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Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Assen, The Netherlands
Posted by: newsla on Apr 23, 2014 - 06:20 AM
Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Assen, The Netherlands

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) will be looking for more podium success at the third round of the FIM Superbike World Championship after his top three finish in race one at the previous round in Spain. For Rea and his team-mate Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) Assen is a round of special significance as Dutch company Ten Kate is in charge of their racing operations and its headquarters are situated not far from the famous TT Circuit.


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The 4.542km long Assen circuit is also an integral part of Rea's WSBK racing DNA, as the Isle of Man-based Northern Irishman has taken four of 11 career wins there, the most recent in 2012. Jonathan has enjoyed six podium finishes in all at the historic Circuit van Drenthe and also secured one of his three Superpole qualifying successes there.

Jonathan arrives in Assen in good shape having scored a podium this year already, in race one at Motorland Aragon only just over a week ago. After two rounds and four points scoring races Rea is fifth overall in the championship standings with 48 points, just 16 off a top three slot.

A no score at the very first race of the year was a tough start for Leon Haslam but consistent points scores from then on have placed Leon ninth in the rankings as Assen approaches. So far Leon's season best is sixth in race two at Phillip Island on the opening weekend and his immediate aim is to improve on this mark, ideally with a top three finish. Haslam has scored podium finishes three times at Assen but a lower left leg injury effectively spoiled his 2013 season after a nasty fall at the Dutch track last year.

There will be a wildcard Honda rider competing in the Superbike EVO class at Assen as Kervin Bos (Winteb LiquidRubber Racing Team Honda) joins the 27-strong field of WSBK regulars on his CBR1000RR this coming weekend.

Assen is a unique circuit with a special place in the hearts of both fans and riders. In its previous 6.027km layout the circuit was nick-named the 'Cathedral' by all, given the reverence in which it was held by the motorcycle racing world in general, above all by riders contesting the world championship races at the circuit, it has always been a real test of riders' skill and nerve. Laden with heavily cambered and multiple fast corners, even after the loss of the long North Loop section, Assen offers some one-off challenges and opportunities to all riders in all classes.

The Assen circuit has been used for 44 individual WSBK races, with the first round held there in 1992 before becoming a fixture on the calendar every year since then. Honda riders have scored 14 race wins at Assen over the years.

After the Dutch round the championship heads to southern Europe again for the fourth round of the series, at the city-centre venue of Imola, with raceday on Sunday 11th May. There will be a one-day official test immediately after that event as private in-season testing has been banned for the 2014 season.


The third round of the FIM Supersport World Championship will be a home round for Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) as he goes for his first career race win in this intensely competitive class of racing.

With both Michael and his team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) racing at their Ten Kate team's home venue this weekend there can be no better place for either rider to lift their performances to new heights early in the 12-round WSS season.

Van Der Mark was second last time out in Spain, equalling his career best race finish as he moved up to sixth in the overall championship standings. Zanetti is now eighth overall after his fourth in the previous round at Motorland Aragon, while still recovering from a painful finger injury. Fully fit he will be a force to contend with in only his second full WSS season.

Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) is the highest placed Honda rider in the championship so far, third overall after a third place in Australia and sixth in Motorland Aragon. Not even a full-time rider at the start of the first round, his performances have given him his deserved full season chance as part of the strong PTR Honda squad, run from the UK.

The cosmopolitan Honda entry in the 2014 WSS class sees the Italian Lorini team field two home grown riders in Riccardo Russo (currently 14th after a no score in Motorland) and Marco Bussolotti, who just missed points at the previous race in Spain.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) from Thailand has now taken his first WSS top ten as he learns the possibilities and limitations of racing in a production-derived class at world championship level. He is 16th overall, with 2013 season find Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) recovering from a nasty ankle break at the first round in Phillip Island, just one place behind in 17th place.

Young Spanish rider Nacho Calero (CIA Insurance Honda) scored points in Phillip Island and wants more this weekend to get higher in the rankings than his current top-20 position. British rider Fraser Rogers (Com Plus SMS Racing) has already posted 15th at the opening round in his first full WSS year.

The FIM Supersport World Championship class will join the WSBK and Superstock riders at the next round in Imola, to be held between 9th and 11th May.


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"I'm really looking forward to riding at Assen this weekend because it's a circuit that I really enjoy. There are lots of passing places and there's usually a fast group at the front, which I hope to be a part of. I've spent quite a bit of time there with my team over the years, and done quite a few laps developing the bike, so I hope we can get it dialled in quite quickly this weekend. Of course, a lot of that will depend on the weather because, although we're at the end of April, it can still be unpredictable, so we'll have to work on both wet and dry settings so we can aim for two good results. We've had a solid start to the season, with top five finishes and a podium at Aragon, so we'll try to carry that momentum into the Assen weekend. There's always a fantastic atmosphere there as it's the team's home race and we had another amazing Pitstop Day at the workshop last Saturday with a record crowd. It's a perfect way to set up for the weekend."

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"I have had a few good days in the Netherlands and we have been at the annual Ten Kate Pitstop Day recently. At the previous round in Aragon we had everything working well but after my crash in Superpole we had a few issues on raceday because of that. As Johnny proved the bike did work well enough to get a top three in the race so it was more than capable in a race situation. I am happy that the bike has definitely moved forward after the testing we did in Cartagena and Jerez. We still have a few issues to look at and overcome but for me we are now moving into the proper part of the season. At Assen, Imola and Donington the bike is definitely capable of running at the front. I feel I am getting back to how I should be after injury last year and with Assen being the home round for the team I just want to get my season kicked off properly. I have had podiums at Assen and scored two podiums on a private Honda there in 2009. Almost every time I have finished a race at Assen I have been battling for a podium. It is a good track that I definitely enjoy. We just need to get some dry weather, hopefully."

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"It is always busy in the build up to a home race as many friends and sponsors will come along. There has been more media interest this year and we had a half hour TV programme on last week, which included the Superbike team and me. I think this weekend more journalists will also come than usual. I am racing at my home track in Assen and I think everybody's dream is to win a home race. Last time out at Aragon was good and we rode at the front. We showed we can be the fastest, and we also showed that in the first round at Phillip Island for a time. I hope we can fight for the podium at Assen and I will be giving it all to win. I came from sixteenth place to have a good finish at Assen last year, just off the podium, but I hope this year I do not have to fight as hard!"

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"Assen is a special race because it is my second home race. It is my team's home round so there is always a lot of pressure there but that is also OK because I like to ride with pressure. Assen is a very special track but last year I did not finish so well, I think in tenth place, but this year I have more confidence on the bike and the team has worked hard all winter. We had a good result in Aragon and I want to fight for a good position all weekend in Assen and go for a podium. My finger injury has not yet had time to come back to 100% and in Aragon it was painful when I was riding the bike. The season is very competitive and there are many riders and bikes in it this year, which is good for the spectators. Also for us, because when you are fighting with a lot of riders it is exciting."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda)
"After the Aragon race I felt good with the bike because we worked hard in all the sessions. I understand more about how the tyres work but we still need to find more on rear grip. Assen is one of my favourite tracks. I like it and it seems to suit my riding style because I enjoy riding on the fast corners. In 2010 I had a good race here in the Moto2 class. I hope to get good result this weekend but we need to work harder, even more than we did at the Aragon race."

Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda)
"It hasn't been the ideal start to the season but the ankle I injured in Australia is improving with every day and I do like Assen as a circuit. I expect there will also be a big UK contingent over to support so will take strength from that as well. My CIA Insurance Honda is strong as Raffaele is showing, so I am looking forward to a good result."

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