Rea and Checa Score Wins at Assen as WSBK Series Heats Up

ASSEN, NETHERLANDS—Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa scored a win apiece at Assen today, in races held in dry and occasionally sunny conditions at this classic Dutch track. Rea was particularly happy to see his first victory arrive at his team's home circuit, after some tough times early in the season.

It is Checa, however, who can leave with the greatest satisfaction as he now has a clear points lead over Max Biaggi, 132 - 89. Max, the reigning champion, recovered from all his dramas at Donington last month with two assured second place finishes today and he got the reward of second in the championship overall with his home race of Monza next up. Donington race winner Marco Melandri just missed out on a podium finish in race one at Assen but fell in race two and is now in third place overall and is four points behind Biaggi. Rea is now fourth with 79 points as he and Checa swapped wins and third-places with Checa taking the final spot in race one and Rea third in race two.

Leon Haslam had two hard fights on his hands today, but he scored good points in race two for fifth place, the same position he holds in the championship fight with his new total of 68 points. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) set the fastest lap in race two to help him take fourth - he is now sixth in the championship.

“Assen is a fantastically flowing circuit with smooth asphalt for which Pirelli made available 4 front and 4 rear Diablo Superbike tires to the SBK class, including both Soft and Medium options for cold and warmer conditions,” said Pirelli Moto Racing Director Giorgio Barbier. “The overall allotment of 4,604 tires included those to support the first round of the STK classes.

“The focuses at Assen were durability and stability rather than pure performance, offered through an increased mechanical grip that requires slightly more setup time,” Pirelli’s Barbier continued. “Throughout practice and qualifying, it never exceeded 68°F on the asphalt whilst on race day we saw nearly 86°F, making tire choice very critical.”

Race 1
Rea overcame the early battles at Assen to record his and Honda's first win of the 2011 season, beating Biaggi by 0.7 seconds and championship leader Checa by 3.5 seconds in race one. Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike) overcame a slow start to claw his way back to fourth, just ahead of Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare). With Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) behind Fabrizio there were six different machines inside the top six places. Top Kawasaki runner was Mark Aitchison (Pedercini Team Kawasaki) in tenth. Leon Haslam, Corser's team-mate, survived a fast early crash to recover to a top-12 finish. Race one saw many falls and retirements, and only 14 riders finished the race, but in race two only two riders failed to finish.

In the first race, Sykes (Kawasaki), Xaus (Honda) and Guintoli (Ducati) opted for the Soft (A) rear tire with bike setup finding trouble managing tire wear, compared to Fabrizio’s (Suzuki), whose team’s bike setup was focused on the Soft and brought home a 5th and 7th place. Rea (Honda) had a great performance on the Soft (SC1) front and Medium rear at his team’s home track, adding to his double-win here last year.

“First and foremost I’m proud to give Castrol Honda their first podium in the world championship this year,” said Race 1 winner Jonathan Rea. “My crew worked really hard all weekend and we really made the right decision to develop a specific bike for the race because it paid off. I lead from the start, (and) was wondering whether to let Max pass, but made the right decision and won the race.”

Race 1 Podium Results: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 35'46.486 (167,589 kph); 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 0.739; 3. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 3.572.

Race 2
A delayed start to the second Assen race made no difference to the outcome as Checa and Biaggi played a high-speed game of cat-and-mouse. Biaggi looked to have it wrapped up as he passed long time leader Checa, only for the Spanish rider to reassert himself on the final lap and win his fourth race of the year. A battle between Rea and Melandri ended when the Italian star fell, leaving Rea on the podium in third. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) was fourth, while a multiple rider fight for fifth went to Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), from Laverty, Fabrizio, Haga, Smrz and Guintoli. In the points standings Checa now leads by 132 to Biaggi's 89. Melandri is third on 85, Rea jumping to fourth with his new total of 79 points.

Race 2 featured a seven seconds faster race time (35’38.693) vs. 2010, where Checa (Duc) demonstrated an ideal usage of the Soft (A) rear tire he changed to for the second race.

“It’s a fantastic result, the win was amazing,” said Race 2 winner Carlos Checa. “I put a soft tire in for the second to get that that extra grip and at the end the tire was good and responsive, this was the question mark. I was trying to put some gap between me and Max, but he was strong. I made a mistake and he passed me but then I overtook him again for the win.”

