Team-mates Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) and Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) contest their first Moto3 races at Assen this weekend after missing out last year, when the Dutch TT was cancelled as a result of the global pandemic.
They both arrive at the historic venue full of confidence after promising performances at last weekend’s German Grand Prix at Sachsenring, even though their results didn’t tell the full story.
Kunii ran with the lead group until the 18-year-old from Setagaya was knocked off by a rival, while Izdihar might have scored more than the single World Championship point he got for finishing 15th if he hadn’t made a couple of mistakes during the early stages of the race.
Kunii already knows the track, from the 2019 Red Bull Rookies Cup, when he finished the two Assen rounds in sixth and seventh, while this is the first visit for his 23-year-old Indonesian team-mate.
Once again Kunii and Izdihar will be joined by Takuma Matsuyama (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), who contests his fourth GP this weekend. The 16-year-old from Chiba contests the Moto3 Junior World Championship podium full-time, treating his World Championship outings as learning experiences.
Assen hosted its first World Championship races in 1949. The current 4.5km/2.8-mile layout features many high-speed sections, where plenty of time will be won and lost. Izdihar has been taking his steps in learning the circuit by watching videos of previous races and examining Honda Team Asia data from 2019 and before.
Honda’s best performer at Sachsenring was Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), who finished in third, two races after he scored his first victory of 2021 at last month’s Italian GP. The 20-year-old Italian is currently Honda’s top-placed Moto3 rider, standing sixth overall in the title chase, just ahead of fellow NSF250RW riders Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW).
Assen has long been a friendly venue to Honda. The company won its first Dutch TT victories in 1961, when Australian Tom Phillis took the 125cc laurels and Briton Mike Hailwood took the 250cc victory, and has won the past three Moto3 races at the track with its NSF250RW.