Spanish world champion Marc Marquez is targeting a record eighth consecutive win at this weekend’s Dutch motorcycle grand prix, with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi hoping to deny him at one of his favourite tracks.
Second-placed Rossi, who Marquez edged out to claim a spectacular seventh MotoGP victory in front of a home crowd in Catalunya 12 days ago, will have a point to prove in Saturday’s clash at a track where he has won six GPs.
A win would also put Rossi – currently 58 points adrift of Marquez’s perfect score of 175 – ahead of his illustrious compatriot Giacomo Agostini, a six-time winner in motorcycling’s top category at Assen between 1968-74.
Rossi will be defending his 2013 Assen GP victory against a rampant Marquez. Rossi returned to his winning ways here last year following a two-and-a-half year drought, notching up his only victory of the season.
“Assen is a great track and a good track for Yamaha,” the 35-year-old Rossi told the organisers of the circuit known as “The Cathedral” of motorcycle racing.
Rossi warned that the unpredictable Dutch weather played a huge factor.
“You never know if it will be hot or cold or dry or wet,” he said of the 4.542km track.
“Last year’s race was unforgettable but honestly this year I feel I am strong in almost every regard, so we have to try hard and beat the competition.”
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo finished fifth last year after breaking his collarbone during practice, losing his chance of winning his third MotoGP world title on a track that’s traditionally been good to the Yamaha team.
“Marc is strong this season with one more year of experience, and Jorge was looking fast here last year at the beginning before his injury,” Rossi said.
“Last year was also my best qualifying and starting on the front row would help here, but the top five is the target in qualifying.”