– Guintoli and Rea share the wins after another dramatic Assen raceday
Changeable weather conditions played a major part in proceedings during raceday at Assen, with the first race stopped and then re-run over only nine laps, and the second race bringing forth a variety of tyre choices on a damp initial track surface that saw the podium places change frequently. In race one Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati) took his first ever race win in SBK and the first for his team, while in race two a bad choice for 2011 champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) saw him out of the points. Honda World Superbike team rider Jonathan Rea took his first win of the year in the second full 22-lap race.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) now leads the championship with 92 points even though he was fourth and eighth today. Checa is second but only one point behind, while third ranked rider Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had to retire from race one, and dropped from a potential podium to sixth in race two, leaving him 13 points from the lead. The weekend crowd of 56,000 were treated to some incredible action, particularly in the abandoned part of the first race and again for the final podium spot in race two, when a photo finish was required to separate fourth and fifth place riders. A day of firsts and landmarks for the podium finishers saw Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) take second in race one, ahead of Checa, and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) take his first Aprilia podium.
An incredible first race, eventually run over nine wet laps, was won by Guintoli, a rider who has threatened to win a race on many previous occasions. His margin of advantage was 2.6 seconds, from a very determined rookie Giugliano and his team-mate Checa. Their fight for the podium places was just one of many highlights in the wet race, after the first attempted contest had started out dry, but was halted when several leading riders fell as the rains came down. By regulation a whole new race was declared and the only influence the first leg finishing order had was to determine grid places for the ‘real’ second race. In fourth place in an all Aprilia racing battle, Max Biaggi beat Eugene Laverty. Early leader Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) fell and no-scored.
Sylvain Guintoli: “We’ve been trying to catch that first victory for a while now. Since the start of the season we have showed that we have pace, but the results haven’t come. Finally I did it today. For me it’s a fantastic feeling, this race was crazy with a lot of crashes and I nearly crashed as well. It’s the first race since the accident to Joan and I want also to dedicate this win to him as well.”
Davide Giugliano: “It’s a very emotional moment because you don’t expect to get this result in your third race. We knew that Assen was a good circuit for us and we could get a good result. For sure the conditions were not great, but I was up front, a bit ‘lost’ even because I found myself up against guys I had only seen from a distance before now.”
Carlos Checa: “It was very exciting at the end, we needed to conserve the position and it was not easy. For us, considering all the conditions, it was crazy weather and a crazy weekend so ending with this position is quite good. Second and third is great for the team, I’m happy for Davide as well, he deserved the second position.”
Results: 1. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 18’38.395; 2. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 2.633; 3. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 3.031; 4. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3.927; 5. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 4.374; 6. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 11.359; 7. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 26.412; 8. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 37.562; 9. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 49.896; 10. Mercado L. (ARG) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’08.847; 11. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’11.760; 12. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1’13.988; 13. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’27.019; 14. Zanetti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R; 15. Aitchison M. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR; etc.
A great ride from Rea saw him overcome the pain of a hand injury suffered earlier in the day to win his first race of the year, at his team’s home track. He also scored the first win for Honda in 2012. Race one winner Guintoli was second after his team-mate Jakub Smrz dropped back from his long-time lead after choosing a wet front tyre. Smrz eventually crashed while trying to pass a lapped rider. The battle for third went to Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing), his first podium of 2012. An all BMW battle right behind saw Melandri beat Haslam (the latter regretting using a front wet tyre) over the line by only 0.002 seconds. Checa gambled on rain tyres but as the track dried and the rain stayed away, he had to come into change his wheels and he ended up 17th – just out of the points.
Jonathan Rea: “It’s a great result for me, my team and bike. A big thanks to all the guys back in Nieuwleusen for their continued hard work. I have to get my finger stitched up right now after my race 1 crash, I’ve been using local anaesthetic for this race, but on a more serious note this win is also just to let Joan Lascorz know that we’re all thinking of you.”
Sylvain Guintoli: “For sure it’s a great weekend for us, again we started well. I thought I had the double, it was going well and I could control the gap. Then Johnny had a little extra and I was struggling and couldn’t follow. It feels really good and I think I could get used to these results!”
Eugene Laverty: “That was good to get on the podium, and a bit of a bonus because I thought I was in fourth position and somebody dropped out of the top three. It’s something to build on for the future, it’s been a tough start to the year. We worked hard this weekend, with limited dry track time we made good progress from race 1 to race 2 so I’m happy”.
