Will Ducati Continue MotoGP Winning Streak At Assen?

10 rider quotes from Thursday’s Dutch TT pre-race press conference.

McLaren GT3 against MotoGP race bike
Prior to the press conference, Johann Zarco went head to head with McLaren GT3 racer Bruno Senna. “A MotoGP bike is the best for the straight,” Zarco said. “You open the gas and no one can follow.”Photo: MotoGP

MotoGP broke form at Thursday's pre-race press conference for Round 8 at Assen, packing seven premier-class riders shoulder to shoulder on the dais. On the back of two successive wins for Ducati, Andrea Dovizioso was joined by current points leader Maverick Vinales, Johann Zarco, Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow—having just signed a two-year factory Honda contract—Marc Marquez, and, returning from a wrist injury, Alex Rins.

Assen MotoGP race
Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo is adapting quickly to the “complex” Ducati. “I haven’t seen so many riders on the Ducati who went fast for the first months,” said Lorenzo (second from right).Photo: MotoGP

Held for many years on Saturday, the immensely popular Dutch event was moved last year to Sunday. Bikes will hit the track on Friday for first practice ahead of the 26-lap race, which is scheduled to start Sunday at 1 p.m. local time, one hour earlier than usual. Last year’s race was a two-part affair stopped due to heavy rain and later won by Jack Miller, one of a record nine winners over the course of what was by anyone’s standards an unusual season.

In the event of a repeat, weather-wise, Michelin is fully stocked with soft- and medium-compound wet tires. To offset the Dutch circuit’s mix of newer and older asphalt with its varying levels of abrasion and grip, the three rear slicks are all asymmetric, the right-hand side of the tire using a harder compound for greater durability. Valentino Rossi owns the track’s fastest lap time, a 1:32.627, set in 2015. He also won the race that year.

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Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, during Free Practice at Assen.Photo: Ducati Team

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team: "I didn't expect the victory in Barcelona before the weekend. We were fast from the beginning but smart to understand where we had to work for the race to be consistent in difficult conditions."

Maverick Vinales, Movistar Yamaha: "[Barcelona] was a race to forget. You have to forget fast. If not, you get really pissed off. I was lucky; I could test Monday and Tuesday. So, I could ride a lot and feel really good on the bike, pushing myself on the limit again."

MotoGP bike vs McLaren GT3 race car
Johann Zarco (left) with Bruno Senna, driver of the McLaren GT3.Photo: MotoGP

Johann Zarco, Yamaha Tech 3: "I have enjoyed every moment since the six laps leading in Qatar. The podium in France was not expected. I'm even more happy about the last race in Barcelona. Starting 14th, being quiet during the race, I could finish in a nice fifth position."

Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: "I've worked hard over the last three years with LCR and Honda. To make a new two-year agreement is very positive. It's my job to go as fast as I can and give the information that I can give. My experience with other manufacturers has helped."

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“The situation is not so different,” said Cal Crutchlow, who is now contracted with Honda, not LCR. “We get great support as a satellite team. The package I have now is very good.”Photo: MotoGP
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“Cal’s comments and my comments are very similar,” Marc Marquez said regarding Cal Crutchlow’s Honda feedback. “Riding style is very similar. Together, we can do a good job.”Photo: MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team: "Almost every time we are doing something new—improving the distance from the winner, leading five laps, first row, second in practice. This is important because it means that we are progressing. This is what I want, always better and faster."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: "Maybe in the past this was one of the circuits where we struggled, but I believe that, with the character of this engine, we can be even closer. We know that Yamaha is very strong here every year. The weather is always a question mark."

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Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati TeamPhoto: MotoGP
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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki ECSTARPhoto: MotoGP

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team: "This championship is very strange; every weekend has a different story. Here is a completely different track—different grip, different layout. I didn't expect at the beginning of the season to be in this situation in the championship."

Alex Rins, ECSTAR Suzuki: "I'm happy to be here. The waiting was really hard because this fracture was difficult to recover. I tried Monday and Tuesday in [Barcelona], and I was impressed because I didn't feel any pain in my hand. I need to see how it goes here."

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“We have to try to win,” Maverick Vinales said about Sunday’s MotoGP race. “We have to be as strong as we were in the first part of the season. We know we can do it.”Photo: MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team: "With the Ducati, you need to take profit of the good stability in braking. You need to understand that you must use the rear brake to stop the bike. You need to use other techniques to make the bike more smooth in the center of the corners."

Maverick Vinales, Movistar Yamaha: "Assen is a good track, at least for me. My riding style keeps good speed around all the track. Last year was good for me—not in the rain; in the race, I was really bad. I'm still leading the championship, so that's the important thing."