#Rea bounces back for another #Assen win
Jonathan Rea took his fourth win in the last six races at Assen in the Netherlands in the second of today’s two third round World Superbike championship races at the Dutch circuit.
The first outing was won by Sylvain Guintoli after it was red flagged when rain began to fall on the 4.542km circuit. Rea had been well-placed in the dry, first part, opting to run with a harder compound rear tyre. In the restart, however, despite a strong start in the wet conditions, Rea crashed out of second place, injuring the ring-finger on his right hand.
The tough 25-year-old from Northern Ireland opted to start the second race, but was forced to sprint to the medical centre for a pain-killing injection after his sighting lap to the grid.
Although the race had been declared wet, Rea’s crew opted to run with slick tyres on the drying track, again with the harder rear compound. After dropping a few places in the early stages, Rea fought his way back to the front, taking a three-second victory over race one winner Guintoli.
Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, took points in both outings, despite starting from 21st on the grid. A lack of rear grip in race one prevented him finishing higher than 12th, and the option of intermediate tyres took him to 13th in race two.
Jonathan Rea – DNF and 1st
I felt pretty confident with our strategy in race one and I was feeling quite comfortable when the rain arrived and stopped the race. The rain caught out a few people in the second part, including me, and I was just pushing a little too hard when the rear broke away. I’m so happy for the race two result though, especially for all the guys back at the workshop. We know that the package isn’t where it should be but they continue to push 100%. I’m so grateful for that, because nobody’s given up and we just try to make the bike better every race. I felt I had a little more oomph this weekend – I’ve struggled to get a really happy feeling with the front forks but we’re getting them to work now. The new one-bike rule also makes it difficult to develop the package, so to get a day here last week with two bikes was really useful. It gives me more confidence and we’re now operating in a new area with the bike. I’ve moved the bars and myself further back to get a bit more edge grip and I think the testament to all that is that we worked all weekend on a strategy with the harder rear. Nobody considered this for the race but, if race one had stayed dry today, I was sitting comfortably, in a good position, ready to pounce at the end. It’s really nice to give a little something back to the team, but we’ve still got work to do.
Hiroshi Aoyama – 12th and 13th
It’s been quite a difficult weekend for us and we were struggling to get rear grip. We worked on it a lot but every time we found something better the conditions changed so we could not really improve the base feeling on the bike. Race one was my first on Pirelli rain tyres so I went a little bit carefully and saw many riders start to crash. At the end I finished 12th which was not too bad, starting from 21st on the grid. In the second race we also started in damp conditions, so tyre choice was critical. Carlos Checa gambled a bit with rain tyres and we also gambled a bit, choosing a cut slick, but in the end there was no more rain so it was really conditions for slicks and we couldn’t find good pace. I’m a little bit sad for myself but, for the team, Johnny did a really good job, so I want to congratulate him. Next time, I’d like to fight for the podium and celebrate with him!
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
Race one today started dry and with Jonathan we made a different tyre choice to our rivals. He maintained a good pace but had some quite scary moments before the red flag came out. Part two was full wet and Johnny got a really good start but unfortunately crashed and hurt his hand. Hiroshi had no grip at the rear in the wet, so he did what he could. Race two was wet but it was drying quite fast so we were keeping a close eye on the weather, helped by our experience here. At the very, VERY last minute, we decided to go with slicks – in fact, we only just had time to get the front tyre in on the grid. Jonathan held his nerve after dropping back a few places and he started to build his race, hunting down the other riders one by one. It ended in a spectacular victory, which everyone is really happy about. I think we need to try Jonathan’s settings with Hiroshi, who managed to speed up during the race, even though the tyres were dropping off. But Jonathan showed again today that the Honda is still a winning package.
2012 World Superbike championship, round three
Assen, Netherlands – 4.542km, 22 laps
Race 1 result (wet part – nine laps:
1 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 18m38.395s
2 Davide Giuliano (ITA) Ducati +2.633s
3 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati +3.031s
4 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +3.927s
5 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia +4.374s
6 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) BMW +11.359s
12 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team +1m13.988s
DNF Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team
Race two result (22 laps):
1 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 36m45.936s
2 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati +2.819s
3 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia +12.638s
4 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW +12.762s
5 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW +12.764s
6 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki +20.393s
13 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team +1m33.576s
Championship points after three of 14 rounds:
1 Biaggi 92, 2 Checa 91, 3 Sykes 79, 4 Guintoli 66, 5 Melandri 66, 6 Rea 65
Next round: Monza, Italy – 4-6 May
Jonathan Rea heads Guintoli at Assen in race two
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