Press releases from the series organizers and teams after Sunday's races at Assen:
Rea takes victory in gripping 200th WorldSBK race
World Champion holds off Sykes to take double victory at Assen
In pleasant sunny conditions at the TT Assen Circuit on Sunday Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) gave a superb demonstration of his talent with a tight victory over second placed teammate Tom Sykes, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) completed the podium in third.
In his 200th WorldSBK race Rea held his nerve to cross the line 0.025s ahead of Sykes as the Yorkshireman applied the pressure in the final stages. It was Rea’s second win of the weekend, his seventh victory from eight races so far in 2017 and his 11th career win at Assen – with maximum points from Round 4 in the Netherlands putting the KRT man 64 points clear at the head of the standings.
It was a valiant effort for Sykes after his recent health issues and he will aim for his first win of 2017 next time out, in two weeks time at Imola.
After his cruel luck on Saturday, which saw Davies pull up with a technical problem with a lap to go when fighting for victory in Race 1, the Welshman bounced back with a fifth podium result of 2017 so far, in third place.
A good ride by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) at his home round saw the Dutchman recover from a crash on Saturday to register a solid fourth place finish from 11th on the grid. It might have been even better for Van der Mark but for a big wobble for the Yamaha rider at turn 12 midrace -when he was chasing Davies for third.
Van der Mark’s Yamaha colleague Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also made up for his Race 1 disappointment to finish in the top five again, after crashing out on Saturday.
Another Englishman Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) rode well for sixth, finishing just over a second ahead of Spaniard Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team).
The top ten was completed by Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team).
There were crashes for Italian trio Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) and Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) meaning no points for any of them. They will each have a chance to make amends at their home round in Italy at Imola in two weeks’ time.
1st - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
"It has been an incredible weekend of racing, of course the race wins were really nice to take away. Today was a race of two halves, in the first half I raced hard until I got a warning so in the second half I just managed things to try and be safe and bring her home."
2nd - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)
"It was a very close finish and I have to say thanks to my publish, my fans and all the team for being very understanding about my physical condition. Today I felt we had a package capable of winning. I always kept trying and I am obviously disappointed not to take the win."
3rd - Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"It was tough, I enjoyed the racing, thay was good but in terms of how my race went I can't say I'm happy with it, I didn't get the bike that I wanted so eprhaps we went the wrong way with the set-up and we struggled to get the feeling with the bike that I like. We move onto Imola, Ducati's backyard where hopefully we can be faster."
Rea Wins Race Two From Sykes By Just 0.025 Second
A 1-2 finish from KRT Riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes in the second Superbike World Championship race of the Assen weekend provided great drama in the final chicane, with Sykes closing in to within 0.025 seconds of victory but Rea holding on to secure another double Dutch success.
The classic TT Circuit at Assen provided an ideal backdrop for Rea to start the 200th WorldSBK race of his career and he duly took away his seventh race victory of 2017, his 11th at Assen since he started his WorldSBK career and his third double at this 4.542km circuit since he joined Kawasaki in 2015.
It was an important day of statistics for Rea, as he also secured his 45th career win in WorldSBK and his 30th individual race win for Kawasaki.
Tom Sykes and his crew worked to improve his machine set-up overnight and he almost took his first race win of the year as a reward, only losing out on a last chicane attack on Rea by 0.025 seconds across the line after 21 intense laps.
Battling the high winds today like all his peers, Tom duly overcame his continuing physical issues to record two second places at Assen this weekend, making it six podiums from the eight races held so far this season.
In the championship Rea now leads by 64 points, from his team-mate Sykes, with Chaz Davies third on 111 points and second race faller Marco Melandri on 97.
The next races in the series will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May, at the Imola circuit in Italy.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been an incredible weekend of racing. I have been especially happy with Superpole yesterday because the lap I made then was maybe the best lap I have ever made on a bike. I am really proud of that. Of course the race wins were really nice to take away. Today was a race of two halves. In the first half I raced hard until I got a warning so in the second half I just managed things to try and be safe and bring her home. I had a little bit left at the end but the biggest problem was the wind today. I was pulling a gap but then I had a huge front slide in T11, and my foot came off the peg, at mid-race distance. I decided just to ride and save something for the last laps after that. I had a big wobble coming out of 11 again near the end and I then just tried to be clever in the last lap and cover the last corner. My line was probably not the fastest way around there but it covered any move up the inside and I made it to the line first.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It was a very close finish and I have to say thanks to the public, my fans and all the team for being very understanding about my physical condition. Yesterday we had an acceptable race but today we never stopped pushing to find an ideal set-up, right up until 30 minutes before the race started. Marcel and I were still talking about how to get the bike easier for me to ride. Physically, I was obviously not fully comfortable with the bike set-up from yesterday but today I felt we had a package capable of winning. I just did not have the bike in the right place at the right time and did not get the win for that reason. I always kept trying and I am obviously disappointed not to take the win. But considering where I was even at the start of the race week, if anybody had have offered me two second places from Assen I would have thought it was never going to happen.”
Chaz Davies is 3rd in Race 2 at Assen, Marco Melandri forced to retire after a crash
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team stepped once again on the podium in Race 2 of the WorldSBK Championship at Assen (Netherlands) with Chaz Davies, who crossed the finish line in third position. Marco Melandri, on the contrary, was forced to abandon the race after crashing out during lap 9 at turn 5 while he was in seventh position.
Starting respectively in tenth and seventh position, both Davies and Melandri fought their way through the traffic in the early laps, progressively climbing to the edge of the top five. Despite not being able to keep the same pace that allowed him to take the lead in Race 1 because of the strong winds, Davies eventually managed to break away and climb up to third position in lap 8, then successfully defended it until the finish line. Melandri, on the other hand, crashed while trying to stay within podium contention. The Italian walked away without injuries, but wasn’t able to rejoin the race.