Results: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 36’45.936; 2. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 2.819; 3. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 12.638; 4. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 12.762; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 12.764; 6. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 20.393; 7. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 36.317; 8. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 37.747; 9. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 41.350; 10. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 43.930; 11. Hopkins J. (USA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 57.515; 12. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.593; 13. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1’33.576; 14. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000; 15. Mercado L. (ARG) Kawasaki ZX-10R; 16. Aitchison M. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR; etc.
Points (after 3 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 92; 2. Checa 91; 3. Sykes 79; 4. Guintoli 66; 5. Melandri 66; 6. Rea 65; 7. Haslam 58; 8. Laverty 56; 9. Smrz 39; 10. Giugliano 37; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 136; 2. Aprilia 100; 3. BMW 86; 4. Kawasaki 85; 5. Honda 69; 6. Suzuki 20.
Lorenzo Lanzi (PRORACE Honda) took his and Honda’s first race win of the 2012 season in his first ever Honda Supersport ride. In fully wet conditions, Lanzi moved up to the lead and pulled away, lapping everyone up to 12th place. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) was second, some 12 seconds behind Lanzi, with the first ever Russian rider to take a Supersport podium, Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Racing Yamaha) third. Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Honda Racing Products) was fourth, and Triumph rider Alex Baldolini (Power Team by Suriano) fifth – placing four different manufacturers inside the top five places. With many of his rivals crashing out, Sofuoglu shares the championship lead of 45 points with non-finisher Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step). Third on an unchanged 31 points is Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) who fell while leading today.
Results: 1. Lanzi L. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 42’56.376; 2. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 12.054; 3. Leonov V. (RUS) Yamaha YZF R6 14.460; 4. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 23.884; 5. Baldolini A. (ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 47.063; 6. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 49.755; 7. Antonelli A. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 53.850; 8. Van Poppel T. (NED) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.505; etc.
Points (after 3 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 45; 2. Foret 45; 3. Lowes 31; 4. Parkes 29; 5. Leonov 26; 6. Lanzi 25; 7. Quarmby 25; 8. Baldolini 24; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 70; 2. Honda 61; 3. Yamaha 31; 4. Triumph 30; 5. Suzuki 6.
Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) won a tricky Superstock contest held in cold but mostly dry conditions, which was eventually red-flagged due to oil on the track. The intended 13 lap race distance therefore became eight. It was Barrier’s second win of the year, after his victory at Imola. Team-mates Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Team Italia) and Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia) took their Panigale machines to second and third respectively, close behind the French rider. Loris Baz (MRS Kawasaki) went fourth in race during which some big names were forced out by falls or technical issues.
Results: 1. Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 13’34.645; 2. Savadori L. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 0.732; 3. La Marra E. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 0.823; 4. Reiterberger M. (GER) BMW S1000 RR 3.962; 5. Baroni L. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 4.264; 6. Baz L. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 8.525; 7. Guarnoni J. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 10.834; 8. Bergman C. (SWE) Kawasaki ZX-10R 11.402; etc.
Points (after 2 of 10 rounds): 1. Barrier 50; 2. La Marra 32; 3. Baz 30; 4. Savadori 28; 5. Reiterberger 26; 6. Coghlan 14; 7. Baroni 12; 8. Staring 11; etc. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 50; 2. Ducati 36; 3. Kawasaki 30; 4. Honda 10; 5. Aprilia 5.
European Junior Cup
Polish rider Adrian Pasek won the opening round of the KTM European Junior Cup at Assen, the series open for 14 to 19 year-olds from all over the world. In eight supporting rounds to World Superbike, the youngsters will get their hands on identical KTM Duke 690 machines provided directly by the Austrian manufacturer. The one-make tyre supply comes from Pirelli, the same as the four production-based categories. In the seven-lap race, held on a dry track, Pasek finished ahead of Dutchman Rob Hartog, nephew of the legendary 500cc rider of the 1970s, Wil Hartog. The podium was completed by another Polish rider Artur Wielebeski.
Results: 1. Pasek A. (POL) KTM Duke 690 13’20.932; 2. Hartog R. (NED) KTM Duke 690 1.869; 3. Wielebski A. (POL) KTM Duke 690 15.484; 4. Demoulin J. (FRA) KTM Duke 690 16.111; 5. Patterson J. (GBR) KTM Duke 690 27.293; 6. Lewis J. (NZL) KTM Duke 690 29.440; etc.
Points (after 1 of 8 rounds): 1. Pasek 25; 2. Hartog 20; 3. Wielebski 16; 4. Demoulin 13; 5. Patterson 11; 6. Lewis 10; etc.
- HRC Report
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) won his first FIM Superbike World Championship race of the year, taking victory after a tenacious 22-lap ride in race two after making a wise tyre choice. He was in the lead for the last three laps, having been fifth on the first lap, dropping back from his superpole qualifying position of second.
