2018 Superbike World Championship Round 4 - Superpole and Race 1:
Under sunny skies KRT rider Jonathan Rea won his 12thWorldSBK race at the classic Assen circuit today, extending his championship lead and closing in on the all-time win total by taking his 57th career victory. Tom Sykes (KRT) showed fully competitive lap speed in the race but despite closing in on the leading group, he finished just off the podium in fourth place.
In uncharacteristically warm and dry conditions, which blessed both opening days of the Assen WorldSBK weekend, Jonathan Rea showed his affinity with the historic Assen circuit by leading across the line for all but two laps. He was to win the race by an eventual 0.981 seconds from local man Michael van der Mark, who led for two laps.
Jonathan’s third race victory of the year came after some good work in practice and qualifying, and being able to improve the pace in warm conditions, making a gap that he could control in the final few laps of the 4.542km long circuit.
Rea’s win was his third of the season and takes him to within two victories of the outright record of 59, held by family friend Carl Fogarty. This was Jonathan’s 75th race win for Kawasaki. He is now the second rider, in his own right, in terms of career podiums, with 117.
Just 1.413 seconds from the race one win Tom Sykes just needed a better first few laps to have joined in with the podium celebrations, after offering a consistently strong pace on his Ninja ZX-10RR.
Having started the race sixth after Superpole qualifying, then going to seventh place for eight laps, Tom was able to pass some of his main rivals to get up to fourth and score valuable points in the process.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I enjoyed that race. I had two or three small attempts to break the group but it just wasn’t happening. I preferred to be at the front of the race anyway, to manage things in the places I was strong. I knocked back a little bit in case I was not able to make a gap in the last laps. I think with four to go I started to make a couple of strong lap times and that just broke the gap to the others. I was quite lucky because on the last lap I made a little mistake at T8 but by that stage I had already made the gap. I was super-happy because we arrived here with the bike that was quite strong at the start. With consistent weather on Friday I was able to do two race simulations to understand how the tyres would be at the end today.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Fourth in the race was a case of having to start a bit behind today, as the race set-up we had was good. The speed was pretty good. We possibly missed out a little bit on initial lap times, but our bike stayed very consistent. In the end we had race winning levels of performance but I just got stuck behind Chaz, who rides differently to some of the other guys I passed earlier. Alex, Marco and Xavi, those guys I could make passes on but Chaz was on a different line and to get him – I wasn’t able to do it today. He can stop better and the acceleration of his bike is very strong. We lost out there but in some of the flowing stuff we had a big advantage. Tomorrow we will just try and take advantage of what will be pole position on the race two grid.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Round 4 - Race 2:
After a start-to-finish win from pole position Tom Sykes (KRT) secured his first WorldSBK race victory since Misano in 2017 in emphatic fashion, heading up a KRT 1-2. Championship leader Jonathan Rea (KRT) finished a strong second today, despite launching from the third row of the grid after winning the first Assen race on Saturday.
Securing what his first but Kawasaki’s fourth WorldSBK race victory of the year, 2013 world champion Sykes got back to his very best today, running clear of his early rivals and maintaining a remarkably consistent high pace throughout. He started from pole on Sunday as he had finished fourth on day one, and made the very best of his opportunity.
After a trademark front-running Sykes win Tom enjoyed a final margin of victory of 5.445 seconds and his second podium finish of the 2018 season.
Rea was fourth after one lap, then third after four laps, before taking second place on lap six. By that stage Sykes had already opened up a gap of 3.5 seconds, which grew as Jonathan had to defend his position at one stage.
Maintaining his own high pace, Rea had to fight off the attentions of eventual third place finisher Michael van der Mark in the middle of the 21-lap race. Jonathan reasserted himself to keep his rival two seconds behind at the flag and secure his sixth podium in eight races.
After showing real Ninja spirit all through a gloriously warm and sunny race weekend in the Netherlands, Rea leaves with an extended championship lead and Tom has propelled himself up to fifth in the championship, just two points behind fourth place.
Rea now has 159 points, Davies 129, Melandri 115, van der Mark 103 and Sykes 101.
The next round will be held at Imola in Italy with racedays on 12th and 13th May.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The Ninja ZX-10RR today was great on a clear track. I was disappointed with yesterday’s race, for a number a reasons. But what can I say about the win today? Big thanks to my family, friends and ultimately the crew. I have not had an easy time in the last 18 months or so, but the good thing is that Marcel is not just my crew chief, but also such an amazing friend. He has helped me and gently reminded me of where we have come from in the past, and how we got to where we are now. I knew that the results have not justified the efforts we have put in until now. I also knew last night that a little bit of magic and the Sykes’ spark was there. I think there is no doubt in my speed and today we converted that into all 21 laps. I am very, very happy for this and it was quite emotional to win today.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “My track position did not help in the beginning. I wasted a lot of tyre life and energy coming from ninth. When I had free track I could see that the gap remained constant. I also ran into some issues with vibration, backing in and the bike becoming a bit unstable. I managed my own race then and totally accepted that today was not going to be my day. Tom was stronger but my race was compromised by my ninth place start. You cannot give a guy like Tom pole position after his pace yesterday. Kudos to him and his team they did a great job, and I can take my points and march on to Imola pretty happy. I have a 30-point lead. It was target achieved at this round and I am feeling better with the bike each week.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 4:
- JONATHAN REA 159 KAWASAKI
- CHAZ DAVIES 129 DUCATI
- MARCO MELANDRI 115 DUCATI
- MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 103 YAMAHA
- TOM SYKES 101 KAWASAKI
- XAVI FORES 100 DUCATI
- ALEX LOWES 76 YAMAHA
- TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU 45 KAWASAKI
- LORIS BAZ 44 BMW
- LEON CAMIER 42 HONDA
- JORDI TORRES 39 MV AGUSTA
- ROMÁN RAMOS 28 KAWASAKI
- LORENZO SAVADORI 25 APRILIA
- LEANDRO MERCADO 24 KAWASAKI
- MICHAEL RUBEN RINALDI 21 DUCATI
- JAKE GAGNE 17 HONDA
- EUGENE LAVERTY 16 APRILIA
- PJ JACOBSEN 15 HONDA
- DAVIDE GIUGLIANO 11 APRILIA
- YONNY HERNANDEZ 7 KAWASAKI
- ONDREJ JEZEK 2 YAMAHA