No less so this year, even if one of that tradition's most characteristic features will be lost, that of holding the race on the Saturday. In fact, after 67 years the organiser of the Motorcycling Grand Prix has decided to move the race to the Sunday, maybe in the certainty that this will no longer incur the wrath of local vicars worried about the faithful skipping church in order to follow the exploits of the riders on the nearby racetrack, the reason why the race was historically on the Saturday at Assen. In addition, the decision to have the race on the Sunday is motivated by the television audience that is accustomed to Sunday races, but also by the drop in spectators noted at the racetrack, where in the past up to 250,000 people might be present for the motorcycling Grand Prix.
The Ducati Team arrives in Holland after a difficult weekend in Barcelona where, once again, problems with grip clipped the wings of both Dovizioso and Iannone. The Dutch track should not present the same problems as the asphalt surface is totally different from that of the Spanish track, but one of the factors that might affect performance will definitely be the changeable weather, which is a constant in Holland.
Even though the race will be at the end of June, the weather conditions in this part of Northern Europe can change suddenly, making it hard to predict choices. Added to this is the fact that the Dutch asphalt dries unusually quickly after rain, which sometimes makes it really difficult to make choices about tyres and set-ups.
The whims of the weather apart, the Dutch track, nicknamed "the cathedral of speed" even though the longest straight measures 487 m, remains one of the most demanding tracks in the world championship, where the abrupt changes of direction combined with a couple of fast sections really put MotoGP set-ups to the test.
Not particularly testing for brakes, the Assen racetrack has one of the most spectacular points in the last part, when the rider abruptly takes his foot off the gas before going into the sharp change of direction before the finish, a section that in the past has been a deciding factor, not without controversy, in many arrivals in the final spurt.
Ducati has won in MotoGP in Holland only once, in 2008, with Casey Stoner, while Andrea Iannone won in Moto2 in Assen in 2010, and considers the racetrack one of his favourites. Andrea Dovizioso, however, notwithstanding a few MotoGP podiums including second place in 2015 on a Ducati, does not include Assen among his "best liked" tracks on account of the ever changeable climate.
That second place for Andrea Dovizioso in 2014 reminds us how the Desmosedici GP 14 proved itself to be a particularly high-performing bike on wet asphalt, so it will be necessary to keep an eye on the Avintia Racing and Aspar Team riders, who could play the role of outsiders.
As has been mentioned, this year the Holland Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, therefore the schedules for the weekend will be the same as those for the other European races. So the riders will take to the track during Friday, with FP1 at 9.55 am and FP2 at 2.05 pm. On Saturday it will again start at 9.55 am with the final practice (FP3), useful for establishing entry to the qualifying rounds, followed by the 30 minutes of FP4 at 1.30 pm. The qualifying rounds in which grid positions are decided will take place at 2.10 pm (Q1) and 2.35 pm (Q2).
On Sunday, the warm-up will begin at 9.40 am while - as is tradition - the race will get under way at 2 pm.
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