Valentino Rossi (left) and Marc Marquez at the French GP press conference in May. The two will lock horns again at Assen where Rossi won last year. -AFP
ASSEN (Holland): Spanish world champion Marc Marquez is targeting a record eighth consecutive win at Saturday’s Dutch Grand Prix, with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi hoping to deny him at one of his favourite tracks.
Second-place Rossi, who Marquez edged out to claim a spectacular seventh victory in front of a home crowd in Catalunya 12 days ago, will have a point to prove in Assen where he has won six GP races.
A win would also put Rossi - currently 58 points adrift of Marquez's perfect score of 175 - ahead of his illustrious compatriot Giacomo Agostini, a six-time winner in motorcycling's top category at Assen between 1968-74.
Rossi will be defending his 2013 Dutch GP victory against a rampant Marquez. Rossi returned to his winning ways here last year following a two-and-a-half year drought, notching up his only victory of the season.
Rossi is also looked at by many to try and halt the Spaniard's spotless eight-win campaign, something a young Rossi himself achieved as world champion back in 2002.
"Assen is a great track and a good track for Yamaha," the 35-year-old Rossi told the organisers of the circuit that is better known as "The Cathedral" of motorcycle racing.
Rossi warned that the unpredictable Dutch weather played a huge factor.
"You never know if it will be hot or cold or dry or wet," he said of the 4.542 kilometre (2.83 mile) track, the only one in the Netherlands to stage a grand prix race since the start of the World Championship in 1949.
"Last year's race was unforgettable but honestly this year I feel I am strong in almost every regard, so we have to try hard and beat the competition," Rossi said.
Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished fifth last year after breaking his collarbone during practice, losing his chance of winning his third MotoGP world title on a track that's traditionally been good to the Yamaha team.
"Marc is strong this season with one more year of experience, and Jorge was looking fast here last year at the beginning before his injury," Rossi said.
"Last year was also my best qualifying and starting on the front row would help here, but the top five is the target in qualifying."
Lorenzo, sitting fourth in the standings, won the MotoGP race in Assen in 2010, the same year he won the first of his two world titles.
"I look forward to racing in Assen; it's maybe my favourite circuit," said Lorenzo, although he has struggled at the track since 2010.
"It's a nice layout defined by some quick corners and a short straight that looks good for us, and especially for the Yamaha.
"Last season I finished fifth after surgery on my collarbone and I suffered a lot but finally I could conclude a very special race."
Marquez, second last year in Assen, said: "The weather is always unpredictable and we have to as usual get the right settings from the practice session."
Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, fourth last year after leading for five laps, won the first of his 47 Grand Prix races as a 16 year old on the track in 2002. - AFP