#NLDWorldSBK Assen, Saturday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport, World SSP300
Starting from third place, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) soon found himself at the front of the field after passing Razgatlioglu. After battling with Razgatlioglu and then with Bautista in the last part of the race, Rea was able to hold on the Spanish rider to claim the win. The six-time WorldSBK Champion explained: “It was so tough. Both Alvaro and Toprak were super strong, especially in that middle part of the race. The gap on my pit board was always so small. I understood that I was in front. In the end, we could get it done. A big team effort because we changed the bike quite a lot since Aragon. It’s more of an Assen bike, it’s flowing a little bit better here. It shows that our ZX-10RR is working in a bigger window and that’s really positive.” Rea is now one win away from 100 wins with Kawasaki, as he recovered the Championship lead by 2 points. “If it’s not tomorrow, I’m sure it’s going to happen at some point this season. We can be very proud of our partnership together and look forward to many more race wins” he added.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) finished in second place 0.103s behind Rea. After passing Razgatlioglu for second place, he aimed to attack the six-time WorldSBK Champion on the final lap of the race. Bautista commented: “Starting from the second row, I had to battle with some riders. When I saw that Jonathan and Toprak were creating a gap, I passed the riders in front, and I tried to reduce the gap. In the last chicane, Jonathan was breaking really well so it was really difficult to overtake him. I tried to get closer to try to overtake him, but it was too risky. Second position is a good result. Our performance has been positive today.”
Reigning WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) completed Race 1’s podium, one second behind the race winner. The Turkish rider started from pole position and made a good start before dropping some positions. He battled with Rea and Bautista, before the two others managed to escape in front. Razgatlioglu explained: “I tried my best but, in the race, I was feeling some tyre problems. We are again on the podium; we take good points for the Championship. We were trying our best today. I need to win now. I’m always in third position, but for me this isn’t enough. Tomorrow I will fight for the win again. It won’t be easy because everybody is very fast, Alvaro and Jonny are very fast.” Discussing how he plans to end the win drought, Razgatlioglu said, “Tomorrow, I will change the plan for the race. In this race, I followed Jonny and maybe tomorrow I ride alone. I don’t know, we will see.”
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) finished in fourth place despite having fought at the front in the early laps. He was 8.7s behind teammate Razgatlioglu but also 7.7s clear of Lecuona. Locatelli said: “It was a good race for us today because we closed on other people. For sure, it was not easy in the middle of the race to try to stay with the front group. We improved a lot this morning and, in the end, I could stay around the first 10 laps with the first group.” His objective for tomorrow is clear; “We now have lot of data to try to prepare the bike for tomorrow. I want to try to stay with the front guy until the end of the race.”
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was fifth, claiming his first WorldSBK top five for Honda. He explained: “I started the weekend strong but in FP2 I had a big crash in Turn 3, and this morning I crashed in Turn 9 when I was trying the race pace with qualifying tyre to prepare for tomorrow. I didn’t like the new front tyre I tried and crashed. I lost a bit the feeling after that. We stayed calm. I had a strong fight with Baz, and I finish fifth so I’m really happy. The pace is better than yesterday, except in the last two laps.”
Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) completed the top six as the first BMW rider and Independent rider. Baz enjoyed his first top six of the season whilst chasing Lecuona for a top five. Following today’s results, he now stands as the first Independent rider in the Championship standings. He commented: “We started the race with no more than three laps in a row yesterday, so I wasn’t confident with the pace. But I knew we found something in FP3 as I did a good Superpole. So, I just brought the best the best result of the team. We took top Independent, it’s not something I’m really happy about but it’s super important for the team and BMW. At the moment, we want more but we are in the right direction.”
German rookie Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) and Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) finished in seventh and eighth place respectively whilst Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was ninth for his first top ten finish with BMW. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) was tenth.
Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) won Race 1, despite the race being red flag with five laps to go. When the red flag was shown, and the results taken from the last timing point, Aegerter’s margin of victory was just 0.081s. He declared: “I’m really happy with the 25 points. The Red Flag came out five laps before the end of the race so I was surprised. I had a very good pace, also this morning with the Superpole new lap record. Ten Kate Racing Yamaha made a fantastic job and I’m super happy to give them a victory at their home round.”
Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) finished second, claiming his first ever podium in the category for his home round. Van Straalen had taken the race lead in the early stages until Aegerter made his move through the right-hander of Turns 13 and 14 on Lap 14 of the scheduled 18. The Dutchman said: “It was tight. We left the race with the two of us. My start was not so good so I need to come from far, but I made it to the field and then it was just the three of us. Aegerter followed me on the pace. It was very nice to lead the race at your home round. We have a good pace and I’m happy with that. We will try to find something in the race data and be better tomorrow.”
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) had a good start as he led the race in the early first laps before being demoted to third place by Aegerter and van Straalen. The Italian rider claimed his second podium of the season. He said: “It was a good race for me with another podium in the end. I’m happy about the race, especially the first laps because I was leading the race. The last laps I started to lose a little bit of time. We need to find solution for when the tyres start to drop. But we are here.”
Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) was fourth, claiming his best result of the season so far, while Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) finished in fifth place. Patrick Hobelsberger (Kallio Racing) completed the top six, his best result in WorldSSP so far.
Starting from pole position, Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) claimed his second win in WorldSSP300, the first one at his home round, with Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) in second. The pair managed to escape at the front, as they battled throughout the 14-lap race. Only 0.038s separated the two on the finish line with Steeman taking the advantage when the Frenchman ran wide at Turn 9 of the last lap.
Steeman commented his race: “The race was good. I tried to go away but Di Sora stayed behind me. I had the feeling that I had a little bit more pace, especially first three sectors, maybe in the last one Di Sora was a bit better. I tried to always be in front, so the gap was getting bigger and bigger. In the last laps, I saw he made some mistakes in some corner where I had different lines. My strategy was to pass him in the last left corner, the fast now, because I am normally very strong there. In the end I didn’t need to, and it feels amazing to take the win in Assen.”
Di Sora explained: “It was a very fast race with Victor. He was leading for most of the race, and we were helping each other to escape at the front. The strategy was to let him pass before the final sector, but I went a bit too wide. I lost too much time. He closed the door very well at the last chicane. P2 is great in the end. Aragon was very tough for us so being on the front row on the grid and finishing in second fighting for the win with such a gap, we’re very happy about it.”
8.8s behind the leading group, it was Mirko Gennai (BrCorse Team) in third after an amazing battle between eight riders. The Italian rider claimed his first ever WorldSSP300 podium and said: “It was a difficult race. I had a lot of riders in front of me. I tried to overtake many of them and in the last lap, I overtook the last rider of my group to get third place. It’s my first podium in WorldSSP300 and I’m very excited. Tomorrow, I want to fight for another podium to get more points for the Championship.”
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) finished just outside the podium in fourth, 0.124s behind Gennai and 0.06s ahead of Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing WorldSSP300) in fifth. 2017 WorldSSP300 Champion Marc Garcia (Yamaha MS Racing) crossed the finish line in sixth place maintaining his Championship lead.