WorldSBK Assen: Saturday Roundup – World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300
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.
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.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track at Round 4 on Sunday for Race 2 at 1pm local time.
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.
In a stunning closing minutes of WorldSSP300 Superpole, Borja Sanchez (Halcourier Racing) secured pole position ahead of home hero Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) in an overcast World Supersport 300 session.
Wildcard rider Finn de Bruin (Pearle Gebben Racing) swiftly moved through from the opening Superpole session of the day, ahead of Giuseppe De Gruttola (SK Racing) who also secured automatic promotion into the fight for pole position. With the top six split by over a second, the WorldSSP300 series continues to provide edge of your seat action for fans around the circuit and behind the TV screens.
As the sun broke through for SP2, the hotly contested session was underway as the WorldSSP300 riders took to the fight for only the second ever Superpole session. De Gruttola had a strong start and was up and battling for the lead, but ultimately it was Spanish rider Borja Sanchez who took pole position in the closing minutes, with a lap time of 1.53.814.
Despite riding with an ankle sprain, Scott Deroue – the race one winner- as able to secure a front row start for the second time, this time in front of his home fans. Paolo Grassia (3570 Made in CIV) secured his first front row finish of the season, just over half a second behind the pole position man.