After four rounds, Davies (111 points) and Melandri (97 points) are respectively third and fourth in the championship. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action for fifth round of the season, scheduled for May 12-14 in Imola (Italy).
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 3rd
“I enjoyed coming back through the field, but honestly it wasn’t easy and we rode a tough race today. We simply didn’t have the ideal feeling, which we had both in Race 1 and this morning in WUP. We lacked grip on the front and it felt a bit like riding on eggshells in the last 10 laps. We need to address why, either if it’s because of a setup issue or the strong winds, but it was important not to crash and bring home points, as I realized quite early that third-place was the best we could do today. Still, our goal is to win whenever it’s possible, and hopefully we’ll have another chance at Imola, which is a special place both for me and Ducati.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – DNF
“Today’s conditions were tough, as the wind was really strong. Because of this, I made a mistake in turn 11 during the sixth lap and lost four positions. But, I was coming back strong. It’s a pity we crashed out, because I think I could have fought with Vd Mark as our bike was more competitive than in Race 1, even though it still wobbled a lot. Unfortunately I always had this issue in this track, perhaps because I’m lighter than most riders and can’t properly load the rear on this type of tarmac. Now we go to Imola, a track that I really enjoy riding at, where I’m confident we’ll leave behind these problems to have two strong races.”
Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A CEO and Team Principal:
“It’s been a difficult weekend for us, as we didn’t collect results in line with our potential. We’ll try to learn also from this in order to be as ready as ever for our upcoming home round, which represents a further source of motivation, and put on a show in front of our home crowd.”
Pata Yamaha Bounces Back with Valiant Fourth and Fifth in Assen
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes turned around a challenging race weekend in style today the two putting all their race craft into their YZF-R1s to take fourth and fifth respectively in the second race of the Dutch FIM Superbike World Championship round at Assen.
The home crowd were out in force in Assen rooting for their national hero van der Mark and the young Dutchman was determined not to disappoint. A frustrating DNF yesterday had put the motivated Yamaha rider back in 11th on the fourth row of the grid, with a pack of fast riders in front to take on. With turn one of the opening lap of the race out of the way safely, van der Mark got straight down to business, treating the thousands of fans to flashes of orange charging through the pack from the special Alpinestars leathers and R1 livery he wore this weekend for the King's birthday.
Using his YZF-R1 to full effect he was able to carve from 11th all the way up to fourth, each pass sticking and holding. By lap nine he was less than half a second from third and quick enough to challenge for the podium. Determinedly challenging Chaz Davies for multiple laps, a couple of big 'moments' at fast points of the track, combined with intense pain in his right arm following yesterday's big highside, tempered the run. Van der Mark kept it consistent and took his orange liveried R1 across the line in fourth to the delight of the crowd, signing off in style after a challenging start to a special home race.
Feeling just as motivated and determined as his teammate, British rider Lowes was also relegated to a less than perfect grid start position following yesterday's race one DNF. Sitting in 15th on the fifth row of the grid, the Cathedral didn't promise an easy race. Undaunted, and unfazed, Lowes was quick off the line and soon settled into a comfortable race pace, waiting patiently for his moment to strike. A handful of measured moves put him an impressive six positions ahead to ninth by lap 10, chasing down Nicky Hayden in eighth. The American was soon taken and Lowes' charge continued, mirroring his teammate's progress as he pushed his YZF-R1 through the pack. Leon Camier and Eugene Laverty were next, taking him past the entire mid-pack.
With just four laps remaining, the gap to van der Mark in fourth was by this point too large, leaving Lowes to bring it home in fifth having put the early weekend challenges behind him and settling his score with the Assen circuit.
Today's results places Lowes in fifth in the championship standings on 76 points, teammate van der Mark sits in sixth with 62. The team now move to Italy for the Imola round in two weeks time.
Michael van der Mark - 4th
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
"I am pretty happy with that! I did what I could and I was happy with my race pace, every time I overtook a rider I made it stick. I was closing on Chaz Davies, then I had a couple of scary moments at one of the fastest points of the track. It is one of my strongest points at this circuit, so I knew I could make up a lot of time there, but by then the wind had changed and the bike was maybe balanced a little too much towards the rear so the front was in the air. I had a big wobble, after that I decided to do my own race as I had a big gap to the rider behind and to be honest, after yesterday's crash, the last four or five laps I had so much pain in my arm. The Doctors did a great job to give me some painkillers which allowed me to race, and if you had said I would get fourth position before the race, I would have taken this very happily!"
Alex Lowes - 5th
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
"Honestly, after Friday and yesterday we needed a good result today. In previous years I have not been as consistent as I wanted to be and this year, it's something I've tried to improve. I have always been fast, just lacking a bit of consistency. Yesterday's race was hard for me to take as I don't really know what I did wrong. I felt confident for a top six finish, so today, starting from 15th, I just wanted to do a solid job. We made some changes with the bike; I'm still not fully happy with the setup, and without my mistakes on Friday we could have made the bike a bit better for today. But, to get fifth from 15th on the grid is fantastic and all the hard work the team have put in this weekend is just incredible, that was for them! I am looking forward to starting Imola with hopefully a lot calmer Friday, which should set us up for an even better result."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"Everybody in the Pata Yamaha Team should be proud of their efforts today - it's been a really tough weekend! It was always going to be a challenging race from 11th and 15th on the grid, especially with limited track time for Alex after an incredibly difficult Friday and a double DNF yesterday. For Michael's crew to improve his bike to the point where he could challenge for a podium until very near the end of the race, and for Alex to move forward from a difficult start and achieve a top five result on merit, was a great reward for everybody's dedication.
