After the postponement of the first planned race from Saturday to Sunday, both of Assen’s 21-lap races took place today, with Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea scoring first a second and then a third place finish. His team-mate Leon Haslam rode to fifth in race one and then a more difficult eighth in race two.
Under sunny skies, but in bitterly cold conditions, the first race took place at 11am, with Rea starting from eighth on the grid and Haslam fifth. Rea would work his way into third place after two laps, then second place from lap eight to the end. Haslam fought hard with Alex Lowes to finish fifth in the opening race.
In the second race Rea hit the front very early and led for the first five laps, as a battling bunch of seven riders began to form. With Haslam fourth in the first few laps he looked set for another good result, but a fading front tyre saw him drop back to finish eighth.
Today Kawasaki overtook Honda as the second most successful manufacturer in WorldSBK history in terms of podium finishes, with a new total of 393.
After Assen Rea is still a clear second in the championship points table, having finished second ten times in 11 races, and third in the remaining one today. He sits 53 points from Alvaro Bautista’s lead with his total of 183, while Leon’s Assen results keep him fifth overall, with 93 points.
The next round of the championship will take place at the parkland circuit of Imola, in Italy, between the 10th and the 12th of May.
Jonathan Rea: “I felt good in the fight and my team gave me a good bike to fight with and keep the gap quite stable for a while. I enjoyed today and it was like good old Superbike, two long races in one day. I feel like the only difference today was that I had a shorter time to take lunch and prepare for race two. But it was not anything extraordinary. I really feel like we maximised our potential with the bike this weekend. I felt good with the bike and we were stronger in some sectors and weaker in other compared to Alvaro. Even in the cold conditions I felt like the grip level was really, really good but at the end when the tyres were dropping, I lost a lot of grip. The bike became more physical to ride. Apart from that I was very impressed with the potential of the tyres and I was able to run quite consistently in the start to middle of the second race. I am pretty content.”
Leon Haslam: “In both races, with about eight laps to go in race one, the front tyre grip just went and it was even worse in race two, with about 11 or 12 to go. I was happy to keep the bike upright and not lose the front. I feel we easily had the pace for podiums but we didn’t, so we have to reassess the problems.”