Honda’s Jonathan Rea stamped an ineradicable mark on the 2010 World Superbike Championship today by winning both fourth round motorcycle races at Assen in Holland – his third and fourth World SBK championship wins, the first of this season and his debut double.
Rea’s weekend performance also included his maiden world championship pole position after yesterday’s Superpole and the fastest lap of the weekend in a dramatic and thrilling race two – setting a new lap record for the revised 4.452km Dutch motorcycle racing circuit.
In WSBK race one, Rea battled with Troy Corser and Leon Camier in the early laps before stretching out a lead from James Toseland, who finished second, with Camier third. Race two was a stunning Assen classic, as the 23-year-old Rea traded places with Corser, Camier and series leader Leon Haslam, eventually leading Haslam home by almost two seconds.
Rea’s results today have leapfrogged him from fifth to third in the championship points standings, with 18 points separating him from second placed Max Biaggi.
Jonathan Rea says: "You know, it’s been great, but I couldn’t have done it without my team; they gave me a fantastic bike today, so thanks to everyone – my crew chief, data guy, suspension guy, everyone involved. We changed the balance of the b ike quite a lot for this weekend and it’s made it more comfortable to ride. I guess you could say that today’s two races were probably the smartest I’ve ever ridden; I never got frustrated or caught in traffic and, when it was time to pull the pin, I did, and I’m really, really happy with the double. It’s a clean sweep with pole position, a double win and, I think the fastest lap, so I’m as proud as punch and I can’t wait to take this home. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and going to Monza but we’ll definitely savour the moment and I’ll stick around the hospitality this evening and definitely by the big boss a drink! "
Max Neukirchner says: "We have changed the bike a lot this week and I adapted my riding style a bit better this morning in warm-up so we thought we could improve more in the race. The problem was that, although the settings were the same I hadn’t ridden this new style, which requires braking further into the corner, with a full tank. Anyway, I ended up losing the front, but brought the bike home. We went harder at the front and the rear for race two and it worked for me, so it feels like a great step forward today. I can’t wait to get to Monza – not only to close the book there after last year’s crash, but to improve the bike further. I’m also very happy for Johnny, who did a great job here this weekend. In fact, it’s been a good step forward for the whole team."
Max Biaggi says: "I’m going home quite satisfied, especially if I think about how the weekend began, the difficulties we had in the practice sessions and then in the Superpole and – above all – about the fact that I started in eleventh place on a track where it is extremely difficult to overtake. In race 1 I struggled a bit to maintain the pace. In race 2, on the other hand, I got over the problems I had been having up to that point and it went better. But then certain difficulties came up and I want to concentrate precisely on these problems in the next tests in Misano with my RSV4. The season is long and these are important points".
Leon Camier says: "I’m obviously very pleased with race 1 – my first WSBK podium. But crashing just 2 laps from the end of the second race really disappointed me. In the second part of the race I was very fast, the tyres slipped, but that was the same for everyone. Unfortunately I lost a lot of time behind Toseland; he was riding in strange lines which made him very difficult to overtake. Once in third place I saw the gap with Haslam getting smaller and I wanted to push for it by braking late, but I lost the bike and crashed. Oh well! We’ll have to look at the glass as half full: we worked well, growing throughout the weekend, and this can’t help but favour us for the next races. This week we have plans to test in Misano and this will allow me increase my familiarity with my Aprilia".
Troy Corser says: "Obviously the improvements we found at the Mugello test were pretty useful. When we rolled the bike out here we were pretty good right from the start. We did not have to change a lot. In the first race the rear tyre just did not last long enough. I changed the electronics a bit, but that was pretty much it. For the second race we decided to run the bike a little more controlled at the beginning to save the tyres. It definitely seemed to work better, and my lap times were more consistent. I can now change the way I ride the bike. We have not had that all year. I am pretty happy. "
Ruben Xaus says: "I had some problems in the first race which resulted in me crashing, but we made some changes and the bike worked a lot better in race two. I got a great start and was with the top guys, but I had one bad lap where four riders passed me, which affected my rhythm. On the whole I feel I have got the bike working how I want it – I just need to find a traction control setting that suits my style."
Noriyuki Haga says: "It was a very difficult day for us today. In Race 1 I didn’t make the good start that I needed to, and from the fourth row I had to push very hard even to make up one or two positions. In Race 2, I realized already during the warm-up lap that the engine vibrations I was feeling were maybe stronger than normal. I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem and started the race but it became worse as I rode and I knew there was something wrong technically. It’s very disappointing of course because this year, more than ever, it’s important to be consistent – there are so many of us fighting for the positions that count and it’s becoming more and more of a battle."
