 2006
Pole position: Left
Circuit Lenght: 4555m
Track width: 14m