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Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Assen, Netherlands
Posted by: newsla on Apr 23, 2013 - 05:25 PM
Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Assen, Netherlands

British riders, Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) will fly the flag for their Dutch-based squad at the forthcoming Assen round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship on Sunday 28th April.


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In the past Rea has flown his personal standard highest of all at Assen, winning on four occasions for his current team, an impressive ratio given his career SBK race win total currently stands at ten. So far his 2013 season has yet to deliver a podium but he was a fighting fourth in one of the two races at the most recent round in Motorland Aragon coming home only a few seconds behind the outright race winner.

Leon Haslam is also no stranger to the Assen podium on a CBR1000RR as well. During a privateer Stiggy Honda year in 2009 he posted a third and a second place finish, before scoring another podium on another make of machine only one year later at the classic Dutch circuit.

So far in 2013 Rea has the best individual race finish for the Pata Honda World Superbike outfit as his team continues to learn the intricacies of their all-new electronics package. Now heading in the right direction of development the team anticipates seeing some real improvements at what used to be their designated test track until this year, their home venue of Assen.

The venerable Circuit van Drenthe itself has been the subject of an almost never-ending series of modernisations since it was first used as a racing venue many decades ago. The current 4.542km version features a very slow first section which leads onto the more traditional cambered areas and some fast flowing corners which still give it a unique feel in contemporary motorcycle racing. It remains one of the few circuits shared by both SBK and MotoGP series.

In the SBK championship standings after four of a planned 30 individual points scoring races Jonathan is ninth overall on 30 points, with Leon only one place and a single point behind in tenth.

After the travelling caravan of Superbike teams clears the Dutch border it will head south to Italy, to reform at Monza for the fourth round of the championship on 12 May.


FIM Supersport World Championship duo Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) and Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) each have very different emotions entering the third round of the championship but each rookie rider shares a goal in wanting to put on a good show in front of the enthusiastic Dutch race fans.

Since he arrived in WSS full time at the start of this year, 20-year-old Dutch rider van Der Mark has scored a podium each time out, opening with a third place in Australia followed by a runner-up spot in Motorland Aragon. He now sits second in the points, only two behind Fabien Foret. As a local rider Van Der Mark knows Assen intimately, if not yet on his full WSS spec machine. Given his rate of progress and the strong team backup he enjoys, he is intent on being up with the leaders from the outset on his CBR600RR.

Zanetti is also a rookie in 2013 in this class. He has also proved his worth early on, with an eighth in Australia and a sixth place finish in Spain to his credit, each of which were improvements on his qualifying positions of tenth and eighth respectively. His hopes at Assen are for a top five finish and to try to move up from his present ranking of seventh overall.

As the championship table illustrates, lack of full-on WSS experience has not held back the most effective Honda riders so far in 2013. Another rookie, Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) is now eighth overall, early in his first season. Unusually for a rider in his first full international season, he has raced at Assen before, when running in the British Supersport Championship last year, albeit not on a Honda.

Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) has scored points in each race so far and sits 12th in the championship itself with his compatriot Alex Baldolini (Team Lorini Honda) 15th in the rankings. Bad luck for other riders in Honda squads has visited them more than once, so Assen may well be the turning point in an upward direction for some big names in this category of racing.

Former 125cc GP Champion Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) was injured in Australia and knocked off last time out so therefore has no points in the overall standings. He is more than happy to go back to Assen, scene of two of his 125cc GP victories, as it is one of his most favoured circuits, not forgetting it is the place where his PRORACE Honda team won the WSS race in the wet last year with Lorenzo Lanzi, a one-off ride for the Italian.

Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) is a potential race-winning rider who has also had terrible luck so far with a technical issue in the first round and then being knocked off in Spain last time. He is now more than keen to show what he can do on the potent PTR Honda if he is allowed a clear run by the fates at the Assen race.

Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda), Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda), David Linortner (Team Honda PTR), Eduard Blokhin (Rivamoto Honda) and younger riders Matt Davies (Team Honda PTR) and Nacho Calero Perez (Honda PTR) are all looking for their first points of the 2013 season this weekend.

After Assen the WSS hordes – 35 permanent riders in 2013 and counting – head to Monza in Italy for the fourth round on May 12th.


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“At Assen we will have a little bit more knowledge in electronics. We made some steps forward and the guys understand the system better. It is a bit strange because the bike feels completely different from last year so I am not sure how it will translate to Assen. Last year’s bike worked great there and it is a track I enjoy. We are going in there at their home circuit definitely a bit more optimistic than we were at Aragon. We have done a lot of testing at Assen in the past so we know what works on the bike, what kind of tyres work in different temperatures, so our knowledge is good there. This is the first year that we have not tested at Assen for a while so I hope the bike feels similar to years before when we have always been there or thereabouts. We can set our target at Assen slightly higher than we did at Motorland, where I got a fourth place in one of the races.”

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“Last time I rode a Honda in SBK at Assen a few years ago I got a third and a second, in the era of Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga, so there are some good memories of riding there for me. Even when I was on a different bike in 2010, and since then, I have had some good rides at Assen. We have some issues we need to overcome but the boys have been working hard to overcome them. At Assen they have done a lot of testing on the CBR1000RR in the past so they know what works and what does not around there. Hopefully this time around it will be more a case of me getting up to speed quickly rather than getting the bike settings up to speed.”

Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
“It is always special to do your home race especially after two really good opening results. I am hoping to have another one in Assen. The team and I know the track very well and I think to be realistic we can go for a top five because it is my first year. But we are in a good position now and I think we can do maybe a little bit more if it is possible. The riders in this class are so good that maybe you can have a little early advantage as it is your home track but to be honest after one practice everybody is at the same speed. Maybe there are some little things that you know from your own track but I do not think we have a big advantage.”

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
“I want to race at Assen after the Aragon weekend, which was a very positive one. We worked well there; all the team did. Assen is a home circuit for the team and this gives us another reason to try to make a good result. Assen is not really my favourite track, especially the new part because it is too slow for my style, but I think it is not a problem. The team gives me a bike in perfect condition and I want to fight for the top five this time. I think this is realistic.”

Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda)
“I am in a positive mindset going into Assen because I know the track well from my time riding there last year. I am looking forward to riding the Honda at Assen and the traction control should really help compared to last year as well because you are so much on the side of the tyre at Assen. It is a really fast place and I enjoy riding the track, so I love it. We are maybe a little bit on the same level as most people going in there now, which is a lot better for me. I just need to get used to the Honda round there, that’s all. So far WSS is going as well as I hoped and I am moving in the right direction, which is what I like to do. We are chipping away, little bits and little bits. The most important thing for me is to finish races as well. Come the end of the year points are important.”

Luca Marconi (PTR Honda)
“I don't know if it will rain or not, maybe it is likely at Assen. If it rains then I think it is possible to get into the top five because I like racing in the rain so much. If dry then my target is the same as Aragon, and the top 10 is possible. I am very happy for the job of the PTR team, it is a big difference compared to my last two years and I am enjoying good results.”

Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda)
“I am looking forward now but I have some great, great memories from the past at Assen, because I won GP races at both the old track layout and the new one. I am not in my best physical form because of an accident in Australia and then a fall in Motorland, so I have not been able to prepare my physical conditioning as well as I want, but it is now not too bad. My mind is OK and this is important! I am motivated, my team is good, I like racing and I like the Superbike paddock atmosphere. I will push very hard in Assen.”

Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda)
"I am looking forward to Assen and getting our first finish of the season. The Aragon race went well in qualifying so I need that kind of performance again this weekend then to have a good race to make it count. I like the circuit at Assen and now we can just hope to have good weather."

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