In race one, started in dry conditions, Rea battled hard and saved an almost certain highside crash at one stage. When the rains that had affected much of practice reappeared halfway through the contest, and some leading riders fell, the first race was cancelled, with a new nine lap race started, in wet conditions. Rea was in the vanguard from the off, but fell on lap one and hurt his right hand, requiring painkilling injections before race two.
Rea chose a hard rear tyre to try and deal with the cold, but basically dry track conditions in race two and although he had to wait for his chance to lead, he won by an eventual margin of 2.819 seconds from Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati), the first race victor. Rea has now won four of the last six SBK races at Assen, the home track of his Dutch-based ten Kate team.
Rea remains sixth in the championship rankings after a no score and his first win, now on 65 points, while Max Biaggi (Aprilia) leads on 92 points.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) found his previous experience of Assen, even that gathered in a recent Assen test alongside Rea, negated by the changeable weather in practice and he qualified only 21st. He rode sure-footedly in the wet race one to record 12th place, and then followed that up with 13th. These were two good results for a new SBK rider, considering how much trouble some top names got into as track conditions changed and tyre gambles often failed. Aoyama is 13th in the rankings after three rounds and six races.
Lorenzo Lanzi (PRORACE Honda) won a rain-affected 21-lap Supersport World Championship race at Assen in his first race for Honda in this class; from a lowly start position of 21st. This was the first win for a CBR600RR rider in 2012.
Lanzi, a former SBK race winner and Ducati Supersport rider, was only drafted into the PRORACE team shortly before the start of race weekend, but made his CBR600RR debut in peerless style, splashing his way through changeable, but constantly wet track conditions to pick off the top riders one by one. He won by a remarkable 12.054 seconds in the end, and is now sixth overall with his 25 points for the win. Lanzi’s pace in the wet was such that he lapped everybody up to 12th place.
Pole man Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) had led the race from a while, but fell while well clear of the chasing pack, finding a slippery patch of tarmac under braking which caused the rear end of his bike to come round on him. He restarted, but with bent control levers and handlebars he was to fall again and then retire.
Such was the unpredictable nature of the Assen race weekend for many other top competitors that Lowes is still third overall and only 14 points from the lead, which is shared between Kawasaki riders Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret.
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) also led the race on the opening lap, but had to drop back as the conditions changed through the race. He was to finish fourth, having started second on the grid, and was happy in the end result to score points after missing out at the previous round. He is now fourth, only two points behind Lowes.
Third in qualifying for Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) was converted to sixth in the race, as he lost touch with the original leading group of four, and then had Alex Baldolini pass him for fifth.
Another good day for Team Lorini Honda riders Andrea Antonelli and Roberto Tamburini saw them seventh and ninth respectively, and inside the top ten in points. Thomas Caiani (Kuja Racing Honda) was 12th and not lapped by Lanzi, but in his debut ride PJ Jacobsen (Bogdanka Honda PTR) was 13th, and in the points, despite being passed by Lanzi. Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was 16th.
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) and Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) did not finish, nor did Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda). Valentine Debise (SMS Racing Honda) was another non-finisher, just like Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda).
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team):
Race result: DNF / 1st Championship position: 6th “It is a nice little gift for the team to give them something back for all their hard work, but we still do not have a lot of top speed compared to the others. But we are making the bike better every race and I felt like I had a little bit more oomph this weekend. The new format of single bike racing means we are struggling to develop the bikes. When we could come here for testing last week and use two bikes we took the package forward. We are now operating in a new window with the bike and we have more edge grip and I think the testament is that all weekend we worked with the hard rear tyre and most people never considered this for the race. Even if race one stayed dry then I was ready in a good condition to pounce. But then the weather changed. Our result today was a little bit affected by the conditions and the crew were smart to work with the hard race tyre all weekend.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team):
Race result: 12th / 13th Championship position: 13th
“Overall the whole weekend was not easy because the weather was changing all the time and we were struggling with rear grip. We tried a couple of things, but every time we tried something better the conditions changed so the feeling changed. In these cold conditions if I cannot feel the grip I find it difficult to ride. In the first race it was like swimming! Too much rain and so cold in the last part of the race I could not feel my hands anymore. I saw that a lot of riders crashed and it was my first time to race with Pirelli wet tyre, so I rode carefully and managed to finish 12th which was not bad from a starting position from 21st. I chose a cut slick for the second race and it was not really the best choice, but if it had started raining we would have gained some places. As a team Jonathan won the race and it is a special race for the team so everybody is happy. I hope that next time I can be on the podium to celebrate together with Johnny.”
