Author: Myanna Wedes

Title: Vinales ready to roar at Assen as title race gets more challenging

This weekend we are at the 2017 Assen Grand Prix in the Netherlands. Vinales wants to reset his mind and look towards a successful Grand Prix campaign in front of the Dutch crowds as he battles with the demons inside his head that sometimes throw his focus in to a whirlwind of frustration. Vinales teammate Valentino Rossi has opted to stick with the new chassis that they tested in Barcelona and knows that if he wants to be a World Champion again, he must hit every target with precision and allow mistakes to be in the past. A similar train of thought exists for Vinales, as he knows that the point’s gap is crucial. One race ago Vinales was twenty-six points in advance and now he is only seven points clear. He believes that the attitude of just taking points and coming second is not good enough. Winning is everything at this stage of the title race.

The last race in Barcelona was a race to forget for the Maverick. You could almost consider it a throw away result because he was so angry and frustrated from Friday onwards. Assen has always been a good circuit for Vinales and he is grateful for testing at the Barcelona circuit because it did allow him to improve. There are big question marks around whether Vinales can keep his cool and temper at a level that does not impact his overall performance. In his first year with Yamaha he is doing an incredible job although Rossi has more experience when it comes to the pressure that exists as a rider. Watching Vinales at Assen is going to be intriguing.

We must say that the Assen circuit is not for the faint hearted and requires constant attention because if you make an incorrect maneuverer, chances are you may just end up in the gravel traps or back in the garage. There are eighteen corners of pure mastery and those who pick the right set up and tyres are guaranteed to have a superb weekend no matter the weather patterns predicted. All of the work is done prior to Sunday. Andrea Dovizioso is aware of his chances and wants to remain quiet about the title, as it is not a core focal area. Dovi just wants to keep improving and riding his Ducati on the limit! “We have a real chance to fight with the really big riders”. However, the Ducati is still not at 100% and so there is room to grow.

Marc Marquez is very excited and continues to smile with optimism. He knows that the Assen circuit will be ready for him to push unlike the abrasive tarmac conditions in Barcelona. The weakest point of the Honda bike for him is stability and Marquez is looking to utilise FP1 to start the hard work. Marquez mentioned in the Thursday press conference that the character of the engine is getting better and that he feels as though they are closer to the Yamaha and Ducati bikes more than last year. The improvements have not been radical though are working at a good pace. With the weather at Assen, anything can happen really and it takes great courage to fight for the victory when a World Championship is being hunted for.

On the other hand, Jorge Lorenzo and Johann Zarco are looking to start the race with ferocity and precision. “The key is to start the race well” and Zarco is very capable of staying with the front-runners as we have seen in the past few races. The French rider is like one with his Yamaha bike and definitely shakes up the main title rivals when they have to deal with him biting at their heels. In terms of Lorenzo, he wants to keep progressing at a good rate and long term. The Spanish former Champion knows the hard work is still to come though is being rewarded by his adaptation with good results. He is becoming more relaxed and learning the positive and negative points of the bike day by day.

In terms of contractual news, Cal Crutchlow is one of the happiest in the paddock since renewing his contract with LCR Honda and then going exclusive for two years with Honda. The dream team is ready to conquer their goals and ambitions as Crutchlow showcases his dedication to more podiums and race victories. “It’s obviously very good news for me and I’ve worked hard over the last few years. To have another two year agreement is very positive. It’s my job to go as fast as I can and give the information I can – and I think my time with other manufacturers has helped too.”

Overall, Dani Pedrosa sums up the Assen circuit and situation perfectly for this weekend: “This is a race which usually requires great concentration in order to be prepared and deal with every situation the weekend may throw at us! You never know how much dry-track time you’ll get there and having to try several tyres during the weekend you must fully exploit every session. It’s a fast track that I like and we’ll push from Friday morning ready to make our best to be able to fight again at the front on Sunday”.

Credit: Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

Credit: Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

Credit: LCR Honda MotoGP Team and CormacGP

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.