A three-race-in-a-row run gets rolling this weekend for the MotoGP boys as they head to Assen and the historic Circuit van Drenthe for the Saturday running of the Dutch Grand Prix.
Jorge Lorenzo leads the way on his factory Yamaha, the Spaniard riding a hot hand after winning the last three MotoGPs. The Spaniard is followed in the championship by the Repsol Honda pairing of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, respectively.
"Assen and Brno are the tracks I think I have won at the most," Lorenzo said in a Yamaha release. "I feel very strong there and we are very focused this season so I'm confident. We haven't made so many mistakes and are working well towards the championship title. Our target remains to be on the podium each race and if possible take a win. Assen is good for our bike and it suits my riding style so let's see what happens."
For further proof that the Yamaha is well suited to the Assen circuit, look no farther than Ben Spies. The Texan won there last year and he'd like nothing more than to find that form again.
"I'm really looking forward to this race," Spies said. "I love riding the Assen track and have always had great results here, especially last year. The place of your first Grand Prix win will always be unique. We've had a tough start to the year, but have made good steps forward so I'm confident that we can step up and be fighting for the podium this weekend."
Stoner, meanwhile, is set to make his final appearance at Assen, the reigning World Champion having announced his retirement from the sport. Stoner has been on the podium in Assen for the past five years, including a win in 2008 and a second-place finish to Spies last year.
Stoner's big worry will likely continue to be the new Bridgestone front tire - a tire that features a softer construction than the earlier model. Stoner liked the previous tires for their stiffness and now he's hoping the team has come up with a fix to restore his confidence on corner entry and mid-corner.
"We've had some great results in Assen, but also some pretty bad ones, so hopefully we can go there this weekend, be competitive and avoid any injury like last year when I hurt my neck, which followed us for the season and still causes me problems now," Stoner said in a team release. "You spend a lot of the time on the edge of the tire in Assen and unfortunately on our bike at the moment this is a weak point, so we will need to work on Thursday and Friday to improve before we can consider ourselves competitive there. I really hope the weather is good for us, as we need as much track time as possible to work on various issues on the bike. With three races back to back, it's important to get some good results at Assen, Sachsenring and Mugello, so we need to remain focused."
Pedrosa is looking forward to returning to Assen, having missed last year's race with a broken collarbone.
"I wasn't there last year due to the injury, but it's a circuit we know well," Pedrosa said. "Assen has changeable weather so I hope we can have some dry sessions to continue setting up the bike and making it more rideable. We need some more experience with the new front tire and hopefully we can make another step forward this week. In Assen is important to have a good feeling with the tires because there are several fast corners. I am really looking forward to this race and aiming to ride at my best.”