Runner-up in last year's Assen race, Alex Rins returns to the Netherlands holding third in the world championship with five more podiums under his belt, including a debut MotoGP victory.

With Rins and the GSX-RR a more potent package than last season, few would bet against the nimble Suzuki again challenging for victory this weekend.

"I’m excited to arrive in Assen, it is the race where I got my first second-place finish in MotoGP last year after a very fierce, but fun battle," Rins said. "Indeed, the fights and overtakes are expected to be plentiful in this year’s GP.

"The circuit is very small but very flowing, I think it could suit our GSX-RR.”

The Spaniard might also try a new chassis at Assen, which he described as being better for braking but a bit worse for turning, when trialled at the Barcelona post-race test.

“I trust on my guys and they will analyse 110% to see if what we gain on brakes is better than [we lose in] turning," he said.

Rookie team-mate Joan Mir sored his best result so far in the premier-class with sixth in Catalunya.

“I’m still very happy about the last race in Catalunya, but I’m also happy to go to Assen, which is a unique and legendary track," he said.

"It is kind of difficult for a rookie because it has very fast parts combined with very slow, so the balance of the bike is crucial, and also being able to adapt the riding style very quickly and many times in a single lap is important.

"I’m positive because we’ve found a good way of working and we are following the right steps, improving little by little and getting stronger.”

Mir's crew chief Frankie Carchedi feels downforce from the winglets will be especially important this weekend.

"The aerodynamic package can help to keep the front grounded in the corners, so that will come into play here more than at some circuits," he said.

"However, it’s a well-balanced track that doesn’t really suit one manufacturer more than others, but our bike certainly does suit fast and flowing corners, so we hope for a good race!”

Team manager Davide Brivio agreed: "We start Assen with positivity, especially following the good race that Alex put together here in 2018. The circuit layout may suit our machine characteristics, so we will work with our usual program to prepare for the race in the best way possible.

"Joan is also on good form, he found more feeling with his bike and his confidence is getting better and better, we hope this will see him achieve the results he deserves.”

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