Miller ready for Assen return
This weekend Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS head to Assen and the Dutch TT, a circuit that will bring back happy memories for Jack Miller, who took his first win in the MotoGP class there one year ago.
The Australian's victory in a weather-affected race was the first by a non-factory team in the premier class for a decade, but it opened the floodgates and the 2016 season ended with the two independent Honda teams securing three race wins between them.
Miller heads to the Netherlands off the back of a disappointing result in Barcelona, where he crashed out of the race and dropped out of the top ten in the championship standings after what had initially promised to be a good weekend.
But the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider's confidence was boosted by a positive post race test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which included evaluating set up options for the fast and flowing nature of the 4.5km Assen circuit.
The weather played an important part in Miller's victory at Assen 12 months ago, and it looks certain to be a factor this weekend, with rain showers forecast on two of the three days, including race day.
Tito Rabat heads into the Assen weekend after once again scoring points last time out in Barcelona. The former Moto2 World Champion has scored points in every race he's finished this season, a trend he's determined to continue this weekend at the Circuit van Drenthe.
“Obviously I've got some decent memories of Assen, after standing on the top step of a MotoGP podium for the first time there last year, and I'm looking forward to this year's race. We go to the Netherlands after a solid weekend in Barcelona that was spoilt only by the crash in the race. I like the Assen track and I think we can do a good job there, we just need to keep working in the same way we've done since the start of the season. Conditions will be cooler than the last two races, but I don't think that will make a big difference, but rain could shake things up a bit. It might be summer, but this is Assen we're talking about, so the weather can change in an instant. We're ready whatever it throws at us.”
“Last year Assen was a disaster for me, but we go there this season in much better shape. My feeling with the bike and the Michelin tyres has improved as the season has progressed and we also enjoyed a very positive test in Barcelona immediately after the last race. I've scored points in every race I've finished so far this season but, while I'm strong towards the end, I still need to improve at the start. I need to be more aggressive from the start, to make up places early rather than having to pick people off as the race enters the final stages. Like always I will be giving it 100% this weekend and I hope I can continue my run of points scoring finishes in Assen.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“As you can imagine, Assen holds some special memories for us. Jack's win there last season was the first for a non-factory team in ten years, which was a big achievement for a team in only their second year racing in the premier class. We head there this year with realistic expectations, but with one eye on the weather. Jack is one of the best riders on the grid when conditions are mixed, as we saw last year and, as we also saw last year, the Assen weather can be somewhat unpredictable. If it rains this weekend then we need to be ready to take advantage again. Tito has shown how strong he is at the end of races, making up places to score points in every race he's finished, but we need to work with him this weekend to improve his pace at the start and at midrace distance, as this is where he's losing the most time at the moment.”