Lorenzo Lanzi (PRORACE Honda):
Race result: 1st Championship position: 6th “For me this victory is unbelievable because I have not raced for a very long time and I have not been on track this year. It is incredible and to win in Assen; for me it is so beautiful. I am not sure if you will see me for the rest of the season, but I want to say thanks to the team for giving me this chance.”
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda):
Race result: DNF Championship position: 3rd “It was a difficult race. After the start it was raining pretty hard so I took it steady but then it got better and I had speed and felt really good. Later on it started to rain again on parts of the track and because I was in front I didn’t know what to expect. There was some standing water in some corners and I took it slower than on the lap before. I was completely off the throttle or brake but just aquaplaned round. I got going again, but the bike was a bit damaged, the handlebar was moving, and in one of the slow corners I had my slowest crash ever and couldn’t continue. I’m really sorry for the team and sponsors and can’t wait to get to Monza and make up for today.”
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda):
Race result: 4th Championship position: 4th “I got a good start, got off the line well, and the first few laps Sam came past me riding fast, but I could see he was a bit on the edge. Then eventually he crashed and I was back in the lead again and then I had a good battle with Sofuoglu for a few laps. When the rain went away I just did not seem to have the pace of the other two guys, Sofuoglu and Leonov, so I realised I would only be able to take fourth. But that was important for me to take away good points and not end up in the gravel trap. I had a couple of big moments. I am back in the championship hunt again and that is the most important thing for me.”
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda):
Race result: 6th Championship position: 9th “Sixth is not so bad. I am happy to finish as I did not have a good feeling on the bike; there was lots of sliding and it was difficult to open the throttle. It was a really long race and it was difficult to stay on. I tried to be very safe and not so slow so I am happy. We only had one wet session to set the bike up so we will have learnt a lot for the future if it is wet again.”
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda):
Race result: DNF Championship position: 7th
“It was a terrible race for me. The rain came down heavily at the start and I had a couple of big moments. After that I couldn’t go any faster. I dropped back, but kept trying. When it was clear I wasn’t going to finish in the points I decided to retire. It has not been the best weekend ever; it is one of those things that happens and we will look forward from here.”
Patrick Jacobsen (Bogdanka PTR Honda):
Race result: 13th Championship position: 24th “It was a good race. I made a strong start and made it from 24th to 12th on the first lap, which was very good. This track is very slippery in the wet and once you touch the gas the tyre breaks loose. Therefore I was just riding very careful and wanted to make it to the finish line and score some points in my first World Supersport race.
The weather was very tricky this weekend. There was not enough dry time and not enough wet time and every time I went out I didn’t know what to expect but The Bogdanka Honda PTR team was working good and I think it’s the best result we could get today.”
Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda):
Race result: DNF Championship position: 25th “I dropped way back on the first lap and wanted to make up for it. I was doing good, but then as I approached turn eight on lap seven, as soon as I released the brake, the rear tyre slid off and I crashed. I’m fine but I’m really disappointed and upset because I knew we had a good pace and could score some points today. Now I’m just really looking forward to Monza and hope to show what I can do there.”
Martin Jessop (Riders PTR Honda):
Race result: DNF Championship position: “I had an average start, but got past a few guys. I had a good few laps and got into a nice rhythm. Then the rear started getting violent and shaking, trying to spit me out of the seat. I think as the rain came in the tyre lost temperature. Then warning lights started flashing that the engine was cooling down as well. With no chance of points and everything getting colder I came in before I damaged the engine or crashed on cold tyres. We will learn from this.”
- BMW Report
It was a thrilling race Sunday at Assen (NED) and Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport had its first victory in the Superbike World Championship within reach, but didn’t quite have its fair share of fortune. After experiencing highs and lows in the rain-hit first race, factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Leon Haslam (GBR) both fought for the race two podium right to the finish line. Overall, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport proved one fact today: its ability to win races on its own merit with both riders, no matter what the conditions.
Race one turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster ride for the team. Starting seventh and ninth, both Leon and Marco quickly fought their way up to the very top. In still dry conditions, they started a thrilling battle to win the first race for BMW Motorrad in the Superbike World Championship. Then Lady Luck began to leave the team. While Marco was leading, it started to rain heavily and after the Italian, and several other riders, crashed the race was red flagged. It was restarted under wet conditions with nine laps to go and with Marco on pole position. Leon started fourth and soon took the lead, opening a big gap of several seconds to the rest of the field. However the team’s well-grounded hopes of celebrating the first victory shattered on the third lap, when Leon crashed in the tricky conditions. As the race went on, it saw a third BMW rider in the lead, Ayrton Badovini (ITA) from the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team. Unfortunately, Ayrton also suffered a heavy crash. Marco meanwhile found absolutely no grip in the wet, neither on the straights nor in the corners, and finished the race in ninth position.
