MOTORBIKES: Superbike king Rea leads the way after Assen double

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

Once again Jonathan Rea proved to have the magic touch at Assen, winning both weekend races at the latest round of the World Superbike championship.

“Our target this weekend was to increase our championship lead and we did that,” he said. “I said to Pere, my crew chief, before the start of the race that the track should dry out pretty fast. We have had previous experiences like that. I have no idea why I go so well at Assen. It is nothing to do with the track itself. We got a double victory but it was not like Australia where I had more pace than the rest.

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

“We controlled the situations this weekend when we had to, we were calm and clever when we had to be, and as a team our strength shone through to get two strong results.

“We got the maximum from what we could achieve here so I am super, super, happy with that. Our stars aligned this weekend and it worked out, so I am just happy. After Aragon I felt we were a bit deep in the sea and now I feel our heads are above water.”

Saturday’s 21-lap race, run in windy conditions, saw the local rider start well from his second row qualifying position after finishing the morning’s Superpole contest just one place from a front row start.

With significant changes to his machine’s set-up for the dry first race, after a fully wet Friday in qualifying, Rea put himself in position to win on race day.

In a terrific race that saw the lead change several times, the Kawasaki world champion took the win by less than a second at the flag from Ducati’s Chaz Davies.

Sunday’s race was started in wet conditions but rapidly dried out, meaning all the riders pitted to change tyres at some stage.

At the start of the race Rea’s team-mate Sykes took the lead from pole position but the changing weather and drying track surface saw him drop back and soon pit to change tyres but in the heat of the tyre change process he went out on intermediate tyres, not the front intermediate/rear slick he intended to use.

When Rea, who was one of six riders to lead the race at some stage as the competitors entered and left the pits at will, stopped for dry weather tyres he returned to the action after finding the grip level for a lap he was back on the pace.

He and his team-mate Sykes, who had pitted for new rubber first, finally competed for the race win in the final laps.

Rea eventually ran out 2.442 seconds clear of Sykes.

The Ballyclare rider’s double means it’s now nine victories in total at the Dutch track, and his fifth race victory of the season from eight starts.

He now has a career total of 34 World SBK race wins, placing him a clear fourth in the all time race winners’ rankings.

The former Larne Grammar pupil leads the championship on 181 points with Chaz Davies second on 136 and team-mate Tom Sykes third on 122.