Trip Start May 04, 2013
21Trip End Jul 07, 2013
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Our plan was to arrive about lunchtime at the track to buy tickets for the MotoGP for the next 2 days. When we arrived we purchased 3 day tickets and decided to go in for a wander and buy our t-shirts. The track was busier than we expected and we guessed from this that there would be a big crowd for race day. We spent the afternoon watching MotoGp free practice from the main grandstand and checking out the merchandise stalls. Big news this afternoon was that Jorge Lorenzo crashed and had broken his collarbone. This was very disappointing as he is the current World Champion and hot on the heels of Danny Pedrosa in the race for this year's championship.
Satisfied with our first afternoon at Assen we rode out to our hotel at Zuidlaren, about 30km north west of Assen. There we found Les waiting for us. Les had stayed with us at the Northwest 200 and had decided to join us for the MotoGP. After catching up on our travels over a delicious Italian dinner and a few drinks, it was off to bed and rest up for the next 2 days of racing.
We woke to news that Lorenzo had been taken to Barcelona and had undergone surgery at 2am to mend his collarbone. He was now resting after the surgery. This might not seem very interesting or significant but why I have mentioned it will become more obvious as you read on.
Grandstand seating for day 2 was also free, so we found a spot opposite the garages and with a good view of a screen. As the weather was rainy we spent the whole day in that position. This gave us a good opportunity to watch the action around the garages as well as watch the remaining free practices and qualifying.
We were delighted with qualifying for Moto3 as Arthur Sisis and Jack Miller had both qualified in the top 10. To add to our pleasure, Anthony West then came out in Moto2 and qualified 9th – a great result. Even Brian Staring had his name near the top of the list for a short while! Greg also found us a good position to watch from on race day as we did not have grandstand seats. We watched the Rookie Cup race 1 and marveled at the skill and daring of these young boys, some only 14. The crowd showed its appreciation of their efforts with a standing ovation as they rode past after the finish line.
After racing today we rode in to Assen to see what was on offer for dinner and night time entertainment. There were several stage areas set up and a night ride was to set off at 8:30 – too late for us! We rode back to Zuidlaren and had a delicious dinner of Brie, crackers, salsa and chips followed by cherries and chocolate all washed down with a bottle of rose - a Greggy Dinner!
Day 3 was an early start – 7:15 – so that we could get a spot on our preferred mound. Just as well we arrived early as the mound was filling up fast when we arrived. Plastic layed out and grooves dug for our feet to stop us sliding down the hill, we settled in for a day of racing.
Morning warm up is about 20 minutes for each race. To the amazement of everyone, Jorge Lorenzo came out of his garage and mounted his bike! Only 24 hours previously he had a metal plate and 7 nuts and bolts inserted in his collarbone and now he was being led out on to the track by Valentino Rossi for warm up. Rossi stayed with him for the first lap and then Lorenzo took off and was 5th fastest in warm up – ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!
First race was Moto 3. Jack and Artie both rode good races and finished one behind the other in 7th and 8th position – great start for the Aussies. In Moto 2 Ant West also finished in the top 10 – even better. Then the big boys! Lorenzo lined up in the 3rd row of the grid, still don’t know why as he did not complete qualifying, but no one seemed to mind! The large British contingent were delighted to see Cal Crutchlow in Pole Position. The lead changed often in the first 6 laps until Rossi hit the front and stayed there. Marquez was 2nd and Crutchlow had to settle for third. Pedrosa came in 4th followed by the injured Lorenzo who appeared to be in great pain as he pulled back in to the garage. This was Rossi’s first win after rejoining Yamaha this season. It was great to be there for that as he had crashed in the first lap at Mugello only a few weeks earlier.
The biggest challenge of the day was still ahead of us – getting out of the bike park. We got on the bike at 4:55pm and were very pleased to be out on the freeway at 5:25pm. The organization of this race is the best we have experienced. We were back in Zuidlaren and ready for dinner by 7.
Tomorrow we head south to Belgium and France for a visit to the Somme Battlefields.