There are two things to remember about Assen.
1. The race is on Saturday. It is an Assen tradition and that will not change.
2. This will be amazing.
I make no apologies for waxing lyrical about Assen. The Dutch TT circuit is my favourite, without a shadow of a doubt. It's a throwback to the days of proper circuits, none of those Tilke-inspired safety zones and viewing galleries that help to make Formula One a snoozefest. This is the 85th running of the event, and the 67th time the race has counted to the FIM world championship - the only circuit to have featured every year. There's a reason - it's awesome.
If you've got time, check out this classic race from 2002, where a certain Valentino Rossi was dominating the championship but involved in one of the all-time great battles here. If not, check out this onboard lap.
It doesn't have the dramatic climbs of Brno, or the blistering pace of Mugello, but there are so many passing opportunities all over the circuit. The last chicane, especially, has been known for some dramatics in the past. I can't wait.
In The News
- Not related to Assen, but there are still serious doubts about this year's Czech round in Brno. Despite having the biggest attendance in 2014, and all sides saying they were confident in securing the future of the round, the Automotodrom announced yesterday that they are suspending ticket sales for this year's event, due to insufficient funding.
- Essentially, the lease is held by Karel Abraham's father, Karel Snr. Dorna want a 2.1m euro fee upfront to go the circuit - which is small fry for what the weekend makes overall. Abraham wants public government support to pay the fee, but they seem reluctant. How he doesn't have 2.1m euros after a weekend crowd of 240,000 last year, I don't know, but with neither side seeming willing to put up the cash, and Dorna still requiring their fee, it doesn't look hopeful for this year.
- Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of Red Bull, has offered the use of the Red Bull Ring (the site of last weekend's F1 round) in Austria as backup, but there's no public news of how welcome that would be. Personally, it would be like going from watching Premier League football each week to watching local level chess clubs.
- The Automotodrom will announce its final decision next Monday. Here's hoping they get sorted.
- Elsewhere, KTM have been announced as the next manufacturer stepping up to the elite class, joining their Moto3 bikes. This could be another Red Bull link, as they are the primary sponsors of the Moto3 team.
- Back to Assen, the riders love it. Scott Redding, Eugene Laverty, Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Viñales, Bradley Smith, Miguel Oliveira, Xavier Simeon, among others, have all been talking about how much they love the Cathedral. See, it's not just me.
- Bradley Smith has been praising the work of the Suzuki team, after seeing it up close at the Catalunya test days. Meanwhile, different chassis seem to be the order of the day at the top of the field, with Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have tested a new chassis for their factory Yamahas, seemingly not playing to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" while Marc Marquez, wanting to fix his seemingly broken Honda - even though it looked too fast last time out, if anything - considering using last year's chassis, the one that won them the title at a canter.
- Karel Abraham looks to be missing out, after suffering a dislocated toe at the last race. His rumoured replacement? Dutch superbike rider Michael Van Der Mark.
- Out of the current field, Rossi unsurprisingly has the most wins at Assen, with six victories in the top class. More MotoGP facts here.
- Moto2 and Moto3 are settling into "who can stop X" championships. In the 600s, everybody is looking to stop Johann Zarco, although the improving performances of Tito Rabat are giving the others some optimism in the chase. Anthony West won last year, in wet conditions, repeating his 250cc win from 2003. More Moto2 facts here.
- Moto3 is still the Danny Kent show, after his great last lap at Barcelona saw him extend his championship lead. His first ever podium was in Assen in 2012, but neither he, or anyone else in the field, has won at Assen. More info here.
Last Time Out
Jorge Lorenzo won at a canter, while Johann Zarco and Danny Kent fought through the field for their victories. Click here for my recap.
Last Year In Assen
Click on the links for PDF race classifications from last year.
Qualifying - FRIDAY
Q1 - 13:10-13:25 BST - 08:10-08:25 EDT
Q2 - 13:35-13:50 BST - 08:35-08:50 EDT
QP - 14:05-14:50 BST - 09:05-09:50 EDT
QP - 11:35-12:20 BST - 06:35-07:20 EDT
Race - SATURDAY
MotoGP - 13:00 BST - 08:00 EDT
Moto2 - 11:20 BST - 06:20 EDT
Moto3 - 10:00 BST - 05:00 EDT