This result demonstrates how far forward not just the R1 has evolved, but the project itself. Small steps in the development of the bike and the development of the teams experience, plus the confidence of the riders, will now make the difference in terms of closing the gap to the podium guys. After todays result and the promise shown at the other races so far this season, we can be confident that the target is achievable"
Milwaukee Aprilia recorded another points finish with Eugene Laverty in Race 2 at Assen, but suffered an unfortunate crash for Lorenzo Savadori
With the riders starting on the first and second rows for the final race of the weekend, hopes were high for a strong result from Lorenzo and Eugene following their best results of the year in Race 1. A rapid getaway for Eugene saw him move from fifth to second place on the first lap, before he moved past polesitter Xavi Fores to take the lead of the race by lap two. Teammate Lorenzo, starting second, had a slower getaway and was caught up in a battle with the Ducatis of Davies and Melandri.
Eugene was then engaged in a fight for the lead with the Kawasakis of Rea and Sykes, and put up a strong defence against them. Lorenzo, having dropped to eighth, began a charge on lap seven and fought past Fores to take sixth place behind his teammate Eugene. His pace was consistent, but an unfortunate crash at the fast turn seven on lap 11 put an end to his attack and forced him to retire.
As he managed his front tyre wear Eugene began slipping backwards, racing with the Yamahas of Van der Mark and Lowes before he ultimately came home in a respectable eighth place with eight points.
The team now head to the famed Imola circuit in Italy for Round 5 of the 2017 WorldSBK championship in two weeks' time, where they will target further gains and finished in the big points positions.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal
Qualifying was very strong for us, and starting from the front and second rows was great for the team, the sponsors and of course the riders. In Race 1 we had a real challenge, as we have lots new settings and not much time to try race simulations in practice. Tyre wear was an unknown for us and it showed with Eugene, whose front was destroyed at the end of the race. Lorenzo had similar issues but did really well to earn his fifth place.
Sunday was a mixed bag, although we had great starting positions on the first and second rows. Lorenzo got into a nice rhythm and fought past Fores, but he pushed a little too hard and lost the front, which put him out of the race unfortunately. Eugene finishing eighth wasn't quite what we'd hoped for starting fifth. But, we did get a lot of valuable data on the tyre wear issues he's had, and data that will help us address the bike balance in his case particularly as there is a significant change in bike balance as the fuel load decreases.
Overall we're very happy with the results. Eugene we know was hurt by his tyres, and Lorenzo could have finished in the top six if not for his crash. We have plenty of good data to work with, and the team now goes to Imola feeling positive for Aprilia's home race.
Eugene Laverty #50
Grid: P5 Race: P8, 8 points
The new reverse grid rules helped us today, because it gave us chance to show how quick we are in the early laps of a race. I felt comfortable on the bike and I really went for it, and I had a good scrap with Fores and the Kawasakis at the top.
The problem came after about 10 laps, because the front tyre again was losing grip and performance and I started dropping back. My pace was consistent but for sure we could have finished higher.
This weekend confirmed the areas we need to improve in. We were really strong in some parts but the tyre wear hurt us in others. It’s good for Aprilia to see that we are strong in the first laps, and we will see what Imola brings for us in two weeks.
Lorenzo Savadori #32
Grid: P2 Race: Retired
It was an unlucky race today. It was good to have a front row position to start, and I was on the softer tyre. At the beginning I didn’t push hard, and because of that I started to lose positions.
After 6 laps I started pushing hard but I was losing time fighting with Fores and Melandri. My lap times were getting better when I was past, but unfortunately I crashed at turn 7.
I’m sorry to the team for the result in this race, but I tried my best and it did not work today. Now we go to Imola which is a home race for me, and I really like the track. We have some things to improve on the bike so our pace is better, but I am confident in Milwaukee Aprilia.
Hayden and Bradl round out top-10 in closing race of Dutch Round
TT Circuit Assen, Netherlands
The Dutch Round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close with the second race of the weekend at the TT Circuit Assen. After 21 intense laps throughout which the wind played a strong part, Nicky Hayden crossed the line in 9th place, with his Red Bull Honda World Superbike team mate Stefan Bradl one position behind in tenth.
Hayden got a great launch from 13th place on the grid and was already up to eighth place at the end of the opening lap. In the first half of the race, Nicky stayed in touch with the group fighting for sixth place on board his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine and, as the race entered its final part, he did his utmost to defend his position from a resurgent Jordi Torres, who overtook the American on the penultimate lap.
Bradl didn’t enjoy the best of starts from the front row of the grid and went all the way down to thirteenth in the early stages of the encounter. The 27-year-old from Germany was then able to set into a consistent rhythm and elevated himself to tenth place, his final position at the chequered flag.
The next round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at Imola’s ‘Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari’ in a fortnight’s time.
