Ever since the old North Loop at Assen was removed, emasculating the glorious old track, the scarcity of fast left hand corners have made those remain potentially lethal. So far, since the track was shortened prior to 2006, the MotoGP race at Assen has claimed at least one victim forced to miss a race every year: Toni Elias in 2006 and 2007, John Hopkins in 2008, and now Mika Kallio in 2009.
The Finn crashed on the very last lap of the race, grinding his ring finger on his left hand and suffering friction burns severe enough for him to lose the fingernail on that finger for good. As a result of his injuries, Kallio has elected to miss the Laguna Seca round this Sunday, preferring to make his return at the Sachsenring. After Donington, to be run a week after the German Grand Prix, Kallio will undergo surgery to have a skin graft placed over the affected area, but until then, the young rookie will race with artificial skin protecting the affected area. As Kallio will only be missing a single race, the Pramac team have elected not to replace him at Laguna Seca.
The prime culprit at Assen is the Ramshoek, the fastest of the left handers which the track still retains. The bikes spend a long time on the right hand side of the tire, but are only briefly on the left, and so cool tires can catch riders out easily. Kallio's crash wasn't a result of cold tires - it came at the end of the race - but because he was pushing so hard to keep the rest of the group behind him. The fear is that the Assen circuit will take the easy choice to fix the problem, emasculating the track even further by slowing down either the entry through Hoge Heide, or tightening up the Ramshoek altogether. The ideal solution would be to either put more of a left-and kink into the Veenslang, or extend the Southern Loop and another couple of fast lefts there. Unfortunately, both of these would be expensive and difficult to realize, and so it probably won't be too long before Assen is shorn of its sting once again.