This weekend World Superbikes descended on Assen, for the second hit in a run of European rounds and gave everyone an excuse to love this championship again. If you have lost interest in the racing, then get that box on and enjoy the show. Okay, Rea might’ve done the double, but it really wasn’t that simple; with great showings throughout the field, balls-ey overtakes, and the odd pit stop thrown into the equation it was anyone’s guess…
Excitement factor: 8/10 – Old-school style racing with some inclement weather
After some rather dodgy weather throughout the weekend, the World Superbike boys had the sun shining on them for lights out in race one. As we have seen so often, the two Kawasaki’s of Rea and Sykes blasted off the line, but with the Ducati of Chaz Davies and Honda’s of the home rider van der Mark and Hayden in rather hot pursuit; making up a five strong pack at the front.
There were some pretty creative lines and overtakes throughout which led to real edge of your seat action – notably for me was van der Mark, who had that blade absolutely slideways trying to get the top podium position. It was only a matter of time until mistakes were made though: Sykes desperately tried to outgun his teammate into the last turn, in turn tucking the front and scoring no points whatsoever.
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This left Davies, van der Mark and Rea to fight between themselves, with Nicky Hayden just grasping on the back of the group. The laps ticked down and the fight went on, until van der Mark lost the front pushing on for the win in the closing stages. Sh*t! He rode an absolutely cracking race though, and was never going to give up. This meant advantage Rea, who crossed the line ahead of Davies and a patient Nicky Hayden; nabbing his first World Superbike podium to date. Impressively, Camier managed to get his MV Agusta into 4th, with Jordi Torres, Lorenzo Savadori, Markus Reiterberger, Alex Lowes, Roman Ramos and Lucas Mahias (Stand-in for Sylvain Barrier) rounding out the top ten -which featured every manufacture.
Now, things get a little bit more challenging with a wet race drying out, and pit stops coming into play half way through. After an incredibly poor start from Guintoli, the familiar bunch of Rea, Sykes, Davies and van der Mark were the real chargers once again, with some impressive showings in the wet from Spaniard Xavi Fores early on and BSB champ Josh Brookes; the latter showing brilliant pace in the tricky conditions before crashing out after stops. It was a bit mental as everyone pushed as hard as possible on wets and there was a lot of shuffling: at one point Rea found himself down in seventh before having to battle back from being beaten up!
This happened throughout, until strategy came in to play and pit stops commenced. For anyone unfamiliar with World Superbikes, they have a one bike rule (for reduced costs) which means no leap-frogging like you get to see in the MotoGP pits; just endurance-style wheel changes. This means that strategy and teamwork is absolutely key, and on this day KRT had it absolutely nailed early with van der Mark just missing the opportune moment.
After the tussle of the pit stops it was the Kawasaki’s who’d emerge victorious, with Rea fending off Sykes by almost two and a half seconds at the line; although they had 16 seconds on van der Mike in third place. This was followed up by an incredibly impressive finish by Lorenzo Salvadori on the IodaRacing Aprillia and Chaz rounding out the top 5 on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati. Second Honda man Nicky Hayden managed to grab a 6th place ahead of the Pata Yamaha of Alex Lowes, who finished up 7th after a tough weekend for the factory squad. The top ten was rounded out with Giugliano who struggled slightly, Camier who is starting to show some solid results on the MV Agusta, and Fores, who had been awesome throughout the wet conditions at the beginning.
Overall: The results don’t do the excitement any justice; great racing throughout the championships and some solid rides from some underdogs – hopefully more at Imola!
Good day: Rea, van der Mark, Hayden – Double win, Home podium, First rostrum!
Bad day: Guintoli, Brookes, Giugliano – No top ten, can’t catch a break, no matching his teammate…