Honda Repsol rider Marc Marquez reckons this year's MotoGP title race will go right down to the wire.
With seven races of the season completed, the Spaniard currently enjoys a 10-point lead over Jorge Lorenzo in the standings, with Valentino Rossi a further 12 points back in third.
Despite the challengers breathing down his neck, Marquez is more than satisfied with his current position, especially after enduring his fair share of troubles in the pre-season build-up.
The RC213V still isn't perfect, but Marquez is ready for the battle ahead.
“Of course I'm very happy to lead the championship after seven rounds, but everything is very tight between us: it's only 20-22 points after seven races so that means it will be a tight championship until the end,” he said.
“On the other hand, we are there, we are in front and my biggest worry before the start of the season was these three races, especially Mugello and Montmelo, and we finished second in both races, so I'm happy with these races.
“Now in Assen it's a better circuit for me than the other ones but also Valentino is very fast here and Lorenzo, because it's a flowing track so he is fast.
“We will try to start well and keep the focus because for sure here, there will be some different practice conditions, so we will try to adapt as [best] we can.”
Reflecting on last year's race at Assen, which saw a final chicane clash between Marquez and Rossi on the last lap, Marquez believes the opportunities for passing at that chicane remain the same, despite some alterations made for this year.
“The final chicane is always a tricky corner and it's always a place for the last lap that is so difficult to manage, if you are in front or behind. Anyway, this year we will try to push harder on the previous laps to try to arrive in front,” he said.
“The last corner is another corner like you have at Jerez and many circuits where you always have the possibility to overtake. They have changed it a little bit this year and modified it for safety and I think it's better, but every year is different and every situation is different.”