Marco Melandri won the first race of his motorcycle career at Assen and the Italian is hoping for another strong finish at the circuit - the venue for the Dutch Grand Prix - this weekend.

MotoGP rookie Marco Melandri won the first race of his motorcycle career at Assen and the Italian is hoping for another strong finish at the circuit - the venue for the Dutch Grand Prix - this weekend.

The Italian moved up from the 250cc category this season and is finding the going a bit tough, but after missing the first two rounds through injury he has managed to finish the last four races.

“I won my first ever race in Assen on a 125 bike when I was 15 years old in 1998 and I remember it like it was yesterday,” said the 20-year-old. “It's strange to explain how I felt then but it was a great day for me. When I go back to Assen I always remember that first win. I didn't have such a good race there the following year but I know that things will be completely different this season with the M1.

“It might not be too easy this time as there are lots of places you can really go wide open but there are also many corners and curves. I had some problems at the Catalunya Grand Prix, as it was really difficult to get good traction.

“There is such a high competition between the top riders now, especially the Italians. It would be great if I could reach the same level as them soon and make it a four-way battle. I hope to have a good race in Assen this year; to have a better feeling with the bike and to feel less tired, which I think is a side effect of the accident I had in Suzuka. I want to perform better at every race and to improve my results so I am in among the top riders; that’s my aim.”

Aprilia racer Colin Edwards will also be contesting his first Assen MotoGP race this weekend. He has, however, had plenty of Superbike experiences at the Dutch venue; he won both races at the track last year.

The circuit is the fastest in GP racing, with a 180kmh lap record. It consists mainly of super-fast curves and unlike other circuits, which are generally flat; Assen is cambered like a public road with a crowned centre that drops away to left and right. This complicates riding, since riders must contend with several camber changes as they turn in from the outside of the track to the apex, and then drift back out to the outside.

“Assen is a special track for sure, it’s got its own character, definitely unlike any other track in the world,” said Edwards. “It’s so fast, every time you go there you’ve got to adjust your eyes because everything’s going by so quickly.

“I like pretty much the whole track, but the last chicane is the only little quirk, it doesn’t really fit in. You’re running all nice and smooth, then you’re on the brakes and going real slow. The whole place is really hard work though. It’s push, pull, push, pull on the bars all the time, so your triceps hurt by the end of the weekend.”

Original article from Car