"The key in Assen is to make the bike dance"

With its traditional layout, Assen is unlike any other track on the current calendar. So we caught up with Alex Rins’ Crew Chief ahead of this historical GP to hear all about the unique challenges this circuit offers for the riders and bikes.

Let’s start with bike set-up: with the Catalan GP preceding the Dutch GP, there are a lot of changes to be made; “It’s really very different to Montmelo, so we will have to adjust many things on the bike to suit the track. The key is to make the bike dance and flow through the corners and the chicane.

The key is to make the bike dance and flow through the corners and the chicane.

For the riders, too, Assen is a track which they must approach differently due to its constant changes of direction. It can be quite physically demanding over the course of a race. Manuel explains what it means for them…

“Because there are not many straights, it feels to the riders that they are constantly in a corner, they almost don’t have time to breathe! For this reason, they need to have a lot of confidence. So we work a lot with the suspension set-up and pitch of the bike in order to give confidence to the rider.

Although Assen’s special characteristics and quirks can make it a challenge, there are different elements which are more or less compatible with the GSX-RR’s own unique characteristics, for instance this Dutch track lacks any very hard braking zones: “We have improved a lot with braking this year, and it’s true that Assen does not have very hard braking, but there are a lot of sections where the riders are braking at angles and braking with a change of direction. We have sometimes struggled in that area, but I’m really curious to see how competitive we can be there now.

But one of the most important things is to be ready for the chicane - that’s where it all happens on the last lap!

This Dutch circuit has tight and slow sections, but also faster and more flowing areas such as the famous final Gert Timmer chicane, meaning the bike must be set-up to tackle all these different circumstances.

“It’s about finding a compromise Manuel explains. “In the past we’ve lost out in Sector 1, but the shorter Sector 2 with the straight and two fast corners has been better for us, and we’ve been strong in Sectors 3 and 4. But one of the most important things is to be ready for the chicane - that’s where it all happens on the last lap!

This chicane has been the scene of many exciting duels in the past! This year the hope, of course, will be to have both riders running at the front from start to finish. So how can the riders and team approach the race weekend to aim for maximum competitiveness?

“The challenge will be this first sector which I mentioned, because of its difficult braking and slow speed corners. So if we can achieve a good performance there, I think we can also be very competitive overall. It will be cold in the mornings, so we’ll also have to pay attention to tyre choice. We’ll work hard from Friday onwards….

 

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR is looking forward to arriving at ‘The Cathedral of Speed’ - whatever the weather may bring! See you there!