Behold the biggest and maybe most exciting race in the MotoGP calendar as we line up for the eighth race of the season...
Motul TT Assen, starts Friday 28 June, 7.45am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
There are various reasons to celebrate the Dutch TT. But here’s just a few to get you started: No other race has occurred every year since the MotoGP’s inception in 1949; it’s the only GP to be referred to as a TT instead of a GP; it’s where sport meets splendour, with the circuit nestled among the picturesque backdrop of leafy Drenthe; and it always produces dazzling, high-stakes drama.
Three-on-the-bounce champion Marc Márquez arrives at the TT Circuit Assen (aka “The Cathedral”) well placed in his bid for a fourth successive world crown, but with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso hot on his heels as we approach this season’s halfway mark, a repeat of his Assen success last season is by no means guaranteed.
Let’s not forget a certain Valentino Rossi, either. The pair came to blows in 2015 on a circuit many regard as a home from home for the Italian, who despite being off the pace in this year’s championship, will never give up hope of that elusive tenth title.
Excited? So are we. So much so in fact that we’ve sifted through the Assen archives to pick out five of the most memorable moments from what is one of MotoGP’s most riveting races.
1. Unlucky Uncini – 1983
Ah, the age-old conundrum. When your bike overturns mid-race, should one lie still and cross one’s fingers in the hope that onrushing competitors manage to weave around your hapless frame, or attempt to rapidly dart to safety? Italian daredevil Franco Uncini opted for the latter and unfortunately collided with Wayne Gardner’s Honda. Thankfully, Uncini made a full recovery, rode for a further two years and now works as a safety officer for the sport. All’s well that ends well.
2. Catastrophe for Colin – 2006
If at first you don’t succeed, consider dusting yourself off and accepting that it’s not meant to be. Poor Colin Edwards (a two-time World Superbike champ) was one corner from breaking his MotoGP duck in 2006 before AstroTurf intervened to see the Texas Tornado relinquish his lead to Nicky Hayden – a man he’d twice exchanged leads with on the final two laps. Edwards never came close to a chequered flag again, while Hayden won his only title that year. Them’s the breaks.
3. Rossi’s terrific turnaround – 2007
No list of great MotoGP moments would be recognised without a nod to the evergreen Mr Rossi. Victory looked well beyond The Doctor when he started 11th on the grid in 2007, but after advancing two spots by the second lap he then obliterated a four-second deficit to sit comfortably behind leader Casey Stoner at the halfway mark. Cat and mouse cleared the next ten laps before Rossi took his chance to complete a remarkable comeback and finished comfortably ahead of his fierce foe.
4. Rossi v Márquez – 2015
What a year this was. Not only did it deliver the all-time Best Lap, Best Pole and Top Speed records at Assen, it also sparked the now rather bitter rivalry between MotoGP powerhouses Rossi and Márquez. The latter attempted a last-ditch manoeuvre that pushed his adversary into the gravel, and while Rossi held on to win, the post-race conflict prompted the start of their inharmonious relationship.
5. Ajo on his knees – 2015
We said it was a big year! Prior to his premier-class shenanigans, Finnish star Niklas Ajo defied the laws of physics in the Moto3 after a moment of mishandling at the final chicane saw him thrown off course and into the grass. Incredibly, Ajo grabbed on for dear life and crossed the finish line on his knees, sliding alongside his vehicle for the final few hundred metres.
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