Assen's surface is pretty good when it's dry, and it's not too bad when it's wet, but this is 2012, and there's a MotoGP race this weekend, so of course, the conditions are as bad as they can possibly be. For Assen, that means a few spots of rain here and there, just enough to create patches damp enough to catch out the unwary, or even the wary, as Casey Stoner found out this morning. Heading down the Veenslang Stoner noticed the first spots of rain on his visor. Through the Ruskenhoek, it turned into drizzle, and he had already backed off into De Bult when he was flung from the bike in what he described as one of the worst crashes of his career. He took a knock to the head, banged his left shoulder and left wrist, and suffered a big and very painful contusion to his right knee, that left him hobbling around like an old man in the afternoon.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Assen:
The German round of MotoGP is to stay at the Sachsenring circuit until 2016. Dorna announced today that they had signed a five-year deal with the ADAC, who own the Sachsenring, to keep the race at the circuit. The race had been under threat earlier, after projected losses for the event meant that circuit feared not being able to afford the event.
Dorna's problem was that there are no real alternatives to the Sachsenring in Germany. Other available circuits like the Lausitzring were not considered suitable, while the Nurburgring in the west of Germany has simply never attracted the crowds that the Sachsenring draws. The Sachsenring track, near the East German city of Chemnitz, draws crowds of over 130,000 on race day, and the event is extremely popular with fans from all around Europe. With Stefan Bradl making an impressive debut in MotoGP, and with the German market being very important to Dorna, the event had to continue, and the Sachsenring was the best place for the race to be staged. Rumors at Assen suggest that Spanish teams are starting to look to tourism as their best chance of finding sponsorship, and that means giving Spanish tourist destinations high visibility in Northern Europe, where most of their visitors come from. A German round of MotoGP is a key part of that strategy.
Below is the official press release from Dorna:
Press releases after the first day of practice at Assen:
Pol Espargaro has got his weekend at Assen off to a flying start, the HP Tuenti Pons team rider dominating the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Espargaro had a gap over over half a second for most of the session, with only Andrea Iannone getting anywhere near towards the end. Tito Rabat took 3rd spot, over eight tenths off the time of his teammate, while Thom Luthi ended the session in 4th, ahead of Claudio Corti and Marc Marquez. Scott Redding took 7th place, ahead of a brace of FTRs, Alex de Angelis' Forward Racing team having abandoned the Suter for the FTR from Assen onwards, the man from San Marino finishing ahead of Simone Corsi.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of Saturday's race at Assen:
Pol Espargaró came back from darkness into the winner’s spotlight in a matter of days, thanks to his lonely and extraordinary Moto2 win at Silverstone. «Smart» Pol –do not confuse with Ducati rider Paul Smart- left Barcelona injured, with no points and witnessing how arch rival Marc Márquez was leaving with the same 16 points that Pol was fighting for when he crashed at Montmeló.
Espargaro may not be the most technical rider on the grid, neither does he speak the best English. However, you can be sure he has the strongest spirit among riders in the intermediate class. It would have been natural to be furious after being taken out by Marquez in Barcelona. But Espargaró was very well advised by HP Tuenti team Boss Sito Pons and chose the opposite and toughest way of overcoming his setback. Just dedicating a few nice words to his Catalunya Caixa rival and then focusing on proving at Silverstone he is as quick as the fastest rider on the track. Watching Espargaró in the last few seasons brings to my mind that old racing cliché: You can't teach a slow rider to produce a talent he does not have, but fortunately you can teach a skilled rider to be smarter or avoid mistakes. That’s what Espargaró and the HP Tuenti team have achieved this season.
For the past few years, attending a MotoGP round has been a disheartening experience for most British fans. After sitting in traffic for several hours, they then faced a day getting soaked to the skin while watching their local heroes - if any were actually on the grid - circulating around at the rear of the pack. At the end of the day, they faced yet more hours sitting in a traffic chaos in a downpour to get home again. They loved it, of course, but it tested their courage.
2012 would be different. The miserable weather magically disappeared for race day - it was far from perfect, but it remained largely dry - Scott Redding got on the podium in Moto2, and Cal Crutchlow put on a heroic and brilliant performance in MotoGP. It might be fair to question the wisdom of Crutchlow's decision to lie about his foot not being broken and race anyway, but there is no question about his bravery or pain threshold, nor, after starting at the back of the grid and slicing through the field to finish 6th, matching the pace of race winner Jorge Lorenzo, about his ability. The British fans have a hero again. More than one, in fact.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Silverstone: