Alex Hofmann's MotoGP Round Up from Assen

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The impression I got from day one at Assen was that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden seemed to be quite happy, especially with the softer tyre choice which gives more grip.

Obviously Valentino likes Assen a lot, Nicky Hayden does too, so that probably played into their hands. Valentino was closer to the front than ever before after the first day of practice, Nicky was third fastest, and after day one there were 11 prototypes within half a second. It appeared to be the case that in qualifying and practice the Ducati boys were a little closer under dry conditions.

It seemed like they found a direction quite well, but the main problem of the weekend still seemed to be bad luck. For Valentino that came in the form of a rear tyre and some major problems in the race, and that's stuff that happens in racing. It's been a while since Bridgestone or any tyre manufacturer suffered such a problem. He wasn't the only one in the race, he was just the one with the biggest piece missing in the rear tyre and that of course slowed him down, and also meant he had to come in and change rear tyre. So we didn't really know what his race pace would have been, and it was a race in which you can't really say where Valentino was.

Nicky showed again that during a race he has to push the bike so hard that there is always a high chance of making a mistake. At the start of the race he just wanted to stick with those guys at the front and went wide into the last chicane, and then had to go through the gravel. He lost some pace there and it just seems like it's not yet coming together, probably because he is pushing that bike to more than 100% and that's when the mistakes will happen. I'm sure he wasn't happy with it, but it looked like an okay race for him.

In motorsport it's usually the case that when things come together - like when it's your season - then everything is just working. You're lucky out on track, whenever there is trouble somewhere you're not usually getting caught up in it, if there is some trouble you save it somehow, and when things go right they go right. But when things go wrong they usually stick to your shoes for a while! That's my impression with Ducati. They are trying hard, but sometimes it's the weather a bit, it's the tyres, it's the little things that just don't add up so it's not payback time for them just yet. There will be the day when things come together.

We're at that point in the season where you have three races in a row, and it's Sachsenring up next which is a very technical track. Power is not really what you're looking for there, more the balance of the bike, and it's a very short track so the gaps between riders are generally very close. There is hardly any full-throttle section on that track and in comparison to the following week at Mugello, where we have a straight of 1.1km, it really is two weeks of extremes.

Mugello is Ducati and Valentino's home race, the birthplace of the Desmosedici, and the next few weeks will be very interesting with regards to the future of Ducati and Valentino.
 

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