2011 MotoGP Assen Thursday Press Release Round Up

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after Thursday's truncated day of practice at Assen:

Simoncelli fastest in the morning; afternoon sessions cancelled

Round 7: Dutch TT – Free Practice One & Two

TT Assen Circuit, Thursday 23 June 2011

Bridgestone wet compounds available: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft

San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli was fastest in this morning's wet free practice session, but the afternoon running was cancelled after an oil spill in the first Moto2 practice couldn't be sufficiently cleared and left track conditions too treacherous.

The 45 minute morning free practice was completely wet as rain fell intermittently all morning, never giving the tarmac a chance to dry. In the conditions, Simoncelli topped the standings ahead of Valentino Rossi on a heavily revised Ducati with Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner third fastest.

The inconsistent nature of Assen's tarmac, brought about by the many circuit revisions over the years, makes conditions ever trickier in the wet as the grip is unpredictable. The newer sections are slippery whereas the older parts are more abrasive and thus more grippy, and managing the transition from one to the other is crucial.

The forecast for the rest of the weekend is for the overcast weather to continue, so although today's running was reduced by half and many riders and teams had hoped for dry conditions in which they can gain more valuable setup data, at least the teams and riders have now completed laps on Bridgestone's wet tyres already.

Running will recommence tomorrow with the next MotoGP free practice starting at 0950hrs local time. In a change to the schedule brought about by today's events, tomorrow morning's free practice will be doubled in length to 90 minutes to make up for the loss of this afternoon's track time.

Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division

"Obviously it is a shame that the afternoon session had to be cancelled, but of course we support this decision from the officials on the grounds of safety. It will have interrupted the teams' schedules for this weekend, but at least they will get the track time back tomorrow with the extension of the final free practice session. This morning the track was very wet and slippery and the temperature was quite low at just 18 degrees Celsius, but the performance of our soft wets was good and the times at the front were competitive. Many riders used just one set of wets for the whole session and performance was consistent so although today's running was short I am satisfied."

Crutchlow returns in style in Dutch deluge

Courageous Cal Crutchlow made a stunning return to MotoGP action at the legendary Assen circuit today, the British rider ending a disrupted opening day of practice with the sixth fastest time.

Riding just 12 days after he broke his left collarbone in a qualifying crash for his home round at Silverstone, Crutchlow braved the pain to produce a heroic performance in treacherous conditions this morning.

Rain battered the Assen circuit, known as the The Cathedral of motorcycle racing, but Crutchlow was immediately able to regain his confidence on board his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine to post a best time of 1.50.386.

Crutchlow was confident he could imp rove his pace this afternoon but the second practice was cancelled after an oil spillage during the earlier Moto2 session. Despite the best efforts of Assen circuit staff, the spillage could not be cleared in time and all practice sessions were cancelled.

Colin Edwards was satisfied with his eighth position in this morning's session, the American showing his wet weather riding skills again less than two weeks after his fantastic third place in a rain-hit British Grand Prix.

Edwards is still regaining full fitness after he broke his right collarbone during practice for the Catalunya race earlier this month, but muscle damage around his right ribcage was causing him considerably less discomfort than in Silverstone.

The 37-year-old was able to clock a best time of 1.50.968 and he's confident further improvements to the wet set-up of his YZR-M1 will help him move further up the order with more rain forecast tomorrow.

As a result of today's disruption, Crutchlow and Edwards will take part in an extended third practice, with an extra 45 minutes added tomorrow morning.

Cal Crutchlow 6th 1.50.386 – 13 laps:

"I was happy enough this morning but the rain has made it easier for me. I think it would be really difficult in the dry, particularly changing direction in the fast chicanes. The last chicane is quite difficult because you go from right to left and that is even worse on the shoulder. The shoulder just feels quite sore and I'm pretty cautious with it. I'm definitely aware of it and when I start to go fast I think I should slow down a bit. In the wet conditions it doesn't hurt that much, but I'm really wary because the last thing I need is another crash on it. I had a few rear grip issues with th e bike but there is no reason why we can't improve that. The track felt really slippery this morning but we need to find some rear grip on corner entry. To be honest I hope it rains all weekend because it will make it easier on me. If it's a dry race then it will be a long 26-laps on Saturday with a plate and a load of screws in my collarbone, but I will do my best as always."

