Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are both equally keen to make their way to the classic Assen circuit this weekend, as each has an enviable record at the 4.542km long track in the north of the Netherlands.
The fourth round of the 2019 WorldSBK Championship will arrive hot on the heels of the third round at Motorland Aragon in Spain last weekend, following a quick turnaround of logistics by the entire paddock.
Rea has an outstanding record at Assen, having scored no fewer than 12 of his record 71 career race victories at the Dutch track – seven of them for Kawasaki.
Rea has scored nine consecutive second places on the new Ninja ZX-10RR in 2019 and he can have no better opportunity so far to aim for full points than at circuit layout which suits his particular flowing riding style.
Even though KRT’s latest signing Haslam has not ridden in WorldSBK at Assen for three seasons, he has been almost unbeatable there in British Superbike in recent times. He also has three career podium finishes in WorldSBK at the venerable Dutch circuit.
Runner up in the WorldSBK Championship in 2010, Haslam has a vast experiences of Assen on a number of types of WorldSBK bikes. He is particularly keen to get there after feeling he and his technical crew made a breakthrough in his machine setup at the previous round in Spain.
This year there will be three Assen WorldSBK races; two longer versions, which bracket a ‘sprint’ race on Sunday morning. This Tissot-Superpole race also determines the grid positions for the top nine riders in the last full-distance race, to be held on Sunday afternoon.
After the Motorland Aragon round Rea is a strong second overall in the championship standings with 147 points, 39 from Alvaro Bautista’s lead. Haslam is fifth, with a total of 74 points.
After the Assen weekend the championship will reconvene in Italy for the Imola round, to be held at the classic parkland circuit inside the city itself between the 10th and the 12th of May.
Jonathan Rea: “We are going to Assen next and we will keep working. It is a track that I have been good at before so but hopefully we can eat into that gap that has been there in the first three rounds. I used the harder front tyre at the previous round and we really need to evaluate if that is the way forward for my riding style or not. Riding with it on my own I felt good but maybe there could be a little bit more in that front tyre. We will re-evaluate that in Assen and see where we are.”
Leon Haslam: “At Assen I have taken podiums on pretty much every bike I have ridden. I have had some good battles with Johnny around there too. In BSB I think I have won five of the last six races there. I do like Assen and we will hopefully be much closer. There are fewer straights at Assen. I think some other bikes should work well there too so we could see six or seven riders battling. If I have the feeling with the bike set-up that I had on the final day at Motorland then hopefully I will be in that battle.” Click on the picture to download in hi-res