Nicky Hayden 69
Today was a much better race. I made a pretty good start, got in a battle with some other riders and was feeling like I was having one of my better races of the year. We were fighting with the wind, which was quite strong today and surely didn’t help. We need to do some work on the front-end in order to improve the tyre life for the second part of the race. The thing that hurt the most, though, was all the track-time we lost especially on Friday. I want to thank the guys because they worked hard and never lost focus, despite a challenging weekend.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Stefan Bradl 6
Today’s race was a bit of a reality check for us. I’m quite disappointed because in the first few laps the race ran out of my hands: I was struggling in the first corner and couldn’t build a good rhythm, because it took me a bit to find the feeling with the front-end of the bike after the changes we made. At the end of the race, though, my pace was consistent, although not as quick as I would have liked it to be, but still we were able to make up some places. There’s a lot of work to do still because Imola is not too far away and we need to be ready for it.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
This morning we tried a different front tyre solution – a harder option – and Nicky was quite pleased with it. We decided to use it in the race and combine it with a harder option at the rear. He was very competitive in the first 6-7 laps after a good start, then had to drop the pace a little as he lost a bit of grip at the front; he couldn’t push as hard, especially in the last part of the lap. Stefan struggled a bit at the beginning, but then he settled into a steady rhythm which ultimately resulted in a top-10 finish. Obviously we cannot be happy with the outcome of the weekend, but we now have a better and clearer picture of what we need to do. There are many areas where we need to improve, but we will take every indication from here in order to be well prepared for Imola.
A good recovery and seventh place for Torres and Althea BMW at Assen
Assen (The Netherlands), Sunday 30 April 2017
The Althea BMW Racing team has concluded the Assen Superbike weekend with mixed results; Jordi Torres crossed the line seventh in today’s SBK race, Raffaele De Rosa seventeenth.
In the STK1000 championship, a crash unfortunately put paid to Marco Faccani's race.
Superbike - Race 2 – today, from twelfth on the grid, Torres lost a little ground off the line, positioning fourteenth through the opening laps. Right behind Mercado, he was able to pass him on lap seven. From then on, thanks to a stronger pace than those immediately ahead of him, the Spaniard was able to make a series of passes to move into ninth on lap twelve. Able to get the better of both Hayden and Laverty in the final stages, Jordi crossed the line in seventh position.
De Rosa, eighteenth off the line, struggled to make up positions in today’s race due to strong winds. Lying in seventeenth place for most of the race, the Italian held that position all the way to the finish line.
STK1000 - Race – fifth on the grid, Faccani immediately made up two places through the first corners. Unfortunately, the Italian suffered a bad crash after just one lap, after which the race was interrupted with a red flag. The race was restarted a short time later but Faccani was unable to take part, due to the damage caused to his BMW in the crash.
Four rounds into the 2017 championship and Torres lies eighth in the standings with 57 points while De Rosa, after what is his first SBK event of the year, has scored 3 points, placing 22nd. In the Stock1000 category, Faccani positions ninth with 11 points. BMW continues to hold fourth in the SBK manufacturer's classification with 63 points, while Althea BMW also lies fourth in the team rankings (79 points).
"I struggled at the start with the fresh tyre but after four or five laps I started to gain in confidence, managing to pass several riders and make a fairly good recovery. With quite strong pace right until the end, I was also able to edge past Laverty just before the line, to finish seventh. Not bad but I hope to be able to do more at Imola, the first of the team’s ‘home’ tracks.”
Raffaele De Rosa
“I tried to start strong and push right away and I was feeling quite good with my BMW until about half way through the race. Once the wind picked up though, I had some difficulty managing the bike and I was just trying to get to the finish line. I’m not pleased with the result of course but we know we have the potential to do better…”
“It was a pity to have to end the race on lap two; unfortunately, I was fighting with another rider and I just lost the front. I went down quite hard but luckily I’m fine, which is the important thing. I hope we can make up for this at the next races, starting with Imola. I thank the team for their work as we were really competitive, I apologise to them too for it having been such a short race.”
Mercado defends himself in Race 2, 12 °classified.
Pontone, 15° classified.
Assen, 30 April 2017 – Mercado defends himself in Race 2.
Today’s sunny weather and track conditions were almost opposite to the ones in which Race 1 was held yesterday, making difficult for Leandro Mercado to find a good setting. The Argentinean rider who is still learning his RSV4 reactions under pressure, took the start from the second row of the grid and completed the 21 laps in the 12th position of the final standing.
LEANDRO MERCADO #36 – DUTCH ROUND – RACE 2 – 12° classified –“Today’s race has been a tough one, even more than I expected it to be !. During this mornings’ warm up we have tried a number of solutions aiming to reduce bike’s instability, but we finally decided to use yesterday’s settings. I expected tires to make the difference, and as today’s temperature was up to our understanding perfect for soft tires we decided to so. Honestly, I just did not get the result I was looking for, and it was even worse. My bike was more instable than yesterday and things were difficult at that stage. It was also a physically demanding situation as I could hardly keep the corner line. Setting the pace has not been easy, so I am happy that I made until the end and that I could get some more information which will no doubt turn to be useful towards next races.
I wish to thank very much my team for the great effort they have done throughout the weekend, and just say that we all know that we will have a chance to make amends at our home round in Italy at Imola in two weeks” .
It was a hard race also for Armando Pontone, who took the start of the second round of the brand new WSP 300 class from the 14° position of the starting grid.
ARMANDO PONTONE #80 – DUTCH ROUND – Race WSP300 – 15° classified. “ A very tough race for me too. We have been trying to solve a number of small setting problems since Friday, and we have almost found a good one. I wish to say that I am not happy with myself as I am not riding the way I should, but I wish to remark that I will do my very best to be able to reach the position I deserve”.
WorldSSP: Runaway win for Sofuoglu in Dutch sunshine
Brilliant victory to kick-start season for World Champion, with Mahias and Cluzel also on the podium
The WorldSSP race at the Acerbis Dutch Round saw the reigning World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) produce a masterclass to dominate from pole, with the Turk joined on the podium by Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
In clear weather conditions at the TT Assen Circuit Sofuoglu bounced back from his early season problems to take the holeshot and get the hammer down, leading from start to finish and crossing the line +2.611s in front of closest challenger Mahias.