Colin Edwards 8th 1.50.968 – 15 laps:

"I felt pretty good this morning after we came back to a setting that was similar to what used to get on the podium at Silverstone a couple of weeks ago. The first 15 minutes this morning we made some changes to the rain set-up we thought would make the bike better than what I ran in the race at Silverstone but it wasn't the step forward we expected. We were trying to get some more rear grip but it made the bike too nervous and too twitchy and I wasn't as comfortab le and confident as I felt in Silverstone. That cost me a bit of track time but once we reverted back to the setting that was close to what I used in Silverstone, I could push at my normal level. Physically I feel great. The collarbone feels fantastic and the muscle damage around the ribs I damaged in the Catalunya crash is a lot less painful. I sneezed in bed last night and didn't cry for the first time in about three weeks, so that's a bonus."


MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá spends afternoon watching clean-up operation after Moto2 rider drops oil on circuit

Inclement weather has followed MotoGP across the North Sea from the UK to Holland for the start of the Dutch TT, which began today under grey clouds and constant rain. Whilst the weather could barely get much worse from the morning session to the afternoon, the track conditions certainly did thanks to a breakdown from a Moto2 bike that, according to Race Direction, spread oil around thirty per cent of the track. In the interest of rider safety action was suspended in all three classes for the rest of the day, with the MotoGP riders set to get an extra half hour on the back of tomorrow's hour-long morning free practice. MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá tried some new set-up solutions for the wet conditions this morning after struggling with his bike at Silverstone.

11th Héctor Barberá 1.52.646 (15 laps): "Our main objective today was to get ourselves sorted out in the wet after the last round. We took a big step forward with the dry setting in England but we haven't had chance to confirm that here. We hardened the suspension on the wet setting and were planning to go even harder this afternoon before it was cancelled. It is a shame we didn't get chance to ride this afternoon because it is perhaps the more important session of the two because it is closer to the time of day that we race at, but to cancel for safety reasons is totally understandable."

Oil and water cause chaos and cancellation at Assen

Publish Date: Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rizla Suzuki was forced to miss this today's second free practice session after an oil spill earlier in the day led to all of this afternoon's proceedings being cancelled.

Heavy rain at the Assen circuit this morning made conditions very difficult for all classes, but two separate oil leaks from riders in the Moto2 field caused a large spillage over a significant part of the 4,542m Dutch circuit. The organisers tried to clear the surface with a mixture of detergent and water, but conditions were too dangerous for the remaining practice sessions to take place. A decision by race control was taken to cancel all of this afternoon's events and allow time to get the track prepared and safe for tomorrow.

Álvaro Bautista (P13, 1'53.164, 15 laps) was left very disappointed at the news of the cancellation, as he had a major setting change to test on his Suzuki GSV-R this afternoon, to try help him find the grip he was looking for in the wet. He struggled to find similar levels of grip here at Assen this morning to those he had in Silverstone two weeks ago and was eagerly anticipating this afternoon's session to try and solve the problem.

Bautista and Rizla Suzuki will now have an extended 90-minute practice session tomorrow morning, before the all-important qualifying in the afternoon. This weekend's 26-lap race is scheduled for 15.00hrs local time (13.00hrs GMT) on Saturday 25th June.

Álvaro Bautista:

"In this morning's wet conditions I had a lot of problems with rear grip and I just didn't have the confidence in the corners to open the gas early enough. We tried another setting in the session, but I didn't have a good feeling with that either. This afternoon we wanted to test a completely different setting, but after what happened on the track in the Moto2 class it has made this impossible. We have a couple of sessions tomorrow and I hope that I can resolve this problem, because I really need to get the same feedback from the bike as I had at Silverstone in the last race."

