The Dutch TT is one of the most anticipated races in the MotoGP calendar, as the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ has played host to some of the most memorable races in the history of the premier class championship. The 2016 championship has seen misfortune for the title contenders, with Rossi and Lorenzo suffering two DNF’s while Marquez had a crash-marred outing in France. Yet, all three of them have produced stellar races and Marquez now leads the championship with Lorenzo ten points adrift and Rossi twenty two points behind.
The futures of some more riders have been decided. Cal Crutchlow has found a very optimistic boss in Lucio Cecchinello, who has decided to back him and allowed him to stay at LCR Honda for the next year. Cecchinello can look forward to another expensive season with Crutchlow if things continue as they have this season. Interestingly, Crutchlow has said that the Suzuki suits his style of riding, after the Ducati suited his style when he was on the Tech3 Yamaha and the Honda suited his style of riding when he rode the Ducati. Oh well, what do I know?
Stefan Bradl has been shunted out of Aprilia, and Aleix Espargaro has confirmed he will be heading to Aprilia next season in his place. Bautista supposedly has been informed that Aprilia want him in the team. This could be a difficult proposition given that Sam Lowes already has a contract for 2017 with Aprilia, and Espargaro is also coming in to the team. Rins has finally gotten his wish, as Suzuki has announced he will be given the second seat after Iannone grabbed the first. Rins even consulted Maverick Vinales before making his decision final, apparently. The fate of riders from the other satellite teams is yet undecided.
Chassis usage was at the forefront of the developments at Assen. Rossi has rejected the latest frame, while Lorenzo is not using the new frame for the race. Marquez is still on the 2014 chassis, citing that as the most balanced. Tire choices will also be critical, with most riders being wary of a race in the rain at Assen. It can only be hoped that rain on race day will separate the men from the boys.
Assen has not been kind to Lorenzo, with the Spaniard taking only one victory and a few broken bones at the track. Rossi on the other hand has a stellar record at Assen. Marquez has done pretty well too, and the wet may benefit Ducati and Suzuki by slowing things down a bit. It must be remembered that Assen is a fast, flowing and treacherous track in the dry and more so in the wet.
Marc Marquez has surprised everyone by being a very mature rider, far from his crash and bash days of yore. He has scored points in every race and not once knocked off another rider. Lorenzo’s moodiness continues with the Spaniard getting philosophical about life and it’s turns as a justification for his expected mediocrity at Assen. Rossi is charged at the prospect of taking another win at his happy hunting ground, while Marquez silently looks to stay ahead. Dovizioso is another rider that can be counted on to make an impression at Assen if Iannone allows him to this time around. Don’t forget Iannone starts from the back of the grid for taking out Lorenzo at Catalunya. Maverick Vinales could spring a surprise on the Suzuki, given his excitement upon securing his Yamaha seat. Watch out for the Pramac Ducati riders as well.
The future of design and development looks to change after the Grand Prix Commission banned the use of aerodynamic wings in call classes from 2017, with wings that meet the current technical regulations being allowed to be used for the remainder of the season. This development looks to hit Ducati hard, given that they have spent the most resources on developing the wings. A lack of consensus among the manufacturers is cited as the reason for the ban.
Assen looks to deal a very unjust hand of cards out to the grid this time around. Who picked what, we will know on Sunday.