It was the perfect response from the five-time World Champion as he registered his first points of 2017, having missed the first two rounds of the season due to injury and then crashing at Aragon earlier in April on his return to action. It is Sofuoglu’s first victory since his 2016 championship-clinching win at Jerez.
With Sofuoglu racing clear at the front an intriguing battle for second place raged on throughout the 18 lap contest, with Mahias, Cluzel, PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) all in the hunt.
Mahias ultimately triumphed in that fight for second but finished with a spectacular wheelie coming out of the final chicane and was almost caught by Cluzel on the line, the two Frenchman separated by just 0.005s.
A 1.5s margin behind them was American Jacobsen in fourth, with South African Morais finishing fifth and Italy’s Caricasulo sixth.
The top ten was completed by Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) and Rob Hartog (Team Hartog - Jenik - Against Cancer).
Dutchman Hartog was the top finisher of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup in tenth place, followed by Hannes Soomer (WILSport Racedays) in 13th and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in 18th.
The race results mean Mahias now leads the championship standings by 20 points from Morais, with Sofuoglu down in ninth place, trailing Mahias by 40 points after four races.
The WorldSSP riders will be back in action over the 12th-14th May weekend at the Motul Italian Round, hosted at Imola.
Race winner - Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
"I have won many times in my career but to come back this year after the season started very bad for me is fantastic. I had a lot of stress for me in personally, finally I am back in position one in the race which means I am more relaxed. I had zero championship points before and now I am just trying to win as much as possible, and it is fantastic to be back on top."
Sofuoglu Shows His Winning Style At Assen
Five-time FIM Supersport World Champions Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) gave a masterful display of front running from pole position to win the 18-lap WorldSSP race at Assen by over 2.5 seconds. Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) made a great start and looked set for a top five finish but as the laps counted down he dropped to 12th at the flag. Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) was a strong seventh.
Pushing from the start to make the most of his pole starting position Kenan Sofuoglu eased away from an ever-changing pack of pursuing riders and was never headed over the 18-lap race distance.
This was Kenan’s 39th race win in the WorldSSP category and the perfect way to come back after his recent bad luck at the start of the year. This was also the first Kawasaki race win of 2017 in WorldSSP and Kenan is the fourth different rider to have won a race so far.
For Ryde, the Assen race started well but as he had to put more effort into steering his machine with each passing lap - possibly due to a less than perfect front tyre choice for the conditions - he dropped from a potential top five placing to 12th.
Canducci had a consistent race and made it pay off with a seventh place, his second impressive race finish in a row after his fifth place at Motorland Aragon last time out.
In the overall championship Ryde is still top Kawasaki rider, in fifth place, Sofuoglu jumped to ninth with his first points of the year and Canducci is tenth.
Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “The season started really badly for me and there was a lot of stress in the race from inside me, not from somebody pushing me from outside. But finally this year I took a win in a race. So from now I can be more relaxed. I have zero idea about the championship and am going out to win as much as possible. This is the goal so another win in my career is very good. A big, big thanks to Kawasaki and my Puccetti team, because they have worked a lot to bring me back to P1 and now we are back there.”
Kyle Ryde, stated: “I got a good start but I was about the only person to use an SC2 front tyre. I thought it would be fine for the race distance. At the start I rode around a couple of people in the first lap and I thought that was it. I had put myself in the ballpark and thought I would hang with the group until the end of the race. But after four or five laps I was really struggled to get the bike to turn. I know I can be competitive now I just need the full set-up package and I know we will do it eventually. I need to have another first lap like I had today and be able to stay there to the end.”
Top ranked ESS rider was Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Jenik Against Cancer Kawasaki) tenth at his home round. Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) had a tough race to 17th and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 19th.
Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) were unfortunate to crash out of contention, while Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) retired in the pits.
Mahias Extends Championship Lead with Assen Thriller
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias extended his championship lead to 20 points after a thrilling race at the TT Circuit Assen, round four of the 2017 World Supersport Championship. The French rider secured second by just 0.005s in a photo finish in front of the packed grandstands after a race long battle with five riders. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was also involved in the scrap for the podium, riding through the pain to cross the line in sixth.
Mahias arrived in Assen with a slender five-point lead in the championship and, despite not having the easiest of weekends as he struggled to find the perfect setup, was delighted to secure his third podium of the season. The French rider got a lightning start from fourth on the grid, moving up to second by the first corner. Mahias then found himself in an excellent race long fight between five riders for second place, which saw bikes swapping places at nearly every corner. Struggling to find his usual consistency, he found himself down in fifth on lap 11, but still in the battle. With just two laps to go, the Frenchman passed his teammate for third and just a few corners later took second from Jules Cluzel. In a thrilling last lap, Mahias managed to hold off Cluzel in the final corners and crossed the line triumphantly pulling a wheelie on his Yamaha YZF-R6 to beat Cluzel to second place by just five-thousandths of a second. Championship leader Mahias (65pts) will now head to Imola in two weeks time confident to battle for the podium and stretch his points advantage further.
Caricasulo started the race from ninth on the grid, still recovering from the fractured collarbone he suffered at Aragon. The Italian made the most of a good start to find himself in fifth by the third lap and involved in the epic scrap for the podium. Battling throughout the race, despite the pain he was clearly in, he started the last lap in an excellent fourth place. He managed to hold onto this position until the last chicane, when his injury meant he couldn't quite get the bike stopped in time. He was disappointed to lose out on the sprint to the line, but still managed to secure an impressive sixth place. It was the Italian riders third point scoring finish of the season and sees him sixth in the championship standings with 35 points.
