MotoGP Round-7, Assen Holland

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
The Dutch TT at Assen is the final MotoGP race before the circus comes to Laguna Seca on July 8,9&10. The actual race took place yesterday (Saturday) for the last time on the current course. Next year the course will be neutered, with large sections chopped-off to make way for further site development. This is a real shame, because the current Assen configuration is a unique mix of a very fast average speed, with a narrow and winding layout that mimics the original Assen public road GP circuit which has been on the Grand Prix calendar since the very first motorcycle GP.



-- Assen MotoGP Qualifying --
Row 1:
Pole: Valentino Rossi
2: Sete Gibernau
3: Marco Melandri

Row 2:
4: Shinya Nakano (Bridgestone)
5: Nicky Hayden
6: Colin Edwards

Row 3:
7: Loris Capirossi (Bridgestone)
8: Alex Barros
9: Max Biaggi

Row 4:
10: Alex Hoffman (Bridgestone)
11: Makoto Tamada
12: John Hopkins

Row 5:
13: Carlos Checa (Bridgestone)
14: Troy Bayliss
15: Kenny Roberts

Row 6:
16: Ruben Xaus
17: David Checa
18: Roberto Rolfo

Row 7:
19: Shane Byrne
20: James Ellison
21: Franco Battaini



Race day dawned chilly with wind and rain. However, by race time the rain had cleared and the track dried, though it was still cool and breezy. As the lights went out; Valentino Rossi made a poor getaway from the pole, dropping to around fifth place into turn one. Meanwhile Sete Gibernau made an excellent launch and lead the pack away from the line. Nicky Hayden charged around the outside trying to take the lead through turn-1, but Melandri ran wide, blocking Hayden and causing him to lose a spot into fourth place behind Nakano. Three corners later Hayden charged around the outside again, taking 3rd from Nakano, as Melandri passed Gibernau for the lead. Meanwhile, Rossi over-rode his Yamaha in an attempt to improve his position, causing him to run a bit wide, and he lost two spots to Capirossi and Edwards. Rossi quickly re-gained his form and took 6th back from Edwards. Hayden jumped Gibernau for 2nd into the final chicane, and Rossi did likewise to Capirossi, although Capirossi’s Ducati was easily able to out-accelerate Rossi’s Yamaha to the line. At the end of lap-1 the order stood: 1) Melandri, 2) Hayden 3) Gibernau, 4) Nakano, 5) Capirossi, 6) Rossi, 7) Edwards, 8) Hoffman, 9) Barros, 10) Hopkins.

Laps two and three were kinder to Rossi, as he out-braked Capirossi into the last Chicane at the end of lap-2 and then got a good enough drive out of it to out-brake Nakano for 4th into turn one at the start of lap-3. Colin Edwards got past Capirossi in the middle of the lap and by the end of the third lap he passed Nakano for 4th place. Meanwhile, the top four had pulled a slight gap on Edwards and Nakano, with another slight gap back from Nakano to Capirossi and the rest of the field.

Americans Hayden and Edwards both are looking impressive at this stage, with Hayden pressuring Melandri for the lead and Edwards gapping Nakano and reeling-in the lead pack. In fact, Colin Edwards just set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 5 and looks to be in-contact with the leaders. Unfortunately, Gibernau stuffed it up the inside of Hayden near the end of lap-6, causing Hayden to run wide, as Gibernau and Rossi snuck underneath. The top three began to pull away from Hayden and Edwards as they contested 4th place. It took Edwards another lap to get past Hayden, as the clouds started to move in and the threat of rain became a real concern. Once they settled down, Edwards and Hayden reeled the top-three back in, as Rossi jumped Gibernau for second at the final chicane.

With 10-laps to go, Rossi is all over Melandri and the running order is: 1) Melandri, 2) Rossi, 3) Gibernau, 4) Edwards, 5) Hayden, 6) Barros, 7) Capirossi, 8) Nakano, 9) Biaggi, 10) Hoffman. One lap later Rossi gets past Melandri but the top-five are still covered by less than two seconds but it is starting to stretch with Edwards passing Gibernau for 3rd, while Rossi and Melandri start to pull-away, as Gibernau and Hayden slip back about a second behind Edwards as they begin to battle over 4th place.

Rossi re-sets fast lap on worn tires with 6-laps to go, pulling about a second over Melandri then another second back to Edwards and another second back to Hayden and Gibernau. Meanwhile, Max Biaggi is working his way up from a poor start, passing Barros for 6th. As Hopkins, Tamada and Hoffman retire within two laps of each other with various mechanical and/or tire problems.

With three-laps to go, Melandri begins to reel Rossi back in, closing to within .3 sec at the start of the last lap. However, Rossi has just been cruising and well and truly has Melandri covered through the final lap, as he re-sets fastest lap again, winning by a second over Melandri, with Edwards a distant 3rd, Hayden 4th and Gibernau 5th.

Once again, it appears that Rossi is able to make relaxed starts and just toy with his opponents, before setting the fastest lap of the race on the last lap with worn tires. I’m beginning to believe that he is indeed the greatest motorcycle racer that ever lived.

Next Round: Redbull U.S. Grand Prix July 8th, 9th & 10th at Laguna Seca Raceway. MO will be there in force, hopefully with video and behind the scenes shots to bring you the sound of these awesome F-1 spec engines wailing through open exhausts. I’m scheduled to attend a Yamaha Media Event on Friday the 8th, where I will meet Valentino Rossi in person. I don’t think I’ll be able to actually “interview” him, but I should be able to get a photo and give him a handshake on behalf of all the MOrons out there. -Sean

-- FINAL RESULTS - MotoGP - Round 7 - Assen, Holland --

1.) Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
2.) Marco Melandri (Honda)
3.) Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
4.) Nicky Hayden (Honda)
5.) Sete Gibernau (Honda)
6.) Max Biaggi (Honda)
7.) Alex Barros (Honda)
8.) Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)
9.) Carlos Checa (Ducati)
10.) Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
11.) Troy Bayliss (Honda)
12.) Ruben Xaus (Yamaha)
13.) John Hopkins (Suzuki)
14.) Makoto Tamada (Honda)
15.) David Checa (Ducati)
16.) Kenny Roberts (Suzuki)
17.) Shane Byrne (Proton KR KTM)
18.) Roberto Rolfo (Ducati)
19.) James Ellison (Blata WCM)
20.) Franco Battaini (Blata WCM)
21.) Alex Hoffman - DNF - Mechanical



-- POINT STANDINGS AGTER 7 RACES--

1.) Valentino Rossi- 170 Points
2.) Marco Melandri- 107pts
3.) Max Biaggi- 87pts
4.) Sete Gibernau- 84pts
5.) Alex Barros- 74pts
6.) Colin Edwards- 73pts
7.) Nicky Hayden- 60pts
8.) Loris Capirossi- 49Pts
9.) Shinya Nakano- 48pts
10.) Carlos Checa- 40pts
11.) Troy Bayliss- 37pts
12.) Ruben Xaus- 28pts
13.) Olivier Jacque- 25pts
14.) John Hopkins- 19pts
15.) Makoto Tamada- 18pts
16.) Toni Elias- 15pts
17.) Jurgen VanDer Goorbergh- 12pts
18-Tie) Kenny Roberts- 9pts
18-Tie) Alex Hofmann- 9pts
20.) Roberto Rolfo- 7pts
21-Tie) James Ellison- 4pts
21-Tie) Franco Battaini- 4pts
23.) Tohru Ukawa- 1pt

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Sean Alexander
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