Rome (Italy), Monday 22 April 2013 – Eni FIM Superbike World Championship prepares for the usual late April round at Assen’s TT Circuit. The capital of the province of Drenthe has always stood for motorcycle racing, as the first event took place in 1925 (on public roads) and the permanent circuit has been hosting World Superbike since 1992. It’s the track with the second highest number of WSBK races held so far (42), along with Monza and behind Phillip Island.
The TT Circuit of Assen is the perfect hunting ground for the current Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team). The Frenchman scored last year his maiden World Superbike win in race 1, which was enhanced by the 2nd place of race 2. The 30 year old from Montélimar, is living his moment of glory on board the RSV4 and has been able so far to finish all races within the top-2 (a win and three second places). Time to get even for Guintoli’s team mate Eugene Laverty, after Aragon’s double DNF. The Irishman has won twice at Assen in his Supersport times (2009 and 2010) and finished 3rd last year in race 2, after successfully defending his position from Melandri and Haslam.
The man on the move is Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), who is back on the track that started his unstoppable charge to the World Supersport title in 2011. Together with team mate Marco Melandri, the Brit – who lies 2nd in the standings thanks to the Aragon double win – will try to give BMW their first podium on the Dutch track (the best result so far is a 5th place).
Home round for the Pata Honda World Superbike Team, in what is being a difficult time for the Nieuwleusen-based team. Jonathan Rea scored 4 of his 10 WSBK race wins at Assen, at least 1 per year from 2010 on. Good memories of the Dutch Round for Leon Haslam with Honda: in 2009, when he returned to WSBK, the rider from Derby finished both races on the podium (a 3rd and a 2nd place).
Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) got the best of a two-day test last week at Jerez, to better prepare to the upcoming round. The goal for both riders is to make up lost ground and to show the potential of the 1199 Panigale R on a track that suits well the L-Twin machine from Borgo Panigale.
Tom Sykes makes his return to Assen after the unfortunate 2012 event, that saw him forced to an early retirement due to a technical problem in race 1, and 6th at the chequered flag in the following one. The Englishman of the Kawasaki Racing Team hasn’t had the best start of the season, especially compared to winter testing and high expectations from last year’s result. Sykes is now 6th in the standings, with 31 points less than 2012. Loris Baz will be back on a WSBK machine after being part of the winning team in the 77th Bol d’Or endurance race - along with close friend and STK1000 rider Jeremy Guarnoni.
Jules Cluzel could be the only full-time FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider to take part to the Assen round: Leon Camier’s participation is still in doubt following the left knee injury sustained at Aragon. Camier will make a final decision only on Thursday, together with the team and the specialists who are assisting him in the recovery.
The unpredictable outcome of the Aragon race has mixed up the cards on the table in the World Supersport Championship, putting even greater importance to this weekend’s round at Assen. After the unfortunate faux pas of both Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) and Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), whose race came to an early end by technical issues, the current Championship Leader is now none other than Sofuoglu’s team mate Fabien Foret, who rode to his 16th race win of the career after a gear shift problem forced an indomitable Sam Lowes to throw the towel in (the Brit was leading the race despite a painful hand and wrist injury).
The Championship Standings are tighter than ever on top, as 2002 World Supersport Champion leads with 38, just a 2-point advantage over “rookie” Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), who is counting down the days to his home round, and 12 on Luca Scassa (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki).
Last year’s Assen round saw the historical podium of Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), the maiden rostrum finish for a Russian rider at world level in motorcycle road racing.
FIM Superbike World Championship