It was also a good weekend for Sheridan Morais on his Kallio Racing 2016 YZF-R6, with the South African crossing the line in fifth to add to his podium from Aragon, he now sits second in the championship with 45 points.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"It was a very good race and it was great to get my third podium in four races. It was a good result for the championship and I am happy. The race was very difficult because Kenan was very fast in Free Practice and in Qualifying. I tried at the start of the race to follow him, but this was very difficult. I lost three places at turn five when I ran wide and that made it difficult. I am not happy with my consistency during the race, normally it is one of my strong points. This is a good result for Yamaha and the championship because I go home with a 20-point lead in the standings. I am looking forward to Imola, where hopefully I can rediscover my consistency and fight for the win."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"My bike was really good today. The front tyre dropped a bit in the last four of five laps and also the problem was in the last three or four laps I could not control my bike because of my shoulder injury. This made it very difficult to ride, but I knew the importance of securing points. When I arrived at the last chicane I found it hard to brake and lost two places. Considering my injury I am happy with this result and I am looking forward to the next race in Imola, where my shoulder will have had more time to heal."
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP Team Manager
"The team did a fantastic job, on both sides of the garage! Today we knew Kenan had something more and that he would be hard to beat. Lucas had a fantastic race, he was very clever and was very happy with the bike! We were a bit scared when he pulled the wheelie over the line, because Jules was so close, but he is like that, a fantastic rider, but a little crazy in a fantastic way! Federico had an incredible race; beforehand we did not imagine he could be that fast with his injury. In the last few laps, the injury was a real problem and he was thinking about stopping as he was in so much pain. He simply didn't have any feeling by the last chicane, and had no chance of keeping fourth, so he was very happy with the result. In the end, it has been a great weekend and Lucas now has a 20-point lead in the championship, as well Federico gained ten points and is now sixth, so thanks to the team for all their efforts!"
Cluzel on the podium at Assen
Posted on 30th April 2017
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda’s Jules Cluzel celebrated his first podium finish of 2017 in today’s World Supersport race at Assen. The brilliant third place finish saw the Frenchman cross the line only 0.005s behind his compatriot Mahias who almost relinquished 2nd place to Jules with a premature wheelie celebration coming out of the final chicane.
Jules said: “I am happy with the race. The first lap was not so strong but I was able to come back and when I caught Mahias I just tried to pass him when he made a mistake and try to pull away so I could make a gap but this didn’t happen and he passed me again. I really tried hard to stay with him and to have a chance into the last lap but I couldn’t pass him on the last turn because it would have been a disaster, it wasn’t possible to be clean. I was really close and exiting fast when he made a wheelie. If the line had been 5m further I would have passed him so I am a bit angry. Passing someone with a mistake like that is not so great but it would mean four more points!.”
Hikari Okubo had a difficult weekend after he fell on oil in FP1 on Friday and had some pain from his sprained ankle in the race. When Watanabe crashed in front of him he lost 5 or 6 seconds running off the track and was unable to place higher than 21st. Teammate Robin Mulhauser also had a disappointing finish in 20th.
Hiromichi Kunikawa slid off at turn 1 when he clipped the kerb and retired from the race after 6 laps.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager, Simon Buckmaster said: “We are happy, it’s the first podium of the year for the team. It was a strong race from Jules. Not the best start but he fought hard and managed to make the break from the chasing pack. He was not quite close enough at the last chicane and just missed out on 2nd. After the disappointment of missing out on the wins in Australia and Thailand we’ve had a 4th, now a 3rd and are up to 7th in the Championship. We will continue our challenge for the World Championship. We’ll be looking to improve our bike and improve the clutch setting a bit for Jules for Imola and now we need to work more to try and win races.
Robin was disappointed with 20th. Assen is not his favourite circuit but you still need to work to make your results even at circuits you are not so happy with. We will put it behind us, go to Imola and continue our work as a team to fight for the points and get into the top ten.
Obviously Hikari was disappointed with 21st but he has two weeks for his ankle to recover and get stronger before Imola and we need to challenge again for him to be in the top ten and as high as possible in the points.
It was a shame for Hiromichi but the important thing for him is to do laps and learn the circuits. We will work to make him more at home on the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda and to improve at every race.”
STK1000 Victory For Toprak As Deroue Wins Again In WorldSSP300
A spectacularly successful raceday for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) saw him win his first STK1000 race of the year, and it was a first win in this division for the Ninja ZX-10RR.
The race was run over a shortened length of nine laps, after a multiple rider crash brought out the red flags to halt the action. With full points awarded for the restart Razgatlioglu took his maiden win, by just over a second, in the eighth STK1000 race of his career, to prove the potency of the latest Kawasaki offering at only the second round of the season.
Toprak, who qualified second for the race on Saturday, is now second overall in the championship, just seven points behind early leader Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
Jeremy Guarnoni (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) took fifth place at Assen ahead of a four-rider group that included sixth placed Ilya Mykhalchyk (Triple M Racing Kawasaki). Guarnoni is also fifth in the championship rankings, with Mykhalchyk sixth.
Marc Moser (Triple M Racing Kawasaki) scored the final point on offer at Assen for 15th place.
Toprak Razgatlioglu stated, “This was the first time I have won in STK1000, and it was also a first win for the latest Kawasaki, so I am really happy. We have done a good job this weekend and to win this early in the season was important for us.”
In the second round of the WorldSSP300 championship Dutch rider Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) took his Ninja 300 to not only a home win but also his second victory of the campaign.
With Jonathan Rea (KRT) winning both WorldSBK races at Assen, and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) victorious his first WorldSSP race of the year, Kawasaki riders made a clean sweep of race wins in all the major championship categories at this round – WorldSBK, WorldSSP, WorldSSP300 and STK1000.
