This weekend marks the 71st year that Assen has hosted a World Championship motorcycle race, making it the only venue to have hosted every year since the beginning of World Championship in 1949. Being on the calendar for such a long time gives this track a special atmosphere to the riders, not to mention the historic battles which have taken place here.
Originally the Dutch TT was run Thursday-Saturday, rather than the traditional Friday-Sunday race weekend, due to the religious beliefs in the country. Assen has been fondly dubbed the 'Cathedral of Speed'. In 1975, for the first and only time in World Championship Grand Prix premier class racing, 2 riders were credited with the race win, as the timing officials were unable to separate Agostini and Sheene as they crossed the line with the same race time. Edwards and Hayden battled for the win in 2006, with Edwards unfortunately crashing out on the final corner, after a thrilling race long battle.
In more recent years we have watched the battle of Rossi and Marquez in 2015, as the desperate last-lap pushing and shoving lead to one of the more controversial race finishes in recent years. In 2016, for the first time the Dutch GP was run with the Friday-Sunday format, this was huge historically and would change the Dutch GP for years to come. However, the 2016 Dutch GP would see Australia’s Jack Miller take his maiden MotoGP win, aboard the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda, Miller won convincingly in tricky conditions, and was the first independent team winner, since Toni Elias at Estoril in 2006.
Yamaha are the most successful manufacturer at Assen, with 9 wins during the 4-stroke era. Honda have 7 wins, with Ducati scoring just 1 victory. Suzuki’s last win at Assen dates back to 1993, when Schwantz took victory.
Among current riders, Rossi is the most successful, with a colossal 10 wins over the years. Showing impressive form this year, despite some difficulties in the Yamaha camp, Rossi comes to Assen this year with a fire in his belly and hunger for victory.
After a stellar start to his rookie season, Quartararo will look to extend his Rookie of the Year lead and continue to impress at the front of the pack.
Friday’s opening sessions will be overcast, with sunshine creeping through in the early afternoon. Saturday and Sunday look to be clear, sunny and bright, with highs of 31ºC.