Michel Fabrizio says: "In Race 1 I got off to a bad start and it was difficult to match the pace of those ahead of me. We made a few changes to my 1198 between the two races and for the first half of race 2 it was better; I was able to push hard and make up a few places. But then, in the second half of the race, practically from one lap to the next, the rear tyre performance dropped dramatically. I risked falling a couple of times and realized I had to take it easy if I wanted to finish the race. I’m looking forward to Monza where I hope we can perform a lot better in front of my home crowd."
James Toseland says: "We’ve had another tough weekend, especially Friday and Saturday, but we’ve pulled through. Once again the team has worked fantastically well, especially this morning, we had a new linkage system on the rear end just to try and sort some issues and it seems to have worked. It’s been a long weekend but to come from tenth on the grid and get a second and a third, two podiums is just a great result for me and the team. It’s been coming slowly, we’ve come from far behind in the first two races so it’s fantastic to be up there at the front and fighting. There are a lot of Brits out there, and we’re all racing at the front and doing a great job, everybody deserves to be in it. I’ve had great support from my family and friends and want to thank everyone for supporting me in getting back to where I should be."
Cal Crutchlow says: "It’s been a very frustrating end to the weekend for me, I know I had the pace to achieve really good results and be up there fighting with the front guys in both races. I made a good start in the first but lost a lot of places on the first corner when the pack pushed me wide, but fought back and was one of the fastest riders on the track mid-race. Race two was even more frustrating as I was determined and ready to fight for a podium. Unfortunately the technical issue was out of my control so there was nothing I could do."
Leon Haslam says: "Today was very, very hard, but I am happy because I have extended my lead in the series. In race one I had a problem with the front end and was struggling in 16th after five laps. I wasn’t sure if it was a brake problem, but when the bike was checked over after the race, the team discovered that air had escaped from the front tyre. It was a real struggle to keep going especially when I was with a couple of other riders, but I was determined to bring the bike home one way or another. The team changed the front discs and pads – in case they were part of the problem – for race two and I was able to do a normal race. It was a fantastic race, with plenty of close contact. Elbows were everywhere and we were close enough to touch each other’s handlebars. It was very hard, but fair, and we all enjoyed it a lot. It must have been great for the fans and of course, having both podiums filled by Brits was also great."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "This was a weekend to forget and I don’t really even want to think about it anymore. It didn’t start well and never really improved, although it did get a bit better yesterday and I might have been able to rescue something if I had managed to find my rhythm today. But I didn’t, and having a problem with another rider in race two didn’t help either: I’m not sure if it was Sykes or Lanzi but there was an impact and that affected the steering of my bike. I was lucky not to crash but I thought I might as well keep going and see what happened. The steering felt strange and I just couldn’t push any harder. I think it’s better I forget today and start thinking about the next race in Monza, because that is something positive."
Jakub Smrz say: "I gave it my all, but we didn’t have any luck today. I believe I could’ve battled for the victory in race 1, unfortunately the shifter issue caused me to go wide a few times. In race 2, after losing a couple of seconds halfway into the race, I gained a few positions, but I couldn’t pass the factory bikes that were in front of me".
Luca Scassa says (no english) : "In gara 1 abbiamo fatto una scelta forse troppo prudente con il pneumatico posteriore ed abbiamo montato una mescola dura che non mi dava troppa confidenza."
2010 World Superbike Championship – Round 4 – Assen, Holland (4.452km – 22 laps)
Race One SBK Results
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree 35’38.483s
2. James Toseland (GBR) Yamaha +1.106s
3. Leon Camier (GBR) Aprilia +1.249
4. Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati +1.548
5. Troy Corser (AUS) BMW +2.738
6. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +6.296
Race Two SBK Results
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree 35’43.137s
2. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki +1.942s
3. James Toseland (GBR) Yamaha +3.298
4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +4.067
5. Troy Corser (AUS) +4.176
6. Carlos Checa (ESP ) Ducati +4.525
Championship points after four of 13 rounds: 1) Haslam 148, 2) Biaggi 128, 3) Rea 110, 4) Checa 103, 5) Toseland 86, 6) Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Ducati
Next race is in Monza, Italy on May 7th to the 9th.