Starting from the front row Scott was involved in a multi-rider fight right to the flag, but used his race craft and local knowledge to the full to win by just 0.113 seconds.
Scott Deroue, stated: “This did not start out as an easy event because I crashed in free practice one but I was determined to do well. At my home track I think we did a good job.”
Marino Maintains Podium Run in STK1000
PATA Yamaha Official STK1000 Team's Florian Marino made it two out of two podiums in 2017 as he claimed third at the TT Circuit Assen in a shortened nine-lap race on Sunday. His teammate Roberto Tamburini was involved in a multi-rider incident that led to the original race being red flagged, but managed to take to the grid for the re-start and secured a brave ninth place despite injuries sustained in the crash.
Marino, starting from pole, was quickest to react when the lights went out in the original race and led into the first corner. The Frenchman didn't look back and quickly opened up a 0.9s lead before the multi-rider incident at turn 17 at the end of the first lap that brought out the red flag. In the re-started nine-lap race he got bogged down off the line and had dropped to fifth after the first few corners. Undeterred, he calmly started to make his way back to the battle for the podium. First taking his teammate Tamburini for fourth, then just a lap later moving into third at the expense of local wildcard Danny De Boer. Less than a second behind the leader with just four laps to go, Marino tried his hardest to close the gap to the front, but to no avail. He crossed the line in a hard-fought third place, 2.4s behind eventual winner Toprat Razgatlioglu, taking his second podium of the 2017 season. The French rider is now third in the FIM Superstock 1000 European Championship standings with 38 points after two rounds, nine points behind leader Michael Rinaldi and in a strong position heading to round three in Imola.
Teammate Tamburini started from third on the grid in the original race, but after a poor start found himself down in seventh before he was involved in the incident at the Geert Timmer Bocht Chicane at the end of the first lap that brought out the red flag. The Italian suffered a neck injury, but was able to walk away and managed to get his Yamaha YZF-R1M back to the pits. It was then a race against time to get his damaged bike ready for the re-start. His team did an incredible job and he courageously took his place on the grid for the re-started race. The podium finisher last time out in Aragon enjoyed a much better start second time around and was involved in the battle at the front during the opening lap. He fought valiantly to hold off the riders behind him and despite not being able to do the lap times he was capable of, Tamburini took the chequered flag in ninth and collected seven vital championship points. He currently sits fourth in the standings with 23 points.
Following the race Tamburini went for a further medical checks for a suspected spinal cervical sprain, contusions and a fracture on the 5th cervical vertebra. A further medical update will follow.
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team
Today was a little disappointing, it was not the result I wanted. The season is long, so to be on the podium is good for the championship. In the re-started race I did not make a good start and riding behind the others for the first time this weekend I lost a bit of rhythm. I probably forgot to breathe a bit and I was not feeling as good as before. That was the best I could do and I cant be unhappy about that.
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team
My start in the first race was not so good. At the end of the first lap at the final chicane another rider made contact with me and I crashed. Thank you to my mechanics who managed to repair the bike very quickly. I had a much better start in the second race, but the feeling with the bike was not as good so I decided to just try and take as many championship points as possible. I hurt my neck in the crash so now it is complicated to see if I will ride in Imola.
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team Manager
"We enjoyed a good start to the weekend. We were fast during Free Practice and Qualifying and hoped for a better a result at the end in the race. A third place is still a good result for the championship, and Tamburini also managed a good result bearing in mind the damage to his bike after the crash. We know now that he sustained an injury which will require some recovery time, so we will have to make some decisions on the next races and wish him a very speedy recovery."
bLU cRU Record Historic First Podium at Assen
The Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, designed to nurture the best young talent and give them a clear career path into the FIM World Superbike Championship, started to pay fruition in just the second round of the WorldSSP300 championship as Alfonso Coppola recorded the projects first ever podium at Assen on Sunday.
In a frantic 12-lap race around the legendary TT Circuit Assen, the six Yamaha bLU cRU riders were all looking to improve their performance after a challenging first round at Aragon.
Coppola started from sixth on the grid and was involved in the battle for the race win as soon as the lights went out on his Yamaha R3. The 19-year-old Spaniard led the race on the second lap but could not shake the large chasing pack and at points found himself as far down as 11th as riders made use of the slipstream around the fast and flowing Assen circuit. As the race progressed the young Spaniard was amongst a group of five riders that managed to pull away from the rest of the field and in an incredible last few corners, made some aggressive moves to ensure he crossed the line in third to record the teams first ever podium in just their second race. Coppola was just 0.277s off the race winner and now sits third in the championship standings with 21 points.
Another bLU cRU rider to shine was 14-year-old Finn Kimi Patova. Qualifying in 28th, he had an uphill task ahead of him, but pulled off a brilliant race to finish in 11th and gain his first championship points (5 points) of the season. He now occupies 17th in the championship standings and will be looking to build on this result at the next round in Imola.
Renzo Ferreira also showed his fighting spirit, the 16-year-old starting the race from 30th on the grid, charged through the field to secure a creditable 18th place. The talented young Brazilian just missed out on the points, but will carry confidence from this performance into the next round.
Home rider Robert Schotman impressed during free practice and qualifying, setting the 11th fastest time in Superpole to start from the middle of the fourth row. The 18-year-old Dutch rider battled his way to the front of the pack, leading the race on lap 3, before unfortunately crashing out at turn 5 on the 7th lap battling for the race win.
Mykyta Kalinin qualified in an impressive fifth place and the former Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup rider was hopeful of scoring his first points in the championship. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the 19-year-old Ukrainian as he crashed out at turn 10 on the opening lap.
