Valentino Rossi will be hoping for another spectacular win to put him ahead of Sete Gibernau on the championship standings, but the wet-weather gods may be smiling at the Spaniard instead.

Valentino Rossi will be hoping for another spectacular win to put him ahead of Sete Gibernau on the championship standings, but the wet-weather gods may be smiling at the Spaniard instead.

Assen TT - also known as The Cathedral of motorcycle racing - is not only the fastest MotoGP circuit, but also the twistiest, and offers teams a distinct set of challenges.

Few would have predicted how soon a bond would develop between current title holder Rossi and his new Yamaha M1. The rider has already secured three wins at Welkom, Mugello and most recently Catalunya in the season's five events thus far.

With Rossi eager to race at the historic track, the possibility of wet weather could upset his plans.

The Doctor said: "It's such a big emotion to race there because it's different from all the other courses; it's historic, very old, and isn't a 'computer' track like all the others. I have never ridden the M1 there but I think it will go quite well, as the M1's handling is so good and Assen is all corners.

"I think we've still not overcome some of the problems we have with the bike in wet conditions," Rossi continued. "Sete and his bike are obviously very fast in the rain, I'm sure they are faster than us, so I really hope for a dry race if it's possible, and let's see what happens. I would always prefer to race in the dry given the choice."

After securing a second place at Le Mans, Rossi's team mate Carlos Checa is looking forward to the event.

"The bike is working very well at the moment and hopefully we can find a good set-up. It's a very twisty circuit and some of the changes we've made to the bike this year might make it a little different to ride at Assen. With the wider rear tyre it may be difficult to change direction so quickly. However I think we should have very good grip on the side of the tyre because of the bumps on the circuit; this means I can get more traction and a better lean angle."

But a wet and windy qualifying session saw Gibernau and his Honda RC211V get the most out of the situation and cement a provisional pole position ahead of Saturday's start.

Sete clocked the best time with thirteen minutes to go and gradually increased his pace with three perfect laps which gave him more than a second advantage at the top of the standings.

"We are continuing on the right path. We've worked on finding the right wet set-up from the first session and in the afternoon we found it. We have started well but the weather is very changeable here and you can never relax. They are saying it could improve and hopefully it will be dry, and the race also. The important thing is that we are in a position to fight for the podium again and we are on the right track".

Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss are looking forward to the race too - albeit for a slightly different reason. For the first time, they will be using a new twin-pulse engine and both riders have reported that the bike's performance is greatly improved.

"The riders like the new engine, it makes them feel more comfortable on the bike", says Ducati Marlboro Team director Livio Suppo. "Ducati Corse is showing that it has a capacity to react quickly and all our hard work of the past few months is starting to pay off. I believe that we are on the way back."

Ducati Marlboro Team technical director Corrado Cecchinelli adds: "We are improving all the time and I think Assen could be good for us. Assen is a great challenge for riders - it's got many high-speed corners, so it really tests a rider's bravery. Unlike other tracks, it doesn't feature much heavy braking. It's mostly high-speed direction changes with a lot of cambered corners and there's no downhill or uphill sections."

Loris Capirossi scored pole position at Assen last June and is hopeful of another good showing at a circuit that has already offered him much reward.

"I love the Assen track, it is very special and really good to ride", said the Italian, currently in eighth place on the log. "And I can't wait to try the new engine there. I believe this engine has more potential, but of course it will take a little time to fully understand it, especially as far as engine setting and gearbox ratios go."

Bayliss said: "I had a good time testing the Twin-Pulse motor in Spain, so I'm looking forward to trying it at Assen. The motor is a lot better and it makes the bike easier to ride."

Original article from Car