Race two was declared a wet race, but the rain had stopped before the start and the track was drying so tyre choice was a gamble. Leon’s crew decided to use an intermediate front and a slick rear tyre while Marco’s crew counted on slicks for both the front and the rear. Leon catapulted himself from seventh to second in the first corners and held this position halfway through the race but with his intermediate front tyre losing grip, he then slipped back to fifth. Marco meanwhile lost a few positions in the opening lap, but then started to catch up. In the final stages of the race, he had closed the gap to Leon. It was the start of another exciting battle, with both Leon and Marco fighting with Eugene Laverty (GBR) for third place on the podium. The three of them crossed the finish line wheel-to-wheel, but the two BMW riders missed the podium by the small margin of one tenth. Marco was classified fourth with Leon fifth.
After his crash in race one, Ayrton finished seventh in the second race. His BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team mate Michel Fabrizio (ITA) was sixth and tenth. The races were won by Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) and Jonathan Rea (GBR). In the riders’ championship, Marco lies in fifth with 66 points, equal with fourth placed Sylvain Guintoli. Leon is seventh with 58 points. In the manufacturers’ standings BMW improved to third with 86 points.
In the second race of the 2012 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, Sylvain Barrier (FRA) of the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet Team celebrated his second victory of the season. Markus Reiterberger (GER) of Team Alpha Racing finished fifth on his BMW S 1000 RR in front of Barrier’s team-mate Lorenzo Baroni (ITA).
Result Race 1: 9th / Gap to 1st: 00:49.896 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:37.601 min
Result Race 2: 4th / Gap to 1st: 00:12.762 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:38.941 min
“It has been a very tough weekend. Today, the most important thing was to bring home points. Race one was pretty good for us when it was dry. I had a very good start and I was following Tom Sykes. I was waiting for the best moment to pass him, when he had an engine failure. There was a bit of confusion and after that, Leon was leading, but I passed him. I saw that some drops of rain had come down. My dream was that they would completely stop the race, so I tried to stay at the front. Suddenly there was a turn where it was wet, I did not see the water and went down. Unfortunately our race was compromised by the wet conditions after the re-start. I did not have any grip, so it was difficult to be confident.
For race two we had a good set-up and a good choice of tyres, but unfortunately we got some chatter again. From the first lap on it was very difficult to control the bike so I could not push properly. The last lap was exciting. I tried to pass Eugene and suddenly both Eugene and Leon were in front of me, but I passed them back. It was great fun and Leon, Eugene and me showed respect for each other which was very important. I am disappointed because I missed the podium only by a little bit but we are working hard and we are in a good shape..”
Result Race 1: DNF / Gap to 1st: seven laps / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:37.353 min
Result Race 2: 5th / Gap to 1st: 00:12.764 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:39.308 min
“Race one was dry at the start. I made a small mistake when I was battling with Carlos Checa mid-race and dropped back to sixth, but I came back in the lead. I had a bit of a tyre issue in that race but it was red flagged anyway due to the rain so for me the red flag was not a bad thing, even though my pace was good enough to get to regain the lead from the back. At the re-start it was raining. I passed Johnny Rea quite easily. It was feeling pretty smooth and easy – and then I had a big crash. I did not realize that I was pushing so much. In hindsight I could have maybe slowed off, but even so I did not feel that I was pushing too hard. After race one I was very disappointed because I could have lost a second per lap and still won the race. The positive thing is that we feel pretty confident in the rain.
In race two, we opted for an intermediate front and a slick rear tyre. Three minutes before the start I knew that we needed a slick front, but they wouldn’t let us change the tyre because we were running out of time. After two or three laps, the front tyre was just pushing and bouncing and I didn’t have any corner speed. I was surprised that riders didn’t pass me sooner. Somehow I managed to hold Eugene and Marco’s pace, even with the intermediate tyre. I thought I got Marco over the line; it was really, really close. In hindsight I’m happy because we nearly got on the podium with an intermediate front tyre.”
Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director):
“Looking back at the race day we can be happy. Of course we were disappointed about the result of the first race. The spectators saw three different BMW riders leading the race but none of them winning it. On the other hand both Leon and Marco showed today that we are in a position to win races on our own merit – no matter what weather conditions. Lady Luck was not on our side today, but I am confident that we will get our desired result soon. In the second race we were a bit unlucky with the tyre choice on Leon’s side, but weather predictions were nearly impossible today. Both riders showed great racing to the chequered flag. We will not stop working hard. A big thank you to everybody at the race track and in the workshop. The team did a great job.”
