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“The Cathedral awaits WorldSBK”
Feel the speed as the paddock heads to TT Circuit Assen
Round Four of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is fast approaching, and adrenaline will be pumped and steaks will be high following three weeks away from the tarmac. Heading to the iconic TT Circuit Assen, WorldSBK riders will be fighting for glory in-front of passionate Dutch fans, at a circuit which has captured the hearts of many with its history alone. 4.5km of sweeping corners and perfect overtaking opportunities await the 21 warriors, and as history has proved anything can happen in The Netherlands.
The European leg of the championship began last time out at MotorLand Aragon, and fans witnessed some of the closest racing seen in years as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) went bar to bar, with some dramatic consequences. After a stunning weekend of racing action, riders then took to the track for a one day Official Test, meaning we may see a boost in some performances in Round Four. One thing is for sure, the Acerbis Dutch Round will provide high levels of drama.
All eyes will be on home hero Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) as he heads to his home round following a strong start to the season, but without that all important podium finish so far in 2017. Last year’s Dutch Round was a mixed bag for the 24 year old; crashing out of podium contention in race one but finally getting that taste of glory in race two with a third position finish. Hoping to impress in front of his loyal home fans, van der Mark will look at putting the changes to his YZF-R1 to good use around the historic circuit.
Jonathan Rea left the Pirelli Aragon Round with a 50 point championship lead after just six races, and heads to The Netherlands as one of the favourites for sipping Prosecco on the podium. British riders have won 26 out of the 50 races held around Assen, and out of those Rea has his name to nine of them, meaning he is heading to yet another circuit he is strong around. The 30 year old has a near-perfect record so far in 2017 and with the unpredictable nature of Assen, can he get into double figures?
MotorLand Aragon certainly wasn’t short of drama for Chaz Davies, as the Welshman scored both his first DNF and victory of the season – experiencing heartbreak and ecstasy the space of two days. Just 50 points off Rea in the title chase, Round Three proved anything can happen and Davies will be out to attack at Assen. Involved in the fight for the win last year, Davies’ record around Assen is a varied one but taking three second positions in the last four races puts him in a good position to battle for the victory in Round Four.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) won Assen’s Race One in 2013, and has secured pole position four times around the iconic track. Following a strong start to the season, as well as fighting through an illness around MotorLand Aragon, Sykes sits in third in the championship standings but is yet to secure that sought-after first win of the season. Looking at altering how the ZX-10RR enters corners as well as the general pace of his green machine at the MotorLand test, Sykes will head to Assen with the hope of a better weekend overall in 2017 – following a crash in race one at the unforgiving Gert Timmer chicane.
Impressing so far on his return to WorldSBK, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has secured four podium finishes in 2017, proving he isn’t here to just make up the numbers. Unable to bridge the gap to the leaders, he continues on his battle to become the 100th Italian victor in WorldSBK. With a vast experience around the TT Assen Ciruit, Melandri doesn’t have a strong record around the track –never having finished on the podium here in WorldSBK. However with his consistent pace and a strong Panigale R underneath him, all this could change this weekend.
Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) has a long history with the TT Assen Circuit, securing his second MotoGP™ victory in dramatic circumstances back in 2006, to standing on the WorldSBK podium for the first time in 2016. With a challenging start to 2017 onboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, the American will hope some modifications made in the Official MotorLand Aragon test will help him to progress forward this season – with just three top ten finishes so far. Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) has always struggled around the 4.5km circuit, but will be hoping to turn a new leaf this April.
Following a tough return to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) put in a strong run at the Official MotorLand Test, optimistic he can take this pace forward to The Netherlands. With a mixed history around the ever popular TT Assen Circuit, Laverty took the Race Two victory back in 2013 with Aprilia and out of all the races he has finished around the circuit in WorldSBK – he has done so in the top ten. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) will hope to make his return to the series in The Netherlands, as he sat out of MotorLand Aragon following his injuries sustained in Thailand.
Collecting three top six finishes out of the last four MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship races held at the TT Circuit Assen, Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) will be looking to continue progressing on board his S 1000 RR. With a new team-mate in the experienced Raffaele De Rosa, he will no doubt be hoping to make another step towards the top five in Holland.