Paul Denning -Team Manager:

"None of the teams will be happy that FP2 was cancelled this afternoon, but we definitely needed it to go ahead as we hadn't found the same grip feeling in the rain as we achieved at Silverstone two weeks ago. There was a quite radical set-up on one of the bikes – which was to be tried this afternoon – to hopefully help or solve the problem, but we will now have to sit down and decide the best way forward. Fortunately, we now have an extended session tomorrow morning to find a decent setting so that hopefully we can be in the best shape possible to qualify the bike in the afternoon."


Assen, 23 June: the seventh round of the season at the historic Assen race track marks the tenth anniversary of Toni Elias's win here aboard a Honda in the 125cc class. The 28-year-old Spaniard returns for his 12th visit to the circuit in northern Holland hoping to continue on the progress he made in Great Britain but today the Moto2 reigning World Champion and his colleagues had to sit out the second free session due to slippery asphalt conditions.

Heavy rains affected this morning first free session at the Dutch circuit with Elias on the 14th position of the classification whilst during the Moto2 practice the marshals displayed the red flag and later the cancellation of the session with four minutes remaining due to oil spoilage on track. For safety reason Elias and his colleagues will be back on track tomorrow morning at 10:10 local time.

Elias: "This morning we have tested two different settings in the wet and one of those two was a good one for my riding style. Well... if it rains again tomorrow I have got good chances to ride faster. Of course this session cancellation does not help anybody: I had a list of adjustments to fix but I can not do anything now. Let's see what happens tomorrow".

Repsol Honda Team encounter strange conditions in Assen

Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Hiroshi Aoyama, replacement for the injured Dani Pedrosa, were greeted with very wet conditions in the first session today in Assen.

Stoner and Dovizioso, third and fourth respectively after the end of the first forty-five minute practice session, spent their time working on general set up and grip issues. Aoyama, the first man out on track, was eager to make the most of his first session the RC212V, and also attack the Assen circuit for the first time on a MotoGP machine.

In the afternoon, all three Repsol Honda Riders were looking to continue set up work on their bikes, however, after an oil spill on track from the Moto2 class, Free Practice 2 was cancelled until tomorrow morning, when the riders will be able to make use of a longer 90 minute session to finalise set up for Qualifying in the afternoon.

CASEY STONER – 3rd 1'49.527

"This morning's session was good to get some more data on the wet set up as we still don't have that much experience in these conditions on the RC212V. We worked on getting the general set up of the bike a little better and also with the edge of the tyre where we wanted to try and create more heat. We concentrated on this in the morning session and the last exit was a little better but unfortunately we didn't have enough laps to warm the tyre up and find any real advantage. This afternoon we wanted to continue with this but unfortunately due to an oil spill on track from the Moto2 class we had to forefit the session and we'll come back tomorrow and see what we can do".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 4th 1'49.640

"This morning I found a good feeling with the bike and we were able to be fast from the beginning. There was not so much grip so between the first and the second exits we made a change to improve this and in the second outing the bike worked better. We had planned another change in the afternoon session as we have margin to improve but today we rode well without taking too many risks. It's a shame we couldn't test this afternoon after the oil spill on track but FP3 will be longer tomorrow to recover this time. Depending on the weather, we will continue where we left off today".

HIROSHI AOYAMA – 12th 1'53.132

"This morning I was a little nervous because it was my first time on the Honda factory bike and also in Assen on a MotoGP bike as I missed the race last year due to injury. It was a pity because in wet conditions I couldn't compare my bike with this one, but from the beginning the feeling was not so bad, the bike seems a little bit smoother than my one, but I cannot say much at the moment, I simply need more laps on the bike. Unfortunately, this afternoon the practice was cancelled due to track conditions but tomorrow we will a have longer session which is good. The plan was for me to adapt to the bike more than actually making any changes on the bike to suit me, so we will stick to this plan also for tomorrow and I hope to improve the feeling and go faster".

