The Grand Prix of the Netherlands and the 16th round of 2016 MXGP awakes the FIM Motocross World Championship after a two week break and for the final run of three consecutive events that will draw this season to a close.
This weekend’s fixture at the TT Circuit Assen will see Team Suzuki World MXGP and Team Suzuki World MX2 enter the flat and vast paddock at the historic motorsport venue for the second year in a row. A full line-up on RM-Z450 and RM-Z250 machinery will tackle the specially constructed sandy layout that will sprawl across the final chicane of the road racing asphalt, and will allow the fans to fill the permanent grandstands for excellent viewing possibilities.
Kevin Strijbos and Arminas Jasikonis are optimistic of their chances on the terrain having taken victory and their personal best GP classification respectively last time out on a similar course at Lommel. The Assen sand will not be as deep or as dense as the Belgian surface but the Suzuki duo have already demonstrated their aptitude for the braking bumps, ripples and technical demands that lie ahead.
MX2 will count on Jeremy Seewer and Bas Vaessen (Brian Hsu will not be competing) with the RM-Z250s. For EMX250 European Championship race winner Vaessen, Assen holds special resonance as the event will be the first home Grand Prix for the 18 year old.
“I think it will be a good weekend. I obviously like riding the sand so I think it will be exciting for me and for the fans,” the third placed finisher in the 2016 EMX series said. The ‘#98’ has experience of a Dutch Grand Prix environment as he competed at Valkenswaard (close to Eindhoven) earlier in the year but was part of the European series that weekend. “Assen will feel different and at Valkenswaard I was in the younger class so let’s see what happens. There is no pressure at all; I’ll just go out there and have fun and try to do my best.”
Some promising flashes of speed and form but also inconsistency were the marks of his 2015 season but Vaessen blossomed as a racer this year for his first full crack at the feeder series to GP and recorded podium finishes in half of the EMX250 rounds including three moto victories. “The main improvement has come through being smarter this year and this has led to less mistakes,” he evaluated. “I think I also know way-more about the bike in terms of how to make it work for me and finding the right settings. We made some changes before the Grand Prix of Latvia [EMX250 round two of 10] – mainly with suspension and the bike felt really good. Overall I’ve boosted my confidence and I have the feeling that everything is going well with my career.
After a superb turnout last year for Assen’s inauguration as a host of MXGP, a similarly large crowd is expected across a hot weekend in northern Holland. The temporary track should count on a longer layout and increased lap-time for the 2016 edition in what is a unique and remarkable setting for motocross Grand Prix. “In Holland Assen is seen as this legendary track so to race a dirt bike there is both strange and also pretty special,” Vaessen says. “The set-up of the motocross circuit is really nice and having all that paddock space makes every so clean and well laid out. I think it is one of the most beautiful GPs on the calendar. The track itself is alright and, again, something different.”
Along with Jeffrey Herlings and Brian Bogers, Vaessen will give the native crowd something to cheer this weekend but as a wildcard, the youngster has no need to accumulate points or worry about a championship standing. Assen will be the first of three Grand Prix outings for the Dutchman ahead of a full-time move to MX2 in 2017. “I don’t have any goals to be honest,” he remarked. “The main objective will be to get two good starts and then see where I can reach in the motos. As I said there is no pressure on me so I want to make the most of the weekend both for racing and the experience.”
Jeremy Seewer is fit, in-form and ready to aim for yet another podium finish in his best season to-date in MX2. The ‘#91’ accrued experience of leading a Grand Prix with the spectacular Swiss round three weeks ago and came so close to snaring his maiden overall triumph. The 22 year old has finished as runner-up for the last three races and has narrowed the gap in the world championship to just 43 points from Herlings, who returns to Grand Prix duty this weekend. Seewer already has 10 trophies from the 14 rounds of the term so far and is almost guaranteed a top-three final placing in the 2016 contest.
Hot and sunny conditions are predicted for the rest of this week and across the Grand Prix.
MXGP World Championship Standings (after 15 of 18 rounds): 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 644 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 545 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 509 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 499 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 472 p.; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 446 p.; 7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 308 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 307 p.; 9. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 298 p.; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki World MXGP), 279 p.; 18. Ben Townley (NZL, Suzuki World MXGP), 128 p; 28. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki World MXGP), 30 p.
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 15 of 18 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 597 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki World MX2), 554 p.; 3. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 433 p.; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 416 p.; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.; 6. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.; 7. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 340 p.; 8. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 327 p.; 9. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.; 10. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 309 p.; 28. Brian Hsu (GER, Suzuki World MX2), 43 p.