- Althea Ducati Report
Team Althea Racing and its riders Davide Giugliano and Carlos Checa took a great result in very difficult conditions in today’s first Superbike race at the Dutch TT circuit of Assen; the riders crossed the line in second and third position respectively. The second race was more difficult for Checa, who closed seventeenth, while Giugliano finished ninth.
Race 1 got underway in dry conditions and both Carlos and Davide made a good start, with Carlos fourth at the end of the first lap and Davide twelfth, having started from nineteenth place on the grid. After twelve laps and a number of crashes, a red flag stopped the race. A restart was required as the riders had only completed 12 of the planned 22 laps. In the second race, Carlos once again started from fifth while Giugliano got away from the tenth spot on the grid thanks to the work he’d done during the first ‘heat’. This time both Althea men had to face pouring rain and a cold wind. At the end of the first (of nine) laps, Checa was third, followed by Giugliano in fourth. Carlos then passed Badovini, taking command of the race when Haslam, ahead of him, crashed. In the final phase Carlos lost a little ground but, not wanting to take unnecessary risks, was satisfied with final third place. Davide meanwhile battled it out first with Laverty and then with Biaggi, projecting himself up into second position, a position that he held until the line to take his first ever Superbike podium, just behind race winner Guintoli and ahead of team-mate Checa.
Race 2 was declared ‘wet’ due to a damp track. Carlos decided to go out on a rain tyre, believing that it might come on to rain soon after but unfortunately it proved to be the wrong decision, and meant that he had to return to the garage after one lap to change the tyre. Carlos returned to the track in last position. Davide made a good start and lay in fourteenth place at the end of the first lap. He then passed first Hopkins and then Biaggi, moving up to eighth by mid-race. In the final stages the young Althea rider battled it out with both Biaggi and Badovini and closed the race in final ninth place, gaining another six championship points. Carlos was unfortunately unable to catch those ahead of him, despite a very fast pace (he recorded the fastest lap of the race – 1m38.092 – on the sixteenth lap); he closed race 2 in seventeenth position.
After three rounds, Carlos lies in second position in the general standings with 91 points, one point behind leader Biaggi. Thanks to today’s results Giugliano moves up from seventeenth to tenth position with 37 points. Ducati continues to lead the manufacturer’s championship with 136 points to Aprilia’s 100.
“I’m more than satisfied with the result in Race 1, because conditions were already tricky in the first phase, let alone in the second! After the restart, there was little traction, little grip, and when I saw some of the others go down, I decided it was better to finish the race than risk a fall. Considering the conditions, probably one of the worst SBK races I’ve ever ridden, we’re happy with third place. Congratulations to Davide too who made a great race – he deserved the result. In race 2 I made a mistake and take full responsibility for it. I chose to go out on a rain tyre as I though rain would come but I was wrong. I’m sorry I didn’t come straight back in to change it during the warm-up lap as, that way, I would have probably been able to close in the top ten but instead I waited and by then it was too late to be able to catch up. We turn the page and look ahead.”
“I’m very happy with how race 1 went of course as I didn’t really expect it today, after a very difficult weekend that has been conditioned by the weather from start to finish. It wasn’t easy of course and the bike was sliding around a lot even on the straight. Of course the conditions meant it was far from a relaxing race but, having said that, I felt fairly comfortable in the total wet after the restart. I had to fight against Carlos towards the end and that wasn’t easy, as I was worried that I would make a mistake that might affect Carlos’ race too but thankfully it all went well. I was able to take some good points in the second race also, and thanks to today’s results I’ve significantly improved my position in the overall standings so I go home very happy.”
- Effenbert Liberty Ducati
Chequered flag gone down for the third round of the Superbike World Championship in Assen, in a typical Netherland winter day the Liberty Racing Team Effenbert took his first victory with Sylvain Guintoli.
The whole team in celebration at Assen, not only for the first and second places caught by Guintoli in Race 1 and 2 but also for the other three riders Jakub Smrž, Brett McCormick and Maxime Berger snapped, respectively, the third, thirteenth and fifteenth, that have shown great determination, fighting tirelessly despite the twists and turns dictated by sudden changes in weather, real kingmaker in both races.
