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Superbike World Championship, Netherlands02.05.2017


Rea in Another Realm

With seven victories in eight races, Jonathan continues to dominate the 2017 season, head and shoulders above the pack. In Assen, the defending world champion won twice in front of his teammate, Tom Sykes. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu scored his first success of the year.

The Races

“I’m really happy with this new twin win,” said Jonathan Rea at the Assen circuit in the Netherlands, host of the fourth leg of the Superbike World Championship. “There’s always a lot of pressure when you arrive on a circuit where everyone is waiting to see what you can do. Overcoming that pressure and winning is an enormous satisfaction. I love this track and its fast curves suit our bike down to the ground.” While he was able to take advantage of Chaz Davies’ technical problems to win on Saturday, the Kawasaki rider’s victory the next day was only due to his own efforts. To score the twin-win, Rea had to surpass himself to resist Tom Sykes in the last chicane on the Dutch circuit. Finishing twice in second place, Sykes also had an excellent weekend, especially since physically he is still not quite up to scratch. Finishing in eleventh and fourteenth place respectively, Randy Krummenacher scored points at the finish of both races. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu finished his first race and won his first victory of the year at the end of a race in which he seemed to go it alone. “I was very tense,” says the world champion. “The season started off very badly for me, but after this first success I’ll be a little more relaxed for the rest of the season.” Seventh place for Canduci and twelfth for Ryde completed the tally for the Kawasaki riders.

The Championship

By scoring the 45th win of his career in the Superbike World Championship, and the 30th flying the Kawasaki flag, Jonathan Rea is head and shoulders above the pack in the overall standings. The Brit now has a 64-point lead over Tom Sykes, who has snatched second place in the championship from Chaz Davies. Krummenacher is in sixteenth place with twenty-one points. In Supersport, Sofuoglu took advantage of his first points to finally make it to the overall standings in ninth position, just ahead of Canduci. Kyle Ryde occupies fifth place, five points away from the Italian Rolfo in third place.

The background

Of all the riders on the Superbike World lineup, Tom Sykes is undoubtedly the biggest brakeman. “That’s always been one of my qualities and one of my strengths,” said the Kawasaki rider. “It’s an advantage for overtaking when you’re fighting it out in a group, especially when you have a very fast bike at the end of a straight.” On the other side of the coin, a rider who brakes very hard often has more difficulty coming correctly out of turns. “We’re still looking for a very stable bike,” said Marcel Duinker, the chief engineer for the former world champion. “And that sometimes penalizes the overall agility of the machine.” To brake hard, a rider must also have a strong front tire and an engine that does not have too much inertia. But this year, with the new technical regulations, it is no longer possible for engine manufacturers to modify the crankshaft counterweight settings. “And they are quite heavy from the outset,” explained Duinker. “And that makes the bike push on the brakes at the entry to a corner. We’ve come back to the same problem we had in 2015, and we’ve got to look for new settings to help Tom make the most of his riding experience.”