MOTORBIKES: Rea aims to get back to winning ways at Assen

Jonathan Rea leads Tom Sykes in race one at Aragon. INLT 14-924-CON
Jonathan Rea leads Tom Sykes in race one at Aragon. INLT 14-924-CON

East Antrim’s Jonathan Rea heads to Assen for this weekend’s latest round of the World Superbike Championship.

After three rounds and three race wins on the latest Ninja ZX-10R this season, Rea is in a clear championship lead. He’s 26 points clear of Chaz Davies, with team-mate Tom Sykes third.

Jonathan Rea heads to Assen this weekend.

Jonathan Rea heads to Assen this weekend.

In terms of previous results at the iconic circuit, Rea’s double success in the Netherlands last year gave him his sixth and seventh victories in the series. The two podium-topping displays made ‘JR’ the second most successful rider in the history of World Superbike competition at the famous ‘TT’ Circuit.

At the most recent round of the 2016 championship at Spain’s Motorland Aragon, Rea and Sykes swapped second and third places in the races. Now the aim for both this weekend is to push for race wins again.

As per the new race schedule adopted for 2016, race one will take place on Saturday (April 16), with race two on Sunday.

Reigning champion Rea approaches his happiest of hunting grounds with 32 career race victories and a total of 71 podium finishes to his credit. Sykes has 27 career race wins and 68 podiums to date.

Eugene Laverty finished 12th at the GP of The Americas

Eugene Laverty finished 12th at the GP of The Americas

“Assen is a good circuit for me and our bike works quite well there,” he admitted. “We learned many things in Motorland Aragon during round three, mostly that the base set-up we found with the previous bike worked quite well with the new bike.

“Hopefully the weather can be consistent throughout the weekend at Assen so we can build a rhythm and some consistency in our package - and with my riding as well.

“We did a good job in Motorland but we need to start getting back to winning ways again. We could be in for a great season especially as we are entering Assen, a track I enjoy racing at. I have no idea why I go so well there but I really enjoy the place. It is a real rider’s track that - when your bike set-up is not working just perfectly - you can still make a difference.”

MotoGP: Laverty 12th at Grand Prix of the Americas

Marc Márquez continued his domination of the Grand Prix of the Americas with his fourth victory from four visits to the Texan track for MotoGP.

The Repsol Honda rider took a clear win by seven seconds from Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who was unable to get close the Spaniard as Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso all crashed out leaving Andrea Iannone to make it three different manufacturers on the podium in third place.

Márquez now leads the championship by 21 points from Lorenzo, with Rossi now over 30 points adrift in third.

Aspar Ducati’s Eugene Laverty took 12th place ahead of team-mate Yonny Hernández in 14th. The Ulster rider picked up a hard-earned 12th place and four more valuable points to take his tally for the season to 21.

“It was a difficult race, which I expected because I didn’t have a fantastic feeling all weekend,” Laverty explained. “I made a decent lap in qualifying to get 15th on the grid but I knew it would be harder in the race.

“The important thing on days like this, when other riders crash, is to finish the race and pick up some points, which is what we did. The rear tyre felt good for the whole race but I felt I could crash every time on the right side of the front so I was a little bit scared of that.”