Home heroes and history makers: Assen Awaits2018-04-20 08:31
There’s magic in the air as WorldSBK heads to The Netherlands
Straight off the back of MotorLand Aragon, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to the iconic TT Circuit Assen for the fourth round of the season, with no time to rest. As the European season is well and truly underway in 2018, 18 points split the top three in the standings and for the first time in history three riders have two wins each after the first three race weekends. There will be plenty out with a point to prove in The Netherlands; Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will look at continuing his string of seven consecutive victories around Assen, whilst Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) searches home glory.
Undeniably a favorite circuit of our three time world Champion, TT Circuit Assen has been a happy hunting ground for Jonathan Rea in recent years. Taking seven consecutive wins, and 11 overall, the British rider is the man to beat around the 4.5km track. Continuing to work on the set-up of his ZX-10RR alongside the new regulations, the 31 year old has faced some tough challenges in the opening rounds but continues to lead the world championship standings by 12 points. Winning two out of the opening six races so far, Rea will be hoping to take his first double of the season.
Sitting in second position of the world championship standings, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took home the same amount of points as Rea last time out, as well as taking his seventh victory around MotorLand. With 12 race starts around ‘The Cathedral’, Davies has taken four podiums, all of which came with Ducati. Suffering some bad luck in Saturday’s race one here last season, the British rider has the pace here and will be coming with added confidence from MotorLand.
Top independent rider Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) continues to impress onboard his Panigale, as the Spanish rider sits in fourth position overall in the standings. Following some stunning performances throughout the opening rounds which has seen Fores secure his best result in the series, with a second position in Thailand’s race one. Fighting for the lead on more than one occasion, he now heads to Assen which has been a tough track for him in the past. Fourth position in race one last year has been his best result, however with a new confidence and fast pace, he will be hard to rule out.
The man all the crowd will want a piece of this weekend, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) heads to his home circuit full of determination to take the victory. Coming close in his six appearances so far, it has been all or nothing for the 26 year old as he’s taken three third positions and two DNF’s. Building his confidence with the YZF-R1 throughout 2018, and coming off the back of a podium in Thailand, van der Mark will be hoping to replicate his WorldSSP victory here in 2014.
Making his WorldSBK debut around TT Circuit Assen, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) is preparing for another challenging weekend as he continues to learn to his Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2 machine. Not yet breaking into the top 10 in 2018, the American rider will be hoping the popular TT Circuit Assen will be one which sees him make the break into the top ten. Heading to his team’s home circuit, Gagne has experience around the circuit from his time in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, which will no doubt put him in a strong position heading into the weekend.
Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) will once again be joined by Davide Giugliano this weekend as Eugene Laverty remains sidelined with injury. The Italian has a strong history around the Dutch circuit, taking three top six finishes in his WorldSBK appearances so far. Continuing to bounce back from his injury sustained in Australia, the Italian will be hoping to make up some good points from these back to back races. Not forgetting his strong history here in the STK1000 championship, Savadori will be hoping to make another step with the Aprilia this weekend.
As he continues on his journey on the return to WorldSBK, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) heads back to the iconic circuit which holds a lot of history for the Frenchman. Taking a podium here in 2013 with Kawasaki in WorldSBK, he also took his best 2017 MotoGP™ result here with a top eight finish. Taking points from every race so far in 2018, he will be hoping to become a more regular top ten finisher as the season well and truly gets underway.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s lone rider Jordi Torres took stock from a solid race two around MotorLand Aragon, as the Spanish rider is searching for a stronger pace with his new team. Involved in two big crashes at both Buriram and MotorLand, it has been a tough start to the season for Torres but he remains positive and looks ahead to a circuit which has treated him well in the past – taking four top seven finishes since 2015 here.
On track action in the MOTUL Dutch round begins on Friday 20th April, with WorldSBK FP1 at 09:45LT. Racing action gets underway at 13:00LT on Saturday ahead of lights out on Sunday at 13:00LT.
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