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The riders made their way to Assen with torrential rain upon them and the weather gods delivering a gift of 100% sunshine for the entire race weekend. Talk about lucky and crazy weather systems all across the world at the present moment. Right now the focus is on whether Jorge Lorenzo can bag a sweet “3” victories, if Marc Marquez can extend his title lead and how Valentino Rossi has become Mr Consistent in 2018 in contrast to Andrea Dovizioso who usually holds that crown. We are still waiting on news about Dani Pedrosa and his 2019 plans with rumours that he will be on a satellite independent Yamaha. According to reports, Pedrosa will have some news closer towards the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring. As we look towards the Dutch Grand Prix, questions have been thrown around at Lorenzo regarding the World Championship, if Rossi will have his own MotoGP team in 2019 and the strategy Marquez has in play to continue running away at the front even with added pressure due to his mistakes already made in the current season.

Marquez has a comfortable lead however his mentality is not to focus on how many points there are. In fact, the Spanish rider just wants to continue business as normal. Marquez: “Montmelo was overall a great weekend because we increase the advantage in the Championship. On Monday, we did the test and we did a few steps which we will work here again. We need to analyse if it is a good step. Assen is a circuit I like especially turn 4 is really nice and the last part of the circuit and I enjoy it a lot here. I am quite constant every year here, ride well and find a good rhythm. We hope this year it continues. We will try to be on the podium but anyway, we will see because it looks like it will be sunny. This can change a lot”. Marquez has a challenge with who his rivals and championship chasers are because on a race by race assessment, the points continue to change and some riders increase and others decrease their chances. As Marquez discussed his rivals in the Thursday press conference, Rossi was giving a good stare off and listening very closely to the Honda rider. It was interesting to see how Rossi’s ears pricked up and everything Marquez said became incredibly relevant to the 2018 season battle. Right now, the top five to six riders are where Marquez sees competition. There is not just one rider. There are many different races, points and situations. Marquez: “Yamaha is there, Valentino is second and also the Ducati is in a very good way, shape and level. We will try to defend and be in the fight for the victory”. 

On the other side of the battle is the Doctor whom is the master of mind games and control. Rossi is an incredible rider and for the first time this year he can see a tenth World Championship opportunity which is exciting for fans around the world. It has been a rough two years for Rossi who felt that he was not fast enough nor happy with the bike set up. With dedication and a strong team, things have changed and Rossi is on top of his game with quality results and a quiet yet ferocious demeanour. Rossi: “Unfortunately, at the test we did not have a lot to try but we had some small things. I was optimistic to improve a little bit but we did not improve on Monday. At the end I was not able to go faster but this track is fantastic and I like it a lot. Usually, the M1 will work well here. The weather forecast is optimistic and fantastic because it is one of the tracks you enjoy more with MotoGP. We try. I arrive from some podiums and continue in the same way.” Rossi could be playing games or being serious, we will have to wait and see how the results pan out on Sunday to see how good or bad the Yamaha is at this present moment. There are also rumours circulating about Rossi being involved in a Yamaha team next year and of course we feel his future after racing will be running a team and to win more titles as a constructor. Rossi: “Speaking for me, no difference. It is good for everything and for Yamaha to have four bikes. It will be a good project with a good sponsor and with good riders and one is Franco and he would be very happy if he could ride the Yamaha. With the Tech3 and Zarco, it is good to have other fast riders on the bike and can help to improve the bike”. He did no want to give much away and smiled after the questions were asked. Who knows what the Doctor has up his sleeves!

In terms of Johann Zarco, he appears to have lost his mojo quite significantly over the last few races. Possibly, thoughts creeping in as to whether he can improve, the pressure he puts on himself as a rider and also when he crashed out of his home Grand Prix. We feel since Le Mans, Zarco has been a different rider. The comfort level of Zarco is not there and he looks to be doubting himself quite a number of times throughout a race weekend. Zarco: “I hope to find back the competitive Zarco. It is true that since Le Mans, the last races I have been complicated and depressive, I don’t shave anymore. I am so happy to be here on Thursday but anyway when it is hard you learn things. Last year was an interesting Grand Prix. This year, it looks like the weather will be much more stable. It can be a good start. We must stay cool and improve with the team, find the good things on the bike to prepare for the race and the factory guys are pretty good from Friday to Sunday to find the small things that during the race can make the difference. I hope to feel comfortable on Sunday. The focus at the test was to find a good set up, feel more comfortable and be fast. I was struggling in the race at Barcelona. I had to close the gas and this make the race very complicated. On the next day, I was calm and going faster. Nothing to develop on the bike. It is important to work on ourselves and myself”. 

It is interesting to hear Zarco talk about his mindset and focus because if you have one lapse of concentration or judgment, you can find yourself scoring poor results and feeling upset. Zarco needs to regain his mojo and go for it because next year he will be with KTM and the challenges will only just begin again. We hope to see Zarco up the front with riders like Lorenzo, Crutchlow, Marquez, Rossi and DesmoDovi. The opposite can be said for Lorenzo who is in fine form, confident, feeling strong, working hard and speaking loudly with his results. The Spanish Ducati rider is having the time of his life and there are questions about a potential World Championship with his ability on the Ducati after two stellar races. Lorenzo: I think we are going to be lucky to have four sunny days and this is very important. It is nice to ride in sunny conditions. Four the last four to five years, I did not get good results in Assen. Anyway as I always say, every year is another year. I have good confidence. Today, I watched back last years race and saw the Ducati’s working very well for example Petrucci. This means our bike can work here and now that we have good pace. Lets go with an open mentality and see what happens. It has been a hard period and a period that I struggle so much, work so much and about everything to find the little details to be competitive. It was finally worth it. Great emotion in Mugello and Montmelo. Now we start to work again. Speaking seriously, we want to fight for the title to the end. We need to be calm. We won two races, we still need to demonstrate many things at different tracks. We work hard”. 

As the riders have said, this is a circuit where anything can happen and showcase the positive and negative points of every bike and rider! Be prepared for a fight because Lorenzo, Marquez, Rossi, Crutchlow and Dovi are ready to go head to head. 

Credit: www.motogp.com

Credit: www.motogp.com

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.