Marquez ready for Assen return


Twelve months on from Valentino Rossi's epic Assen battle with Marc Marquez and the duo will go head-to-head in the Netherlands again this weekend.

The 2015 race came to a dramatic climax as the pair's battle reached the final chicane on the last lap.

Marquez spotted what he thought was a gap past his Italian rival but as Rossi closed the door the pair touched, sending the latter off into the gravel.

Having cut the final corner, Rossi raced away to take the chequered flag - his seventh win around the 4.5-kilometre circuit.

The incident sparked a spate of bad blood between the two and, although tensions have simmered, the pair remain fierce rivals and this weekend's race provides Rossi with the chance to cut Marquez's championship lead.

While Rossi's record makes him a hot tip for Sunday's race, Marquez hopes to enjoy another productive race after extending his advantage last time out in Barcelona.

After a frustrating 2015 campaign in 2015 that saw Marquez watch Movistar team-mates Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fight for the title, the two-time world champion has bounced back with two wins and six podiums in the first seven races.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Marquez said: "I'm happy that the time to go racing at Assen has arrived, as it's a track I really enjoy and, importantly, the first in a series of circuits that suit my riding style quite well! 

"Step by step, we're making some small improvements to the bike, so in Assen we'll keep working hard from the first session to find a good setup and try and fight for the podium again."

Marquez's second place in Catalunya saw him open up a 10-point lead at the top of the standings over defending champion Lorenzo - who failed to finish - with Rossi 22 points back in third.

Barcelona was the second retirement of Lorenzo's season and he is keen to quickly put it behind him with an impressive showing in Assen.

"Barcelona was a great pity. I knew it was going to be a tough race especially after feeling that the tyres were struggling after five or six laps, but then the crash ruined everything," he said.

"Now we need to forget the incident and try to fight again in Assen. Racing in Holland is always a kind of bittersweet feeling. It's a track I love but on the other hand I've experienced both good and bad results.

"The layout is always good for our YZR-M1s so we are willing to have another go to get a great result again."

Behind the championship leaders the midfield battle has seen Maverick Vinales impress on his Suzuki, while Andrea Iannone will hope his reliability issues do not come to the fore again.

The Ducati rider has shown great speed across the seven races, but he has only finished three of them - with two of those being on the podium.