Round 4 - Race 1 (Saturday 16th April 2016)
Rea had started well from his second row qualifying position after finishing the Superpole contest just one place from a front row start. With significant changes to his machine’s set-up for the dry first race, after a fully wet Friday in qualifying, Rea put himself in position to win on raceday. He found challenges to his eventual lead from all directions, as five riders formed a breakaway group from the start, in a race where the lead changed hands several times.
Tom also had good pace despite both Friday practice sessions being fully wet and was looking to score heavily once again. After missing a downshift shortly after being passed into the final sector of the track he fell, after running out onto the dirty part of the circuit while braking heavily.
In Superpole qualifying, held shortly before race one, Sykes had taken his third pole of the year on the new model Ninja ZX-10R, and the 33rd of his WorldSBK career. Rea had qualified fourth.
In giving the 2016 model Ninja ZX-10R its race one win, Rea extended his championship lead to 31 points, from second place Assen race finisher Chaz Davies.
JONATHAN REA (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team): “It was great to win another Assen race. Our bike set-up was new because we changed the bike just for the race after warm-up. I put my head down with a few laps to go. It is really hard to lead but I was so-so happy because I feel we have been a bit on the back foot now since Aragon and before so to score 25 points here is great. I think the potential of this bike is huge but I have yet to get it into a really good window I am comfortable with. This race has given us a lot of information and to score 25 points when it really matters is incredible for me, for my strength inside, and for my championship. I want to thank all the Dutch fans because they give me a great reception every time we come here and thanks to my team for their hard work and keeping my spirits up. After Aragon I felt we were a bit deep in the sea and now I feel our heads are above water”
TOM SYKES (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team): “It was windy out there but I was able to enjoy some great speed in some areas of the track. On one corner I was missing some confidence and unfortunately that was on the run back to the pits. That was slowing me up into where I was good in the next part of the track. It was a difficult race like that but I was just getting settled down and really understanding where everyone was good. I was not necessarily thinking about the pass into the final chicane but unfortunately when I braked and went to backshift, I missed the initial backshift, which meant the engine was quite free. I just tried to get it stopped and get the gear selected. Any other day I would have been OK but unfortunately because we have had some bad track conditions it was really, really dirty and I lost the front. That was a small mistake on my behalf but it was unfortunate that we had such a dirty track off line. That is the way racing goes and there are positives to take from it as we were strong in some areas.”
Round 4 - Race 2 (Saturday 17th April 2016)
The second 21-lap Assen race provided a double win for Jonathan Rea (KRT), with his team-mate Tom Sykessecond this time out, as both riders continue to find success on the new model Ninja ZX-10R. The Sunday race was started in wet conditions but rapidly dried out, meaning all the riders pitted to change tyres at some stage.
Once again Rea proved to have the magic touch at Assen, winning his second race of the weekend, his 9th race in total at the Dutch track and his fifth race victory of the season in eight attempts. He now has a career total of 34 WorldSBK race wins, placing him a clear fourth in the all time race winners’ rankings.
At the start of the race, in fully wet track conditions, Sykes took the lead from his pole position grid placing. The changing weather and drying track surface saw him drop back and soon pit to change tyres but in the heat of the tyre change process he went out on intermediate tyres, not the front intermediate/rear slick he intended to use.
When Rea, who was one of six riders to lead the race at some stage as the competitors entered and left the pits at will, stopped for dry weather tyres he returned to the fray at strong pace, after finding the grip level for a lap. He and his team-mate Sykes, who had pitted for new rubber first, finally competed for the race win in the final laps.
Rea ran out the winner by 2.442 seconds, extending his championship lead in the process with his second double win of 2016.
Sykes’ intermediate rear tyre had an effect on the outcome of his race but in finishing second, after a day one crash and no score, the 2013 world champion recovered in great style and scored 20 highly valuable championship points.
In the overall championship table Rea leads by 45 points, from today’s race two fifth place rider Chaz Davies. Sykes is third overall, now 32 points ahead of the fourth place rider. Kawasaki leads the Manufacturers’ Standings by 44 points with the new model Ninja ZX-10R.
JONATHAN REA (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team): “Our target this weekend was to increase our championship lead and we did that. I said to Pere my crew chief before the start of the race that the track should dry out pretty fast. We have had previous experiences like that. I have no idea why I go so well at Assen. It is nothing to do with the track itself. We got a double victory but it was not like Australia where I had more pace than the rest. We controlled the situations this weekend when we had to, we were calm and clever when we had to be, and as a team our strength shone through to get two strong results. We got the maximum from what we could achieve here so I am super, super, happy with that. Our stars aligned this weekend and it worked out, so I am just happy”
TOM SYKES (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team): “At the start of the race I just wasn’t able to get the lean angle and the power down using the wet tyres, because of the mixed conditions, so I came into pitlane early. I went for the intermediate front and we managed that front tyre well. With the mistake made for the intermediate rear, that cost is. Even considering this, our pace was very strong and second position is not too bad. Yesterday we were in the gravel and today finishing in second place is a good result. We have had strong pace all weekend, in the wet and the dry, and in warm-up we found a good rhythm this morning. It has just been one of those weekends where the results do not fit what we deserve - but that is racing. Now we can focus on the next round and build on the bike set-up that we have been working on.”
The Italian circuit of Imola will host the fifth round of the championship, with track action starting on 29 April and ending on 1 May.
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 4:
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