Early Finish for MotoGP Riders as Oil Halts the Action at Assen

The Assen TT got underway today in The Netherlands with riders enduring much the same weather conditions as the previous round at Silverstone. The first free practice session of the weekend was run in wet conditions this morning with steady rain throughout. Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies were riding for the first time with the special YZR-M1 WGP50th Anniversary Edition red and white livery. Both took the opportunity to find their feet again following their crashes in the treacherous Silverstone conditions two weeks ago.

Having made a promising start and found a comfortable set up to focus on the riders were denied the opportunity to continue this afternoon. The track was closed for the day and the second session cancelled after oil was spilt along approximately a one kilometre section of the Assen circuit during the Moto2 practice session. As a result tomorrow morning's final free practice will be an extended 90 minute session.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 5th Time: 1'49.995 Laps: 12

"We rode some laps this morning and we learnt some good information for wet conditions should they stay like this at the weekend. Unfortunately some Moto2 riders dropped some oil which the track couldn't clear in time for the second free practice. We only managed 12 laps in total but it was enough to see how it feels in the wet. It's a special moment to be here for us with our new livery celebrating the 50th Anniversary so it's really important to get a good result. We'll do the best we can as always."

Ben Spies

Position : 10th Time: 1'51.590 Laps: 15

"This morning was good. After the crash in Silverstone it was nice to get back out on the bike in the rain and get the confidence back. I felt really comfortable and just didn't push to the limits in the first session. It looks like we're going to be riding plenty in the rain this weekend anyway. We made a setting change to the bike at the end and I got one lap with it which was my fastest lap so I'm confident we can get the bike working really well. This session was just to get my head straight after hitting the wall last week so we'll start again tomorrow."

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

"The first practice in Assen and typically Assen weather! Jorge needed to find his way through the wet after the crash in Silverstone but I have to say his confidence grew pretty quickly. Position five was good at the end and the bike felt good for him. The track was a bit slippery, especially corner entry which is a bit strange as Assen is a normally a grippy track. It's much more used by cars than before which may be the reason. It's a pity that the afternoon session was cancelled but we only had three sessions last year here as well. Hopefully we get at least one dry session tomorrow and we hope race day is dry for the fans as well."

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

"Unfortunately the weather didn't help us today but Ben got back his confidence after the Silverstone race which was really important for us. We have some additional time in the morning free practice now so we'll work on it. I'm confident we will deliver a good package for Ben and Jorge to be ready for the afternoon's qualifying session. It's great to see the bikes and team out in the red and white livery, we are all very proud to be part of this special time."


The second free-practice session at the Assen MotoGP round was canceled due to the track conditions, which were made impossible for riding when Alex Baldolini's bike lost oil during the Moto2 class's first session. Everything is therefore postponed until tomorrow, with the final free-practice session scheduled for 09:50 a.m. During today's morning session, Pramac Racing Team riders Loris Capirossi and Randy De Puniet clocked the fifteenth- and seventeenth-fastest times, at 1:53.348 and 1:53.562, respectively. The two riders made different choices for the day. The Italian's staff preferred to postpone the debut of its new frame until tomorrow, while Randy De Puniet tried it, although the Frenchman didn't have a positive outing in the rain.

Fabiano Sterlacchini - Pramac Racing Team Technical Director

"We really didn't need the oil on the track. These days, when we haven't been so lucky, we need as much track time as possible to try and improve our situation. In Loris's case, we'll try to speed up some solutions. We'll dismiss some options without trying them, and some we'll try together with others. Among these is the new frame. We had planned to ride today with the same bike as before, and then to compare that to tomorrow's bike with some new updates, including the frame of course. However, we're forced to try it without making comparisons, although it's enough to now that the Ducati Marlboro Team riders liked it."

Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team rider - 15th, 1:53.348

"I had hoped to get on the track this afternoon. This morning we worked hard on the bike's setup, so the second session was important for planning our work for qualifying. Fortunately, we still have a card to play: the new frame. Tomorrow we'll probably start with this important change, hoping that it can help us to improve our situation."

Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team rider - 17th, 1:53.562

"I left Silverstone with the rain, and unfortunately, I once again find it here at Assen. This morning I had problems with grip, especially on the rear of the bike. Compared to the last race though, the front end is better. We had some ideas for this afternoon, but unfortunately we weren't able to get on the track. I can't yet judge the new frame, but Rossi and Hayden have had positive feedback on it in the dry."


The opening day of the Dutch TT saw the cancellation of free practice in all three classes at Assen, due to an oil spillage during the morning Moto2 session that the officials were unable to shift despite a valiant effort. Marco Simoncelli sits on top of the overnight time sheets thanks to his excellent pace in damp conditions during the morning session, when the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini quickly found a good base set-up that he will continue to work on in tomorrow morning's extended 90-minute free practice. Hosuke Akiyoshi made a satisfactory start to the weekend, stepping in for Hiro Aoyama who is covering for the injured Dani Pedrosa.

Marco Simoncelli (1st 1' 49" 046) "It is a shame that we couldn't ride this afternoon because of the track conditions but we will be able to make up for it with the extra time tomorrow. This morning I went very well on a very wet track and we were able to get valuable data and a feeling for the track. I am happy and I can't wait for tomorrow to get back on the bike. We will try something with the front-end set-up and some electronic solutions but already we have good traction and stability on the rear."

Kousuke Akiyoshi (14th 1' 53" 353 ) "I am happy to have this opportunity and delight to be working with such a professional team, who made me feel comfortable straight away. My feeling with the bike is good and I hope to improve my position tomorrow."

Fausto Gresini "Unfortunately we only had one session today but Marco felt good already this morning in tricky conditions. Assen is a good circuit for him and he quickly found a good feeling making small changes to the bike. He set a consistently fast pace and finished with the best time. We have picked up from Silverstone on the pace and that is a good sign. Tomorrow we will work more towards the race and do our best. I am happy for Akiyoshi to have this opportunity and he seemed pleased too. I have to say he has slotted in very well with Aoyama's crew."


The first day of practice at the Dutch Grand Prix only gave the riders in each of the three classes a single, wet session. Four minutes from the end of the Moto2 session, a bike had a significant oil leak that forced the cancellation of the afternoon sessions, despite officials spending nearly two hours cleaning the track in an effort to make the surface safe enough for riding.

Friday morning's session will be lengthened in order to make up for the lost time, with the MotoGP class riding from 9:50 a.m. to 11:20. Thursday was nonetheless positive for Valentino Rossi, who had a good feeling during his first laps aboard the GP11.1 and set the day's second-fastest time.

Nicky Hayden started to work on his bike's wet setup as he looks for the same good feeling he found two weeks ago at Silverstone.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 2nd (1:49.396)

"We only had one practice session with the new bike, so it's very early to make a full verdict, but the first feelings are certainly positive. The GP11 also went well in the wet, but the GP11.1 didn't just maintain the positive aspects; I actually liked it a little bit more, so I'm curious to also try it in dry conditions. Unfortunately, they canceled the afternoon session because of an oil leak in Moto2; it would have been very nice to continue—in either the wet or the dry—the work that we started. We'll have an hour and a half tomorrow morning, but we'll have to work differently because we can't make as many changes as we can in two separate sessions. Anyway, we're happy for now. The new gearbox helps with acceleration on corner exits, and the rear of the bike is more stable. Now I can ride more naturally. There are still some small things to improve with the bike's character, but we knew that and will continue to work on it."

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th (1:51.277)

"This morning didn't go particularly well. I just couldn't get a good feeling, and we were having a few issues. The clutch wasn't working well on corner-entry, and we didn't completely understand why until after the session. I wasn't so fast, which isn't good after coming from Silverstone, where I was strong in the wet. This afternoon getting canceled was a bit of a letdown when you've got your leathers on and are ready to go. It was also a shame for the diehard fans who stayed around waiting, and for those who planned to watch on TV, but the officials did the right thing for having oil on the track. For tomorrow, we'll just see what the weather's going to do and take advantage of whatever conditions we have."



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