Determined MV Agusta rider Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) continues to work through issues on board his 1000 F, producing some impressive results. Running into mechanical issues, the Brit has finished outside of the top ten on just two occasions so far in 2017, and he will hope for a smoother weekend in the fourth round of the season. Camier secured a podium finish in WorldSBK back in 2010 at Assen, which he will hope to emulate this weekend as the 30 year old has taken some credible results at the circuit since then.
Historical Assen the setting for what is set to be a thriller
Three rounds, three winners so far in the FIM Supersport World Championship, and its Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) who leads the way in the unpredictable series so far. Now the paddock heads to the legendary TT Circuit Assen for Round Four, a track which is notorious for providing close, unpredictable racing action. Last year produced strong levels of drama as rain hit the Dutch track which led to the race being red flagged, but new regulations in place for 2017 mean WorldSSP now has flag to flag races, so all this could change for 2017.
High winds around MotorLand Aragon for Round Three didn’t slow WorldSSP riders down, and despite a crash which saw returning World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) score no points so far in 2017, the quality of on track action was second to none. What will Round Four produce?
Mahias planned his win to perfection in the Pirelli Aragon Round and is beginning to show signs of a true championship contender, despite missing out on points in Thailand. The Frenchman took a second position in Australia and following his first victory, knows he now has what it takes to be up and running at the front. With a strong history around the circuit – Mahias’ two WorldSBK appearances have been in The Netherlands – he will understandably be heading there with a good feeling on his Yamaha machine.
Sheridan Morias (Kallio Racing) narrowly missed out on the victory around MotorLand Aragon, despite putting in his best efforts in the hotly contested fight. With his sporadic riding style, the South African was up and fighting from the first lap. With a tough record around the Cathedral it will be a challenge Morias to be up and fighting; however with the backing of his Yamaha YZR-R6 he will certainly have the right machine to help him push for the victory.
Sitting in fourth in the championship standings is young British rider Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who has been taking his time to adjust to the Kawasaki ZX-6R in the hotly competitive series. Team-mate to reigning champion Kenan Sofuolgu, Ryde has secured some consistent finishes in 2017, the 19 year old is only missing out on that all important podium finish. With a limited racing history in The Netherlands, he will spend another weekend learning and understanding the circuit.
Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) has a strong racing history around The Cathedral, and the Finn will be looking to build on his lone podium finish in 2017 as he sits in the top five in the World Championship. With a victory and second position to his name in the now former European Superstock 600 series, Tuuli will be one to keep an eye on as his levels of confidence build.
On top of the previous front runners, World Supersport offers a handful of riders who could produce some heroics throughout the race weekends, and riders not to forget. Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) sits in second position in the championship standings following his Phillip Island heroics, and the Italian has so far kept up a consistent run into 2017. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will be a rider to watch out for around Assen with a strong history around the circuit, he will certainly be out with a point to prove following his DNF at the Pirelli Aragon Round. Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) hasn’t had the start to the season he would have hoped for, with just 13 points scored so far in 2017, which were achieved last time out at MotorLand Aragon. PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was able to take his first podium of the season last time out as he slowly adjusts to the Italian machine, which has caused him some issues so far in 2017.
WorldSSP300: What can Deroue do in front of his home fans?
Young meets the old in The Netherlands
Following the sensational debut race for the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship at the Pirelli Aragon Round, the 35 youngsters head to the legendary TT Circuit Assen – some for the first time – to see what drama can unfold for Round Two.
Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) leads the championship following his win in the opening round, and will be looking to impress in front of his home fans. However this won’t stop the rest of the field who are keen to make their first step onto that all important podium. The swooping 4.5km circuit is the perfect setting for the WorldSSP300 machines, as the tight turns and high speed corners will produce thrilling racing which will no doubt go down to the last lap, and with 35 adrenaline fuelled riders hurtling into the infamous Gert Timmer chicane, all bets are off.
