2006 Assen Injury Update - Elias Returns to Barcelona

Toni Elias is flying back to Barcelona today, after injuring his shoulder in a fall during the first free practice session. A bone chip was found in his shoulder at the hospital, and he has suffered some ligament damage.

So now we have two teams consisting entirely of injured riders: Fortuna Honda, with Marco Melandri injured but riding, and Elias gone home; and Marlboro Ducati, with Loris Capirossi injured but riding, and Sete Gibernau back in Barcelona, his place taken by Alex Hofmann. With Rossi also injured, but riding, this season is really taking its toll of the MotoGP paddock.

For news of Elias' 2007 crash at Assen, see this story.

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Rossi Injury Update

Valentino Rossi is back from the hospital, where he was diagnosed with chest contusions, hairline fractures to the right hand and left ankle, and a haematoma (that's a very big and very nasty bruise to you and me) on his elbow. He is scheduled to undergo a CAT scan on his chest, and if no serious problems are found, is expected to return to the track, where he hopes to take part in this afternoon's practice session.

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More Injuries: Rossi With Suspected Broken Wrist And Collarbone

This morning's free practice seems to have caused a veritable tsunami of injuries, once again affecting the championship standings:

Valentino Rossi fell heavily at the fast Ruskenhoek sweeper before the GT chicane and was taken to hospital in Assen after the Free Practice session ended, with a suspected fractured wrist and collarbone;
Toni Elias also fell heavily, bruising his shoulder in the process;
Nicky Hayden fell, but was thankfully uninjured.

If Rossi is injured, it would mean missing at least two rounds, putting paid to his chances of title prolongation, and a continuation of his season long run of bad luck.

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Melandri Rides At Assen

Marco Melandri took part in the first free practice session at Assen today, after having received the go ahead to ride from his doctors. The session was longer than usual, due to the major changes at Assen, though rain interrupted at one point, and Melandri set reasonable times. Shinya Nakano was fastest, followed by John Hopkins. FP times to follow later.

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Buy a Piece of Racing History

Former Dutch GP star Jurgen van den Goorbergh is reporting that Riders For Health (Dutch site, International Site) will be selling off chunks of the old Assen TT circuit during the Assen TT weekend. For just € 25 you can own a piece of the historic track that so many great names have raced on. The track is being sold at the Riders For Health stand, behind the main stand at the circuit itself during the race weekend.

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Hofmann to Replace Gibernau at Assen

This just in from an official press release by the Pramac d'Antin Team:

For the eighth round of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship that in Assen, Holland, this weekend, ALEX HOFMANN, PRAMAC D'ANTIN MOTOGP rider, will replace SETE Gibernau on the Official Ducati. The Spanish rider injured himself during the frightening accident of last Sunday in Spain and his return will depend on how fast his recover will be. As a replacement for ALEX HOFMANN, there will be the Spanish IVAN SILVA, already racing for the Team of LUIS D'ANTIN in the EXTREME category of the Spanish Championship, that also did a race of the 2006 World Championship in the Superstock 1000 class.

A big opportunity for ALEX HOFMANN, that will have a great occasion to race with the Official DUCATI (BRIDGESTONE tyres), but also for IVAN SILVA that will ride on the DUCATI DESMOSEDICI GP06 for the first time in the World Championship, assisted by the technical staff of the Team PRAMAC D'ANTIN MOTOGP.

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A Review of the Track Changes at Assen

There was a good deal of sorrow at the end of 2005, as racers around the world said goodbye to the old North Loop at Assen. Although already much shortened over the years, the North Loop still held some remnant of the old country roads that used to form the track when racing started at Assen over 80 years ago, with its high-speed, off-camber crooks, combined with tighter, but still fast bends. But for the sake of commerce, this glorious cathedral of racing was to disappear, to make way for a vast entertainment complex-cum-theme park-cum-shopping mall.

The digging equipment moved in in late Autumn, tearing up the old track, and piling up the mounds of earth for what will become new seating areas around the new Haarbocht, Strubben, and laying the foundations for the TT World entertainment complex. But the long, cold winter we suffered in Holland threw a spanner in the works, delaying work on the track by several weeks due to frozen ground, which in turn set back the date for the first races planned around the new track.

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Catalunya Injury Update

The three riders injured in today's first corner pile up seem to be less badly injured than was first thought.
 

Marco Melandri was diagnosed with a collarbone dislocation, minor concussion, and various minor injuries. He was airlifted to hospital, where he underwent various scans.
Loris Capirossi had scans to his chest and abdomen, to check he hadn't aggravated the internal injuries he suffered at Phillip Island last year. Nothing serious showed up on the scans, but he is being kept in hospital for observation.
Sete Gibernau was doubly unlucky: He will need an operation to fix a fractured collarbone, and the ambulance taking him to hospital was involved in a traffic accident just short of the hospital, Sete's second crash of the day. Fortunately, Sete suffered no further injury during the traffic accident.

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MotoGP Catalunya 2006 Qualifying

Thousands of Spanish fans, and many observers, including your humble reporter, expected the Gran Premi de Catalunya to be a festival of Spanish racing, with Spanish, or rather Catalan, riders starting from the front row of the grid, to take a Catalan win in front of their home crowds. The fact that most of the Catalan riders are on Michelins, the tires which dominated last year's race weekend, only reinforced this expectation. But this evening, the bars of Barcelona will be filled with despairing Spanish fans, wondering what happened to their local heroes. Sometimes, things just don't work out as you expected.

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