The legendary Van Drenthe
Circuit Assen TT is the venue for the final run-in as the 2005 World
Superbike Championship enters its conclusive phase, with four rounds to be
held in the space of six weeks. The Assen track has always been favourable
for the Italian manufacturer, which has won 18 of the 26 races held there
since 1991 and the Ducati Xerox Team pairing of James Toseland and Régis
Laconi aim to add to that impressive total this weekend.
Ducati Corse Superbike technical director Ernesto Marinelli explains
the particular nature of the Assen track, which has been slightly modified
in view of major reconstruction work that will radically modify the circuit
for the future. This year's changes involve the De Bult and Ruskenhoek
curves, which now bring the lap distance down to 5.997 km.
"Assen is a circuit where you need really good handling, there are a
lot of important changes of direction during the lap so the bike must be
made to handle easily to cope with these changes. It is quite a fast circuit
as well because of the esses and long fast curves. We have always gone
pretty good here but as always every year is different and we will for sure
have to work hard right from the start of the weekend".
With the title virtually in the hands of Troy Corser (Suzuki), who has
an advantage of 110 points over Chris Vermeulen (Honda) and 130 over Laconi,
the 30 year-old Frenchman wants to score his first Superbike win on Dutch
soil to add to the three victories he has claimed this year and will be
chasing the young Australian hard for the runner-up slot.
"For me the most important thing now is to win as many races as
possible and try and catch Vermeulen for second place" declared Laconi. "It'
s still possible to win the championship, but I think now I have to fight
for second place with Chris. I've never won a race at Assen so now is the
time to start because these two races are very important for the rest of the
season. The best thing about Assen is the grip of the track and the banking
of the corners, which is such a good feeling, and some very fast changes in
direction. It is a track that we never have anywhere else, one of the best
in the world, that's why it is so unique!"
Toseland has already won at Assen, the 24 year-old British rider
thrilling the packed grandstands last year with a win in race 1 and a second
place in race 2 after a superb scrap with Vermeulen. Toseland is lying sixth
in the standings, with one win to his name this season, but a 183 point gap
from the leader means that he will have to relinquish the number 1 plate on
his Ducati 999 at the end of the year.
"I've had a bit of time to think about things in August and come to
terms with losing my championship. It was difficult after being on a high
after winning it last year" commented Toseland. "That's been a difficult
challenge but now all I want to do is concentrate on these last four rounds,
starting with Assen. That means coming as high as possible and winning as
many races as I can and putting myself in a good position for next year!. It
's been a bit disappointing, Ducati haven't won the championship either so
it's not been easy. I nearly had two wins here last year so I like Assen. It
's the length of the circuit that I love as well as the banking and the
corner speed. All these factors make it a great race circuit, a real
motorcycle circuit and all riders enjoy racing around here".