Race 2 Podium Results: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 35'38.693 (168,199 kph); 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 0.524; 3. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 3.584.
Points (after 3 rounds of 13): 1. Checa 132; 2. Biaggi 89; 3. Melandri 85; 4. Rea 79; 5. Haslam 68; 6. Camier 50; 7. Smrz 49; 8. Fabrizio 47; 9. Laverty 35; 10. Haga 34; etc.
Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 136; 2. Aprilia 106; 3. Yamaha 97; 4. Honda 79; BMW 74; 5. 38; 6. Suzuki 47; 7. Kawasaki 43.

World Supersport
Chaz Davies (Yamaha ParkinGO) took his first win in the WSS category after heading up a 16-lap race that was restarted twice after red flag incidents. Second was Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) some seven seconds back. Third was closely contested but eventually taken by Broc Parkes (Kawasaki Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing Honda) went fourth, David Salom, Parkes' team-mate, was fifth, and Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki rider Massimo Roccoli ended up a fine sixth. James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR Honda) pushed himself to seventh. Only 19 riders crossed the line from a field of 30, with three riders injured in two separate accidents that brought out the red flags. Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda) suffered concussion and an injured shoulder, while Alex Lundh (Cresto Guide Honda) broke his wrist in a fall involving Marko Jerman (MD Team Jerman), who suffered many contusions and abrasions. In the championship standings, crashes from some of the leading contenders also closed up the points totals, with Davies' team-mate Luca Scassa still leading on 50, Parkes on 47, and Davies on 45.

“The SSP race saw a few rider errors and red flags,” continued Barbier, “leaving Scassa (Yamaha) unable to finish but gave a chance to Parkes (Kawasaki), who switched to the Soft (SC1) rear after the red flag to find podium performances, behind Davies (Yamaha) and Foret (Honda).”

Podium Results: 1. Davies C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R6 26'37.029 (163,816 kph); 2. Foret F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 7.236; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-6R 8.084.
Points (after 3 rounds of 12): 1. Scassa 50; 2. Parkes 47; 3. Davies 45; 4. Harms 37; Salom 34; Foret 20; Roccoli 19; Ellison 19; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Yamaha 75; Honda 52; Kawasaki 47; Triumph 9.

Superstock 1000 FIM Cup
In the opening race of the Superstock season Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) held off a strong challenge from Danilo Petrucci (Barni Racing Team Ducati) to secure the win at Assen. Pole man Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superstock) slid (Althea Racing Ducati) back from his early challenge to take third. Lorenzo Baroni had an eventual clear fourth but Bryan Staring (Pedercini Team Kawasaki) had an impressive ride through from 12th place on lap one to give the new Kawasaki Ninja a fifth in its race debut. Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) was the top Honda rider, sixth, having been passed by Staring late on.

Podium Results: 1. Davies C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R6 26'37.029 (163,816 kph); 2. Foret F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 7.236; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-6R 8.084.
Points (after 1 round of 10): Giugliano 25; Petrucci 20; Barrier 16; Baroni 13; Staring 11; Antonelli 10; La Marra 9; 10 Ten Napel 8; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 25 ; 2. BMW 16; 3. Kawasaki 11; 4. Honda 10; 5. Yamaha 4.

The Assen weekend also saw the debut of the European Junior Cup which saw 12 riders line up at the start on identical Kawasaki Ninja 250 machines. The first race win went to German Tom Busch ahead of New Zealand’s Daniel Mettam and American Brandon Kyee.

“In STK600, the first race of the season left a track record 1 sec. faster of 1’40.94 set by new Australian entrant Metcher (Yamaha) on Diablo Supercorsa tires available to our everyday dealer network.” concluded Barbier.

Pirelli BEST LAP Awards:
SBK Race 1 – Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike), 1'36.660 (Lap 3)
SBK Race 2 – Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia Racing), 1'36.476 (Lap 3)

Total BEST LAP (SBK): Biaggi M. (Aprilia Alitalia Racing): 2, Haga N. (PATA Racing Team Aprilia): 1, Checa C. (Althea Racing): 1, Sykes T. (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike): 1, Camier L. (Aprilia Alitalia Racing): 1

WSS – Luca Scassa (Yamaha ParkinGO Team), 1'39.019 (Lap 6)

Total BEST LAP (WSS): Foret F. (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda): 1, Lowes S. (Parkalgar Honda): 1, Scassa L. (Yamaha ParkinGO Team): 1

STK1000 – Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superstock), 1'39.050 (Lap 2) STK600 – Jed Metcher (MTM-RT Motorsports Team), 1'40.949 (Lap 7)

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