Strong emotions in race 1. After a poor start of the flagship Effenbert, Guintoli and Smrž have created great comeback to reach the third and fourth positions respectively. Then nine laps to go a heavy downpour has turned the table. Smrž fell right in the lap where the race has been suspended and he was able to retake the second part of the race due to its team technical capacity. Unfortunately, due to the damage reported from his Ducati, he had to start from the back of the grid and not from the third position, the place Czech rider occupied at the time the red flag. A great race for him, however, who finished seventh. But the hero of the day was Sylvain Guintoli, after a few laps led with great caution, he has launched its deadliest attack going to win his first SBK race, bending Giugliano and Checa. Happiness in Effenbert Liberty Racing team, who picked up his first victory in one of the most difficult days of World Superbike Championship, many skilled and talentuos riders have raised the white flag, so great credit to Guintoli who has finally realized the same time his own talent and team’s tecnica efforts.
With even the taste of champagne in the mouth it’s time for the second run where the Czech team that was deployed at the start with the clear intention to repeat the fantastic result gained a few hours before. For more than half of the race the dream of achieving two goals was caressed by the peremptory Smrž’s escape followed by Guintoli who after a bad start, has created a fantastic comeback, which allowed him to reach the fugitive team mate, overtaking one by one all his opponents. The end unfortunately was not lucky to Smrž, Jakub infact, lapping Aitchison, with the rear tire touched the wet grass and falling down. Meanwhile Guintoli leading the race but he has had to cope with the overwhelming return of Johnny Rea, the Honda’s rider due to better selection of tires, was able to overtake, just in the last lap, the French ace, taking away a victory that would have ensured a historic double Effenbert team.
Unfortunately to make very sad the second part of the day, have been falling in race 2 of our young riders Maxime Berger and Brett McCormick, both were competing in a great race being in the top ten, and if the French in the crash reported no damage the worse it went to his young Canadian teammate. Brett McCormick struggling with Checa, just back on track after the tire change, has fallen down having an horrific crash. Delivered at the University Hospital of Groningen is currently under constant medical supervision.
Since the early findings indicate that the rider had suffered a fracture of the fifth and sixth cervical vertebra and the next few hours will decide how to stabilize the fracture.
- Suzuki Report
Crescent FIXI Suzuki’s John Hopkins battled changeable weather, red flags, crashes and treacherous racing conditions at today’s third round of the World Superbike Championship at Assen in The Netherlands to record his best finish of the season so far.
Hopkins and the rest of the field had to make a difficult choice at the start of the second race as a damp, but drying track was declared wet for the race – so tyre selection was an important factor. Hopkins and his crew made a decision to use the intermediate tyres in the unpredictable conditions, but unfortunately the track started to dry quickly and the threatened rain never materialised, leaving Hopkins to battle on with a lack of feel and confidence in the tyres and try to get the best result possible. He brought his machine home in 11th place to take his best result so far this season and obtain valuable data for the team to work on.
In the first race Hopkins was well placed to battle for a top-six finish as the race reached just over half-way distance, but a sudden and torrential rainstorm caused the race to be red-flagged. The re-started race was a nine-lap contest in the treacherous conditions and Hopkins was one of many casualties as he slid off his Crescent FIXI Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 after only one lap. Fortunately he was uninjured and was able to take his place in the second race.
Team-mate Leon Camier had to pit in the initial race due to tyre degradation and in the re-run second part of the race he was a victim of the conditions and crashed on the sighting lap and was unable to make the re-start. Luckily he didn’t cause any further damage to himself on top of the injuries he received from yesterday’s huge crash in practice. The second race was less eventful for Camier, as he too chose the intermediate tyres and was also unable to put them to good use. He safely made his way to the finish without too many incidents to claim some valuable championship points and will now aim to get himself fully fit for the next event.
Today’s first race was won by Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli on a Ducati, with victory in the second event going to Jonathan Rea onboard his Factory Honda, despite the British rider sustaining a severe finger injury after crashing in the first race. Max Biaggi took over at the head of the Championship standings after former leader Carlos Checa failed to score in the second race.
Crescent FIXI Suzuki will next be in action in Italy when the World Superbike paddock heads to Monza for the fourth round of the season on Sunday May 6th.
John Hopkins – Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 11th: “The conditions today were very difficult for all of us. I got a decent start in race one, but got bottled in at the first turn and lost a few positions. I began to make my way back up the field and was just getting in touch with the back of the lead group when the rain fell and the race was stopped. Up until then, I had settled into a good rhythm and was feeling confident at the thought of mixing it with the leaders. When the race began again in the wet, I just had no grip at all and, like many others, slipped off on the soaking track. We basically made the wrong decision regarding tyre choice for race two and suffered because of that. It was a gamble that didn’t work and I was sliding around, both front and rear, but was determined to bring the bike home and get some points.”
