MotoGP rookie Niccolo Canepa made a quick 'pit-stop' at Assen, to take part in a press conference ahead of next weekend's Dutch TT, round seven of the 2009 world championship.
The 21-year-old, who has taken a best finish of ninth so far this year for Pramac Ducati, has fond memories of Assen, since it was the first circuit he raced at outside of his native Italy.
The event in question was the 2004 round of the Superstock 1000 Cup, at which the then 16 year old qualified his Bertocchi Kawasaki 26th before finishing 22nd in the race.
"An incredible emotion to think about five years ago: I was a youngster having his first experience outside his country and now I am back here after five years in the top class,” said Canepa, who went on to win the 2007 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup for Ducati.
“At that time I would never thought about it even if to arrive in MotoGP is every rider ambition. I have made many sacrifices to arrive here and I know I have many more to make. I am trying to use in the best way possible this first year to learn my new world. It hasn't been easy at the beginning, but time is all on my side,” added the mechanical engineering student.
Canepa also answered some quick questions from the assembled press:
How was your first race in Assen?
"I remember I was riding for Kawasaki Bertocchi, there were many riders on track, more than 30 I believe, and I finished the race in 22nd position. Not the greatest result but not so bad for a 16 year old debutant."
What memories do you have of the Assen circuit?
"My best performance was in 2007 when I won the Superstock 1000 Cup. I was riding with Ducati and I finished the race in sixth position. I really like the track, even if with the latest modifications it has lost a bit of its beauty and uniqueness: I am honored I had the opportunity to ride on it."
How is the first MotoGP season going?
"I didn't expect to arrive in the top class of motorbike racing and be with the fastest riders straight away. I am learning race by race and this is the most important thing. I believe that at Mugello [where he was ninth], that is the only circuit I really knew, we have seen my true value. I will try to repeat that soon, who knows maybe here in Assen. It will not be easy because I will ride with a totally different bike compared to the last one used here two years ago and for this reason I will have to study new lines to follow."
Which are your objectives for the future?
"Learn, learn and learn. This was and remains my objective for this season. We knew it wouldn't be simple and for this I am working hard on and off track. I train everyday and I am convinced that all the hard work will pay off in my professional career."