TT Circuit Assen - the cathedral of motorcycling
The TT Circuit Assen is a race track located in Dutch city Assen and it’s considered as one of the most beloved circuits among motorcycle racers, known also as a Cathedral of motorcycling. The original 28.4-km public road race track in Assen dated from 1925, when the first Dutch Tourist Trophy was held, while the current circuit was opened in 1955. The length of the first closed circuit was 7.7 kilometers, today the circuit is 4.542 kilometers long.
TT Circuit Assen is hosting major motorcycle events
Assen is mostly the venue of the motorcycle races, the biggest competitions are the Dutch TT (Tourist Trophy) as a part of the MotoGP championship, the Superbike World Championship, the British Superbike Championship and the Motocross World Championship.
Four-wheel drive competitions occasionally visit Assen, with some second-grade international championships (Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Boss GP) or national competitions (Dutch Supercar Challenge). In the past, the Champ Car World Series visited Assen once, in 2007, and then the track record was set. The fastest ever lap (1.18.765) was made by Sebastien Bourdais.
The first Dutch TT was held in 1925
The first Dutch Tourist Trophy was held on July 11, 1925, organized by Motorclub Assen en Omstreken. The race took place on the brick-paved public roads, the 28.4-km long triangle-loop was going through the villages Rolde, Borger and Schoonloo. In 1926, the Dutch TT moved to Assen and the new 16.5-km long track had been set, named as Circuit van Drenthe.
This race track was in use until 1954, with the exception of war years. Since 1936, the organisation was handed over to the specially established Stichting Circuit van Drenthe. In 1949, the event became a fixture on the first Motorcycle World Championship calendar and it has such a status since today.
The semi-permanent circuit was opened in 1955
For the 25th Dutch TT in 1955, the 7.7-km race track was constructed, as a combination of public roads and closed circuit. The circuit underwent cosmetic changes in 1976 and 1981, with new pit complex added in 1982, but the main change followed in 1984.
The North loop was sliced off and the track length was reduced to 6.1 kilometers. In 1989, the facilities were completely updated and expanded significantly, and with the addition of three meters the width of the track was increased to 10 meters.
TT Circuit Assen is closed circuit since 1992
In 1992, the TT Circuit Assen was permanently removed from the public road for the first time and it became the closed racing circuit. In that time, the first car races took place in Assen. The next major change came in 1999 when the circuit was modified with a new grandstand, control tower, press center and renovated pit garages.
Then, in 2002, the Veenslang section was moved some 50 meters further to the east to create room for an enlarged paddock area. At at the southern end of the track, Mandeveen and Duikersloot corners were also moved some 10 meters further inwards to enlarge the gravel run-off area.
After the end of the 2003 season work started on further improvements to the public facilities. A beautiful motorcycle park was also added, where some 12,000 motorbikes could be parked. To increase the safety of the riders, the gravel traps were expanded and enlarged, more air fences were installed and further measures were taken.
Current layout since 2006
In 2005, the world’s first ‘floating’ grandstand was installed above the final corner run-off area. In 2006, the track was completely remodeled for the second time, with more of the North loop being erased. The Grand Prix course was shortened to 4,555 meters, with 21 turns. New sections of track allowed that new northern and southern short courses could be run separately and simultaneously.
The last modification was made in 2010, with the bike course diverted to avoid a chicane at the Ruskenhoek section. The chicane was retained for use in car racing events. In 2013, the agreement with promotor Dorna for the MotoGP was renewed. This ensures that the TT Circuit Assen will continue to present motorbike racing at the highest level until at least 2021.
The capacity of the circuit is around 100,000 spectators. 53,000 seats are on the nine grandstands, other 47,000 are standing-only places. For the competitors, the track offers 34 pit boxes.
Valentino Rossi has won seven times in Assen
The Dutch TT is the longest-running event on the MotoGP calendar. The record-holder is Valentino Rossi, with seven victories between 2002 and 2015. Other greats who marked a history of TT Circuit are Giacomo Agostini (six wins between 1968 and 1974), Mick Doohan (five wins during the 1990s), Mike Hailwood (four wins during the 1960s), John Surtees and Geoff Duke (four wins each during the 1950s).
In the Superbike World Championship, the most successful rider at TT Circuit Assen was Carl Fogarty with twelve wins. The current SBK champion Jonathan Rea collected nine wins so far.
Champ Car’s one-off apperance in Netherlands
As we mentioned, the American Champ Car World Series visited Assen in 2007. The event was a part of Champ Car’s return to Europe for the first time since 2003, with inaugural races at Belgium’s Zolder and Netherland’s Assen. After Sebastien Bourdais took the pole position with the fastest lap and track record, the race winner was Justin Wilson, ahead of Jan Heylen and Bruno Junqueira.
In 2008, Champ Car and IndyCar merged again, so there was no place on the calendar for the European events, so Assen’s Grand Prix was the one-off appearance of the American open-wheel competition in Netherlands.
Gamma Racing Day is the main event for cars
The next big event of single-seater race cars was the round of the 2010 Superleague Formula. The winners of two races were Davide Rigon and Chris van der Drift. The Superleague Formula returned to Assen in 2011, with Yelmer Buurman and Duncan Tappy as the race winner.
In recent years, the main event for cars is the Gamma Racing Day in August, with several different competitions on track (Boss GP, Formula Renault, Supercar Challenge).
Video : A lap around TT Circuit Assen
Address: TT Circuit Assen, De Haar 9, 9405 TE Assen, Netherlands
Phone: +31 900 388 2488
Official website: www.ttcircuit.com