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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

“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

“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.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing 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 – Yamaha Factory Racing 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.”

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

“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

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.”

2011 MotoGP Netherlands

Assen 23/06/2011

1 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’49.036
2 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’04.396
3 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’49.527
4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’49.640
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’49.995
6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’50.386
7 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’50.413
8 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’50.968
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’51.277
10 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’51.590
11 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’52.646
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’53.132
13 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’53.164
14 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’53.323
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’53.348

Circuit Length:
4555

Weather:
Rain

Lap Record:
1’34.525
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1/1/2010)

Fastest Lap Ever:
1’34.515
(Jorge Lorenzo, 6/26/2010)

Last Years Winner:
Jorge Lorenzo