Sometimes, you don't get everything you want done late at night, so a few more thoughts which got missed from yesterday's round up. The first thing worth noting - repeatedly, as it's the kind of thing which is easy to forget - is that the race at Assen is on Saturday, a hangover from the race's ancient history (the Dutch TT was first run in 1925, and switched to Assen the next year). This part of Holland was once dominated by a strict Protestant sect which prohibited any activity other than church on a Sunday (especially something as frivolous as motorcycle racing), and so the race was first run on the last Saturday of June, and that soon became a tradition. Nowadays, you can go out and do more or less what you please on a Sunday (though the locals might draw the line at sacrificing virgins in Satanic rituals), but the Saturday race stays.
Last night, Yamaha launched their 50th anniversary bike at a special event in a nearby hotel, which I was unable to attend due to scheduling problems, but the Yamaha staff are all walking around in their special red-and-white shirts, and I have to say they look pretty spiffy. Given that the red-and-white color scheme is Yamaha's original colors (the blue version coming over from a US branding exercise several years ago), I, and a few other people in the paddock, think they should stick with it.
The good news for the media at the pre-event press conference was the presence of Colin Edwards, and as ever, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider gave excellent value for money. While host Nick Harris - ever the gentleman - skirted around Edwards' 2006 last-corner crash, in which he threw away certain victory, the Texan himself was characteristically blunt. "I have plenty of great memories from this circuit," he said, "but I also have one really messed up one." Obviously, he didn't use the word "messed" preferring an old Anglo-Saxon term. "It's like a child abuse or a rape story," he said, the kind of memory you push to the back of your mind.
There was also a lot of talk about Valentino Rossi's new Ducati, especially as his Marlboro Ducati teammate will not be getting the same upgrades as Rossi until Laguna Seca (a consequence of the new engine required to mount the new rear subframe on), and after Hayden had made some politically correct noises about having already lost an engine, and understanding the difficulties Ducati faces in producing all of the necessary parts, Edwards was equally blunt. "Welcome to being Valentino Rossi's teammate," Edwards told Hayden, the Texan being all too familiar with the situation having spent three years as Rossi's teammate from 2005 to 2007.
Rossi had earlier addressed the engine situation, basically saying that they had given up on the old machine. What will they do if they run out of the new engines (Rossi has three to last the remaining 12 races), he was asked? "Then we start from the back," Rossi replied. The switch was not just an attempt to find some more competitiveness, it was also a chance to get 6 months head start on development for 2012, he said.
Rain is now falling, just as the bikes are about to head out onto the track for the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class, meaning that Rossi will be learning his way round the new bike in the wet, and the lessons being learned are of limited application. But those are the risks of gambling - it may pay off long term, but the short term view is definitely mixed.