The 2016 Yamaha R3 Challenge Cup winner Enzo De La Vega was unlucky as he was forced to retire from the race with just 3 laps to go after qualifying in 31st.
All six riders will be back on track in Imola in just two weeks time for the third round of the 2017 FIM WorldSSP300 Championship.
"I am very happy for this result. It was a tough race with lots of hard battles throughout and I am happy with the third position. I now go to Imola looking to do even better! The bike is very good and I feel that Imola will suit the bike even more so I cant wait to get back on track."
Another Tough Weekend For Troy At Assen In WorldSSP300
It was another tough weekend for Team Toth's Troy Bezuidenhout at Assen yesterday, the 16 year old South African retiring for the second consecutive race in the 300cc World Supersport championship.
Despite the failure to finish Troy is taking the positives from the weekend which saw him qualify midfield, taking a big step forward in terms of closing the gap to the front.
Contesting the 300cc World Supersport championship wasn't the original plan for Bezuidenhout, his height making it almost impossible to be competitive on the smaller machines, but with the WorldSSP plan falling apart through no fault of his own just weeks before the season it's a miracle that he's on the grid at all.
The plan for Troy is to now complete the season with Team Toth before moving into Supersport next year but as ever racing at World Championship level is costly so anyone interested in supporting Troy financially for the remainder of the season should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking ahead, the team are planning some significant upgrades for Imola in a fortnight with Troy fully focused on his first World Championship points.
Troy Bezuidenhout - DNF: "This weekend is one I'd like to forget. In fact I am already looking ahead to Imola. As in Aragon I have had very little luck with another technical issue but that can happen in racing and the team and I continue to work hard and believe that better times are ahead. After improving in Superpole I was confident of a good race but I felt a problem on the warm up lap and it just got worse. I want to thank Team Toth for all their hard work and to all my sponsors and supporters who have stuck by me. Bring on Imola!"
Alex Pushes To Assen Top Ten In WorldSSP300 Thriller
17 year old Alex Murley continued his impressive start to the 300cc World Supersport championship finishing a superb 10th at the TT Circuit Assen to secure a second consecutive point scoring finish.
The Team Toth Yamaha rider once again had to overcome some small problems on Friday before pushing hard in Tissot Superpole to secure 14th on the grid.
A good start to the 12 lap race saw Alex gaining places before a 15 rider leading group swapped places so frequently each lap that even the TV graphics couldn't keep up. As the race settled down, the last two laps saw Alex scrapping hard for 9th, a position he just lost out on in the drag to the flag.
Yesterday's result which saw Alex become one of only a handful of riders to finish both of the opening races in the hotly contested series has surely given the #18 rider from Birmingham the confidence ahead of round 3 at the iconic Imola circuit in a fortnight.
Alex Murley - 10th: "I am really happy with the weekend. In some ways it was another challenging one as we lost some time on Friday just like we did in Aragon. The team worked brilliantly though to fix our little glitches and we were able to have solid FP2. Assen is a great track, it felt like a second British round with all the Union Jacks and British fans around the circuit. Made a huge set up change for Superpole which worked and I ended up 14th, just missing out on a Superpole 2 start after getting held up by people looking for tows. Without that we could have been even higher. The race was a hard battle due to being a little down on speed but nevertheless I kept on pushing and managed to get my first World Championship top ten after a big fight with Ruben Doorakkers. We are getting some upgrades for Imola as we decided to take it step by step in the opening two races so both me and the whole team can't wait to see what we can do there. It will be a nee track for me but Imre my team boss has a lot of experience there which will help. Big thanks to everyone who is supporting me, hope to see you all cheering at Donington Park in a few weeks."
For more information visit: www.alexmurleyracing.com
Second place for the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team at Assen with Rinaldi; a racing accident takes Jones out
The Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team stepped on the podium at Assen (Netherlands), home of the second round of the 2017 European Superstock 1000 Championship, thanks to Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s second-place finish. Mike Jones, on the other hand, was involved in a racing accident that prompted the marshals to waive the red flags, luckily without facing serious injuries.
Rinaldi, already victorious at Aragon, got off a strong start from seventh place on the grid, climbing back to third before the race was interrupted. At the restart, while Jones was taken to the medical center for a check-up, Rinaldi was once again quick off the blocks and engaged a thrilling duel with Razgatlioglu but eventually opted not to take too many risks and closed in second position, a result that consolidates his championship lead.
After two rounds, Rinaldi leads in the championship with 45 points while Jones is 13th (7 points). The Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action at Imola (Italy) for the third round of the European Superstock 1000 Championship, scheduled for May 12-14.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #12)
“I got off a strong start and honestly I thought I could pull away, but we weren’t at our 100 percent so I preferred to stay calm and defend the second place in the race because it’s an important result for the championship. We’ll try to do better at Imola, which is our home round and represents both a source of motivation and an extra responsibility.”
Mike Jones (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #57)
“It’s a pity we were involved in the crash. It was a scary accident, but luckily I only have some pain in the wrist and the shoulder, and nothing is broken. I’m still satisfied with the progress we made with the whole crew throughout the weekend, and I’m confident we can bounce back at Imola, a really important round for the whole team.”
Piero Guidi, Team Manager
“We’re really happy for the result achieved by Michael, who showed great maturity by taking home very important points for the championship, increasing his advantage at the top. On the other hand, we’re sorry for what happened to Mike, who was involved without fault in a scary accident. Luckily he is OK, and we’ll be ready to have another go at it at Imola with both our riders. We also want to give our best wishes to Fritz for a speedy recovery.”