WorldSBK 2017 – Round Four – Assen
Jonathan Rea takes victory  in Assen opener | Chaz Davies hampered by technical drama

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took a clear victory in Race 1 at the Acerbis Dutch Round on Saturday, after a long battle with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ended in a frustrating DNF for the Welshman who pulled up at the end of the penultimate lap. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) crossed the line in second place, ahead of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who completed the rostrum places.

Rea had started in fourth place on the grid, having initially been on pole but being moved back three places to the head of row two due to a penalty, following a clash with Davies at the end of SP2. Davies then went on to lead for most of the race before Rea took over in the final stages and then the Ducati rider pulled off track due to a technical issue just before the start of the final lap.

Chaz Davies – DNF

“It was a good race. I got into my rhythm at the front and the pace was strong, especially in the early laps. Still, we struggled a bit in a couple of areas and I didn’t want to make a mistake, so I tried to boil it down to a last-lap fight but unfortunately we were cut one lap short. It’s pretty disappointing because, even without knowing how it would have turned out, I think it would have been a spicy last lap to watch. That said, it was a good race until then. We need to make some small but important changes overnight and hopefully we’ll be able to battle for the win again tomorrow in Race 2 and make it one lap further.”

Davies’ misfortune saw Sykes take a lonely second, the Yorkshireman crossing the finish line 4.5s behind Rea and 13 seconds in front of third placed Melandri. It was a good performance by Sykes considering his recent issues with a stomach illness.

Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) produced another solid result in fourth place on his Ducati Panigale R, his highest finish so far in 2017. An excellent ride by Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) to fifth on his return to action also gave him his best result of the season to date.

There were also season-best results for Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) in sixth and seventh respectively. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) completed the top ten.

There was frustration for Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) who ran long on the first corner and then crashed out of his home race at turn 5 early on. That was before his teammate Alex Lowes went down at turn 10 midrace to make it a difficult day for Yamaha.

Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) were both unable to finish due to technical problems.

1st – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

“I’m really happy, I’ve had so many questions over the weekend asking why I’ve won so many here and I don’t know why. It’s just a circuit I really like, it suits my riding style a bit and to make it happen here again is great.”

2nd – Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

“I am happy with today considering where I was on Tuesday afternoon, to be second here to Jonathan is not too bad – OK I was gifted it but I had some limitations today. I think tomorrow we need to improve, overall we’re collecting as many points as we can and were close to a good set-up.”

3rd – Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

“For sure the podium here was impossible to get until this morning and my speed this morning was not good enough for top five, but then in Superpole and the feeling was back, and then in the beginning of the lap my pace was ok but not enough to stay with the front guys. Fourth for me was ok here in Assen.”

#DutchWorldSBK at TT Circuit Assen: Race 1
  1. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki
  2. Tom Sykes Kawasaki +4.501
  3. Marco Melandri Ducati +17.673

Championship Standings after Race 1, Round 4
  1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (170 points)
  2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki (111 points)
  3. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati (97 points)

WorldSSP: Sofuoglu dominates field to take stunning pole position

WorldSSP title holder Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) notched his first pole of 2017 on Saturday at the Acerbis Dutch Round with a 1’37.805 best lap, to put him ahead of PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI) on the first row.

Sofuoglu will be looking to take full advantage of his top spot on the grid as he looks for his first points of the year in Sunday’s race, with injury having hampered him earlier in the season – followed by a crash in Aragon.

Turkish rider Sofuoglu qualified a significant 0.674s margin ahead of Jacobsen in Tissot Superpole 2 at Assen, with Canducci just behind the American in third.

Row two will comprise championship standings leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), his fellow Frenchman Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and South African rider Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing).

Lining up on the third row are British pair Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) – the latter of those two having won the 2016 Assen race – ahead of Italy’s Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).

Two more Britons will feature on the fourth row, Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) in tenth and 12th respectively. They sandwich 11th placed qualifier Hannes Soomer (WILSport Racedays) who made it through from SP1. Soomer was the highest qualifier of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup class riders.

Also graduating from the earlier Tissot Superpole 1 shootout was Stapleford, who was 0.057s quicker than Soomer in that session.

The fourth WorldSSP race of the year takes place at 11.30am local time on Sunday morning at the Acerbis Dutch Round – and could produce a fourth different winner of the year so far, with victories already in 2017 for Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag), Caricasulo and Mahias.

Lachlan Epis was the leading Australian in qualifying, down in 25th position, just ahead of Anthony West. 

Pole Position – Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)

“I am very, very happy with that. Yesterday in qualifying I spent all my time working for race simulations and long runs on the track. For Superpole I thought I could do a 1’37 and a track record. When we took to the track in Superpole 2 we put in a soft tyre and set a new track record. I am happy for this and for the pole win because the season started in a very difficult way for me. Now it is coming good – but most important is tomorrow and to try and get 25 points for winning the race.”

WorldSSP Tissot-Superpole 2

  1. Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR) Kawasaki 1.37.805
  2. PJ Jacobsen (USA) MV Agusta 1.38.479 (+0.674)
  3. Michael Canducci (ITA) Kawasaki 1.38.556 (+0.751)