June 26th, 2015
Jeremy Burgess was famous for finding that special something on Sunday morning that gave Valentino Rossi the edge in the race in the afternoon. It is a tradition carried on by Silvano Galbusera, who has replaced Burgess since the start of the 2014 season. Galbusera, too, always seems to find that extra little tweak during warm up that makes the difference between cruising in fourth or finishing on the podium, and even on the top step. The fact that it has continued since Burgess' departure suggests that the tweaks were very much a collaborative effort, with input coming from his data engineers and mechanics, as well as the rider himself, of course.
Two weeks ago in Barcelona, Rossi's team appeared to have found something extra special. For it did not just work on the Sunday in Catalonia, taking Rossi from the third row all the way up to 2nd, but it has even carried through to Assen, some 1600km further north. Rossi was quick from the moment he rolled out of pit lane for the first time at Assen, and has been at or near the top of the timesheets ever since. In this form, Rossi may well have expected to have been on the front row, but he went better than that. Putting in one of the best laps of his recent career with a couple of minutes to go, he simply hammered the opposition. As a sign of just how dominant he was at Assen, he led the second fastest man, Aleix Espargaro, by nearly a quarter of a second. The next quarter of a second difference covers second place to eleventh, from Aleix Espargaro to Danilo Petrucci. It is incredibly close at Assen, except at the front. One man reigns supreme.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and others after qualifying at Assen:
Tito Rabat, current Moto2 world champion, went into the session having gone two tenths of a second quicker than anyone else, with only Xavier Simeon and Johann Zarco within half a second. Conditions were dry and clear.
Results and summary of qualifying practice at Assen:
Marc Marquez has topped the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class, laying down an impressive pace to lead the way. The Repsol Honda rider ended in front of two Movistar Yamaha riders, Valentino Rossi taking 2nd, while Jorge Lorenzo finished in 3rd. Both men had good pace, but it was Lorenzo's which looked closer to the run of 1'33s which Marquez put down.
Dani Pedrosa was two tenths behind Lorenzo, and four tenths behind his teammate, while Cal Crutchlow came home in 5th, two tenths behind Pedrosa. Aleix Espargaro was the first of the Suzukis, just behind Crutchlow and just ahead of the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and the Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith.
Results of qualifying for Moto3 at Assen:
Valentino Rossi has ended a rain-disrupted final session of free practice to head into qualifying as the fastest man. FP3 was a session of two parts, with light rain chasing the pack back into the pits after the first quarter of an hour. It never rained enough to affect the track, but caution prevailed, leaving everyone to wait for the final 12 minutes or so before returning to the track to pursue a coveted spot in Q2.
Rossi was fast in those final minutes, but only made sure of top spot at the very end of the session. He bumped his Movistar Yamaha teammate back into 2nd, after Lorenzo put in two searing laps to briefly take over at the top. The two factory Ducatis follow the Yamahas, Andrea Iannone leading Andrea Dovizioso, while Bradley Smith secured his spot in Q with a solid lap in the last few minutes. Smith finished ahead of the Repsol Honda pairing, Marc Marquez leading Dani Pedrosa. Marquez had led for the first part of the session, but dropped down the field when the pace hotted up.
Maverick Viñales was the only Suzuki rider to get into Q2, Aleix Espargaro ending up in 12th, and having to come through Q1. Pol Espargaro made it four Yamahas through to Q2, ending just ahead of Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow and Pedrosa were the only riders not to improve their times in FP3.
Danny Kent has continued his reign in Moto3, but he is starting to be seriously challenged. Kent was fastest almost throughout the final session of free practice, but Romano Fenati closed the gap towards the very end. Making things more interesting, both Kent and Fenati set their quickest times on their own, without any help from a tow. The difference between the two was less than seven hundredths of a second.
Jorge Navarro was 3rd fastest, a third of a second behind Kent, while Alexis Masbou moved up to 4th.
If the Honda is so bad, why are two RC213Vs at the top of the timesheets? That seems like a very valid question, given the public struggles which all of the Honda riders have had with the bike this year. Has the 2014 chassis finally fixed the Honda's ailments? Is Márquez back?
If only it were that simple. Firstly, of course, Marc Márquez never went away. The double world champion still possesses a gargantuan talent, and the desire and will to use it. He was hampered by many aspects of the 2015 bike, including both the engine and the chassis. The 2015 chassis, he explained at Assen, was more precise and could be used more accurately. Unfortunately, the only way to get the best out of it was to ride it like every lap was a qualifying lap. That level of intensity is just not sustainable over race distance. At some point, you will make a mistake, and the 2015 chassis punishes mistakes mercilessly. So HRC have reverted to a hybrid version, using a 2014 chassis and the new swingarm which Márquez first tested at Le Mans. That works better for Márquez: he has been forced to sacrifice some precision, but at least now he has a chance to recover from mistakes.
Dorna today issued the following press release, confirming that the Brno round will take place this year:
Czech Republic GP confirmed for 2015
Automotodrom Brno has informed Dorna of the difficulties to receive financial resources from the public sector for the 2014 and 2015 Grand Prix despite the fact that such financial resources had been promised several times to be released.
Under these circumstances, Automotodrom has asked Dorna about the possibility of cancelling the 2015 Grand Prix but Dorna believes that cancelling the MotoGP race in Brno would neither be in the interest of the FIM, teams, sponsors and Automotodrom itself.
Dorna have issued the following press release on the news that the Dutch round of MotoGP will be switching to Sunday from 2016:
From 2016 the TT Assen will be on Sunday
After carefully considering all the pros & cons, the TT Board has decided to move the race day from Saturday to Sunday, starting in 2016.
The TT Assen race day will be held on the last Sunday in June. This will have benefits for the future of the TT Racetrack, the preservation of the MotoGP and motorcycle racing in the Netherlands in general.
By changing to Sunday from 2016, it is expected that larger numbers of spectators will visit the track. In the current Dutch leisure pattern a top sporting event on a Sunday is more attractive than on a Saturday. On Sundays there is also more media exposure for these top sporting events, which is something the TT Assen will definitely benefit from. This has also proven to increase visitor numbers. By moving the training days to Friday and Saturday, the TT Assen becomes more attractive for a multi-day visit and therefore also for the purchase of all-in tickets.
The Dutch round of MotoGP, the Dutch TT at Assen, is to switch from Saturday to Sunday. From 2016, the event will surrender its unique status as the only MotoGP round to be held on Saturday, and fall in line with the rest of the MotoGP races. It will, however, remain on the last weekend of June, but will now be on the last Sunday, rather than the last Saturday of June.
The decision was taken by the circuit management after long consideration and discussions with many of the parties who have an interest in the race. The circuit also commissioned market research into the use of leisure time among the Dutch public, which showed that Sunday is the day most people set aside to spend attending sporting events, such as the Dutch TT. Circuit director Peter Oosterbaan and chairman Arjan Bos said that the market they were operating in was such that Sunday was a better day all round for sporting events. "All of the major football games, all of the big sporting events are on Sunday. People expect to go to a big event on a Sunday," Arjan Bos said. The move would also mean better media exposure for the event, as Sunday is the day with the most exposure for sports on TV and radio.
After the chequered flag waved, Johann Zarco crossed the line with a 1'37.670, stealing the top spot from Simone Corsi who had held it for five minutes until the end. Sam Lowes, fastest in the morning and the only Speedup in the provisional front three rows, could only muster the third fastest time.
The top six were all within half a second of Zarco's time and the top 13 were all within a second of provisional pole.