Three rounds, three-different winners on three different manufacturers. That’s what the 2015 World Superbike Championship looks like as it heads to the historic TT Circuit Assen. One of the oldest circuits in existence, the Dutch track opened in 1926 and is known as “The Cathedral” of motorcycle racing.The winners of the opening three of 13 rounds are Kawasaki Racing Team’s newest pilot Jonathan Rea with four, which includes a double during WSB’s debut in Thailand, Aruba.it Ducati Team’s Chaz Davies, and Aprilia Racing Team’s Leon Haslam, the latter two having one win each.
These three – who also are the top-three in point standings – will without a doubt be the favorites as WSBK heads to the 2.82-mile circuit containing 17 corners for the 24th time (the only circuit with more WSBK appearances is Phillip Island with 25).Rea has the most success in The Netherlands, the Northern Irishman standing on the podium eight times, which includes five wins. With his four wins so far this season, Rea has a total of 19 World SBK race wins as he chases his first-ever title. Heading into Assen, Rea has 140 points – 93 percent of the total 150 points available so far He leads Haslam by 26, and Davies by 57.“I am really excited about Assen because it is a circuit I really enjoy and I have had some good success at in the past. This year with a new team and a new bike we need to see how we perform on Friday but Assen is somewhere I think we can try and win again. There is always close racing there, which I am looking forward to,” Rea says.“It is cool to go there each year because there are always a lot of British fans that make the trip over to watch the race. I have some family coming as well. Aside from Phillip Island this is going to be the race that most feels a little bit like home because I have spent so much time there in the past.”As for Rea’s teammate, the 2013 WSBK Champion Tom Sykes, the Brit took third at Aragon last week, but crashed out of race two. He is currently fourth in the standings with 66 points.Before his race-two, third-place podium at Aragon last week, Haslam piloted his Aprilia RSV4 to three-consecutive second-place finishes. As for Ducati’s Davies, who awarded Ducati its first-ever SBK victory on the Panigale during race two last week, he also finished on the podium multiple times, including a pair of thirds at the season opener in Phillip Island, and second at race one in Aragon.As Davies’ teammate Davide Giugliano continues to recover from a pre-season crash, the Spaniard Xavi Fores will pilot the other Ducati Team 1199 Panigale R. Fores knows Assen well from his days competing in the German SBK Championship. As for Giugliano, he’s expected to return at round five in Imola next month.After many misfortunes through the season so far, the Pata Honda World Superbike team returns home to The Netherlands for the Assen TT round. Both 2014 champions – Sylvain Guintoli in SBK and Michael van der Mark in Supersport – will seek redemption. Guintoli especially; he crashed out of race two in Aragon, ending his run of 43-straight point finishes.As for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki riders Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet, plus MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Leon Camier and Team Pedercini’s David Salom, all four riders will be continuing to set up their new electronics packages which first made appearances in Aragon, while Ayrton Badovini aims for more strong results following a ninth place last time out on what was his return to the World Championship with BMW Motorrad Italia, World SBK reports.Althea Racing’s Nico Terol and Matteo Baiocco were locked together in the last race, while Team Hero EBR’s Niccolo Canepa picked up his first point for the American constructor. He and team-mate Larry Pegram now hope for double top 15 finishes at Assen, World SBK reports.The very first Assen World Superbike race was won by Doug Polen in what remains the most dominant season on record. Rea may be on that same path this season.2015 Assen World Superbike TV Schedule:beIN Sports will provide broadcast coverage of 2015 Assen World Superbike beginning at 6 a.m. EST Sunday, April 19; race one will have a slight delay, and race two will be live.2015 World Superbike Point Standings (after three of 13 rounds):1. Jonathan Rea, 140 pts GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team 2. Leon Haslam, 114 pts GBR APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils 3. Chaz Davies, 83 pts GBR DUCATI Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team 4. Tom Sykes, 66 pts GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team 5. Jordi Torres, 63 pts ESP APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils 6. Sylvain Guintoli, 48 pts FRA HONDA Pata Honda World Superbike Team 7. Nicolas Terol, 41 pts ESP DUCATI Althea Racing 8. Matteo Baiocco, 39 pts ITA DUCATI Althea Racing 9. Leandro Mercado, 38 pts ARG DUCATI BARNI Racing Team 10. Alex Lowes, 34 pts GBR SUZUKI Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.