MotoGP: TT Assen Storylines
The 2013 MotoGP World Championship continues June 27-29 with TT Assen, with action in all three classes – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.
The 18-round World Championship includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Here’s a look at four storylines after the first day of the TT Assen:
Jorge’s Bad Break: The MotoGP World Championship was tossed on its head in one instant during the rainy second practice June 27 at Assen when reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo suffered a broken left collarbone in a heavy crash.
Lorenzo will undergo surgery in Barcelona, Spain, and not start TT Assen on Saturday, the first MotoGP starts he has missed since the last two races of the 2011 season.
2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Lorenzo pulled to within seven points of series leader Dani Pedrosa with his victory June 16 in the Grand Prix of Catalunya. Now his quest for a third MotoGP World Championship will be much more difficult.
MotoGP riders are renowned for returning to their bikes quickly even after suffering serious injuries. So expect to see Lorenzo back on his Yamaha M1 at the next race, the German Grand Prix on July 14 at the Sachsenring.
But both the Sachsenring and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on July 21, will pose a stiff challenge to Lorenzo’s healing collarbone because both circuits have plenty of left-hand turns, which will stress the broken bone.
Pedrosa’s Big Chance: Dani Pedrosa may never get another chance like this.
Pedrosa never has won a MotoGP World Championship despite being on a factory Honda since his rookie season in the premier class in 2006. But Pedrosa has a huge opportunity to make big strides toward that first premier-class title this weekend at TT Assen, as his closest rival in the points, fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, will miss the race with a broken collarbone.
Two-time Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Pedrosa could expand his lead over Lorenzo to 32 points – more than a race worth of points – with a victory Saturday.
Put Up or Shut Up for Rossi: The injury to Jorge Lorenzo has thrust seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi back into the team leader role at Yamaha Factory Racing, a role in which he flourished from 2004-10, winning four world titles.
But Rossi’s return to Yamaha this season after two rough years at Ducati has not gone as planned. He is fifth in the standings, with no victories and only one podium finish.
Rossi was happy with tweaks to his brake and front-suspension setups during testing at Barcelona and Aragon after the Catalunya Grand Prix on June 16, saying the changes will help him brake later in corners.
“The Doctor” will need all of the help he can get this weekend, taking on the rival Repsol Honda pairing of points leader Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez by himself. Rossi must try to beat Pedrosa to reduce the impact on Lorenzo in the series point standings.
Honda also has a four-point lead over Yamaha in the Constructor standings, an important competition for the manufacturers. Rossi must go solo to close that gap.
This weekend will be the sternest test for Rossi this season. He was second-quickest Thursday behind Marquez in the rainy second practice, during which Lorenzo crashed. A wet track might provide Rossi with his best chance to blunt Pedrosa.
Contract Crunch Time: Just three races remain before MotoGP’s summer break, and many rider deals will be negotiated and possibly sealed in the paddock this weekend in The Netherlands.
Five of the six factory riders in the premier class have contracts for 2014, with American Nicky Hayden the only exception. So Hayden’s Ducati seat is rumored to be up for grabs, with Hayden, Yamaha satellite standout Cal Crutchlow and Moto2 points leader Scott Redding mentioned as potential candidates for the seat next season.
American Colin Edwards also is out of contract after this season with Claiming Rules Team NGM Mobile Forward Racing. But Edwards has indicated that he wants to return to the team next season, when he will be 40, to continue to race and help the team develop its bike.
Honda and Yamaha also are working feverishly to line up customers next season. Honda has produced a slightly lower-spec, “customer” version of its RC213V prototype for next season, and Yamaha is offering a lease of its M1 engine.
These reduced-cost equipment options should appeal to some of the CRT teams and could eliminate the unloved, production-based CRT concept, which debuted last season to boost MotoGP grid numbers.
Race: TT Assen
Date: Saturday, June 29
Round: Seventh of 18 races in 2013
Circuit: TT Circuit Assen, Assen, Netherlands
Distance: 26 laps on 18-turn, 2.822-mile circuit
2012 Winner: Casey Stoner, Honda
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., Ducati Team; Colin Edwards, Houston, NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
TV: MotoGP: 8:30 a.m. (ET) Saturday, June 29, SPEED. Moto2: 2 p.m. (ET), Saturday, June 29, SPEED. Moto3: Noon (ET) Tuesday, July 2, SPEED.
2013 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP event. Visit www.ims.com/tickets, call (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 or visit the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
Information on camping at IMS during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP is available at www.ims.com/tickets. Hotel package information can be found at visitindy.com/redbullhotels.