Scott Deroue made history around MotorLand Aragon, taking the first ever pole position and victory in the WorldSSP300 class, and showed true pace and skill aboard his Kawasaki. Leading the way from the opening lap, the 21 year old was up against some stiff competition and weather conditions throughout the 13 lap race. Taking the fight to the final corner he crafted a perfect last lap, securing the victory out of the final corner. Hailing from the city of Nijkerkerveen which is just over an hour away from the legendary circuit, Deroue will have some strong home support at the Acerbis Dutch Round.
Young Spaniard Daniel Valle (Halcourier Racing) impressed in the Pirelli Aragon Round, and is already hungry for more as he sets his sights on the victory in round two. 17 year old Valle has limited experience in the racing world however with the skills shown in the stunning battle at the debut round, you would be fooled. With the support of the Yamaha YZF-R3, Valle will have a strong base around Assen, which has a strong history with the Japanese manufacturer.
On one of just three Honda CBR500R machines, Mika Perez (WILSport Racedays) caused a stir around MotorLand Aragon, fighting for the victory until the final lap in front of his home fans. The reigning European Junior Cup champion has a strong experience racing through tight fields, and finished on the podium around Assen in 2016; with background knowledge of all the circuits on the WorldSSP300 calendar, he will be one to watch out for in The Netherlands.
Borja Sanchez (Halcourier Racing) sits in fourth position in the championship and was another rider to impress in the opening round in Spain, despite missing out on securing a debut podium finish. With history in the CEV Repsol Moto3 class, Sanchez will be able to build on his previous pace and make another step towards taking the top three, but he will have some stiff competition.
We are yet to see the full potential of Mytyta Kalinin (Team MOTOXRACING), as the Ukranian rider crashed out of the Pirelli Aragon Round after fighting up for the victory. Qualifying on the front row, the 18 year old clearly has a strong pace on his Yamaha machine and it will be interesting to see how he can perform across the full race distance. Again on a bike which Assen has been kind to in the past, Kalinin will be looking to put his demons to bed early on in the season, with the hope of creeping up the championship table.
Ana Carrasco (ETG Racing) suffered a tough debut weekend last time out, but was able to take a top ten finish away with her following a steady start. Bringing her knowledge of the Dutch circuit, the 19 year old will hope to be up and fighting for podiums at the Acerbis Dutch Round.
STK1000: Rinaldi heads to The Netherlands with the target on his back
The fight is to stop the dominance at iconic track
MotorLand Aragon treated fans to the opening round of the European Superstock 1000 Championship, and it didn’t take long for us to establish who will be the riders to beat in 2017. Despite the unpredictable nature of the championship, dominance was the theme in Spain. In such a close-fought championship, the flowing character of the TT Circuit Assen will no doubt provide some stunning racing action.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) leads the championship standings heading into the second round of the season, following a stunning display of dominance to open the season with. The Italian started the season on the best possible foot with his Ducati Panigale R, and now the paddock heads to Assen – where Rinaldi has a podium finishing history. The 21 year old will certainly be the rider with the target on his back in The Netherlands.
The Italian will be facing some stiff competition from Florian Marino (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team) and team-mate Roberto Tamburini (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team), around a circuit which is notoriously favourable to the YZF-R1. The duo completed the podium in MotorLand after a lonely race for the pair, however a strong Sunday saw them improve on their pace from qualifying as they started from the second row.
Protégé of his compatriot Kenan Sofuoglu, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will be hoping to emulate his success of 2015 when he took the victory in the European Superstock 600 series. Taking a top four finish in the opening race of 2017, the young Turk will be a talent to keep an eye on as we delve further into the season.
Marco Faccani (Althea BMW Racing Team) brings experience with him into the STK1000 Championship this year, and with a top five pace already the Italian is keen to improve. Looking to work through shoulder pain he is suffering with from a previous injury, a break will have helped Faccani. At a circuit that hasn’t been overly kind to the 21 year old in the past, will he be able to keep up his top five pace?
Lone Dutch rider in the STK1000 Championship, Wayne Tessels (Agro On-Benjan-Kawasaki) will have the home crowd support behind him and as we have seen at both Assen and in STK1000 – anything can happen.