Leon Camier – Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 14th: “For race one, our settings were a bit of a gamble and my tyre was shredded by nine laps. The race was then stopped a few laps later and we all went on full wets. I have no idea why I crashed on the warm-up lap because I was hardly touching the throttle. One minute I was OK and the next minute I was on my backside. We didn’t know what tyres to use for race two because although the track was mostly dry, the clouds seemed to be on their way again. I wasn’t feeling too confident, so went for what seemed the safe choice – intermediates – but our choice didn’t work out because the track dried. The guys on slicks could lap so much quicker and I couldn’t do anything about it. All I could do was ride as best I could, not crash and get to the finish line.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “Today was a really tough day at the office, not helped by not having a good wet weather set-up. We never had big grip issues in the wet last year in BSB, but we were definitely missing mechanical grip here today and that’s a shame because both John and Leon usually go well in the wet. We made some changes to the bikes for race two but the track dried and our plans went out of the window. Both riders were a bit low on confidence after their earlier crashes so we went for the safe option of intermediate tyres. If we’d chosen slicks, the story might have been very different, but we weren’t the only ones to get caught out.
“On a positive note, both John and Leon are happy with the chassis in dry conditions and the recent engine improvements by Yoshimura are definitely heading in the right direction. I’m also happy that John and Leon both brought their bikes home in the second race. It wasn’t easy but they knuckled down, crossed the finish line and scored some points.”
- Kawasaki Report
Tom’s fortunes in the two races at Assen were as changeable as the weather on raceday. In the first running of race one Tom’s bike suffered a faulty water pump hose clip and he was forced to retire from what had started out as a leading position. Rain returned just as Tom was experiencing his difficulties and the race was stopped soon after Tom had pulled out of the race. He was unable to make the restarted wet race, run over nine laps, which awarded full points and was won by Sylvain Guintoli.
In race two, run over the full 22-laps, Tom got the holeshot but Jakub Smrz had opted for an intermediate front tyre and shot into the lead for a time. Tom found his hard rear tyre option difficult to work with on a track surface that started out with some damp patches on it, but then rapidly dried out. He slowly dropped back; fighting all the way and ultimately rallying as his hard tyre started to work better as the race progressed.
Sykes therefore took ten points for his sixth place finish in race two, and in doing so remained is third place in the championship fight, only 13 points from new leader Max Biaggi, and 12 points behind Carlos Checa, who no-scored in race two.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki’s rookie SBK rider, Leonardo Mercado, scored a best Kawasaki finish in race one, tenth in fully wet conditions. He followed that up with another points scoring ride to 15th and another point in race two.
Pedercini man David Salom was 13th in race one, and 12th in race two. Mercado and Salom both have nine points, with Mercado ranked 19th and Salom 20th.
Tom Sykes: “A tricky day but things could have been worse. It is just the way racing goes because we have had good pace all weekend with the ZX-10R and that pole time was very good from yesterday and I was confident o build on that. In race one we were able to do something from pole but unfortunately we had a small issue with the clip for the radiator hose. In race two with many things to consider, we chose a different tyre in the rear, the hard one, and it looked like it cost us a lot of time and caused me a lot of issues. At the end of the day we brought the bike and there are many positives to take away. We have some very good circuits coming up for our bike.”
Sofuoglu, was fourth in qualifying, rode with pace and control to be in the leading group and was not too badly affected by his recent knee injury. As the track conditions changed the top four positions changed and Sofuoglu rode to finish second after race winner Lorenzo Lanzi passed at unstoppable pace.
After his third race on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R he is now back at the top of the table, on the same 45 points as Intermoto Step Kawasaki rider Fabien Foret. Fabien was forced to pull in today because of a rear tyre issue in the frequently soaking conditions.
Sheridan Morais had a similar problem with grip from the rear and carried on to finish 15th and score a single point. He is now in 12th place overall.
Romain Lanusse made good use of his Intermoto Step Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R to score 11th place and score useful championship points. He is now 16th overall.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I think I am happy for second place because in these conditions if you can finish the race you have already made a good job. We are quite happy and I am a world championship rider so I have to think about the world championship. Still I am not really fit but after a couple of races I think my injured knee will be ready for real dry conditions. I was happy to ride in the dry but today I think we were just a little bit lucky.”
Sheridan Morais: “Yesterday in the rain we were third quickest and yet today sometimes I was ten seconds a lap slower than I was yesterday in similar conditions. I know I had no rear grip and even when I look at the rear tyre it looks like brand new. So I do not know what caused that but I was riding on the absolute limit and nearly crashed I do not know how many times. It was a tough day but we got the bike home.”