Assen: PBM Kawasaki event summary

SYKES AND VERMEULEN IN THE POINTS AT ASSEN Kawasaki Racing Team riders Tom Sykes and Chris Vermeulen were in action at round four of the 2010 Hannspree World Superbike Championship whereby both riders scored points at a warm and sunny Assen ...


Kawasaki Racing Team riders Tom Sykes and Chris Vermeulen were in action at round four of the 2010 Hannspree World Superbike Championship whereby both riders scored points at a warm and sunny Assen circuit yesterday.

Riding the factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, Yorkshireman Tom Sykes claimed a creditable 12th place in the day's opening 22-lap race around the 4.5-mile Dutch track, after a race long battle with regular front runners Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) and the Suzuki of Leon Haslam.

However, any hopes Sykes had of improving were scuppered on the opening lap of race two when he was the unwitting victim of a low speed crash which involved a couple of riders and saw him unable to continue from his 14th place start on the grid.

Making a welcome return to action for the Penrith-based team following a knee injury sustained in the opening round was Australian Chris Vermeulen and despite still being handicapped by the problem, the former MotoGP race winner battled heroically all weekend.

A crash during qualifying saw him plant the Paul Bird Motorsport machine in 19th place on the grid but the ex World Supersport Champion battled to 17th place in a tough opening race before finally opening his account for the season with a hard fought 14th place in race two after a race long battle in what was a classic race.

Sykes' crash saw him record only his second non finish of the season, all the others being in the points meaning he occupies 16th in the title chase, just behind the factory BMW of Ruben Xaus and ahead of the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda of Max Neukirchner going into the next round at Monza in two weeks time. Vermeulen's points see him in 20th place in the standings, just behind fellow Aussie and also a World Champion, Andrew Pitt.

Tom Sykes: "We did the best job we could during qualifying but it's never that easy starting from the fourth row. After Superpole the team and I had a good chat looking over the data and to their credit they came up with a good idea for the warm up which was a vast improvement. We suddenly found some extra pace and were fast and consistent for this session in 3rd. Race one and I had a reasonable start but the weather conditions were a lot warmer than in the morning warm up. I got away in the top ten and was holding my own but gradually lost grip on the front towards the end of the race so I lost my top ten spot and had to settle for 12th. Race two was a big disappointment for me as I got caught up with some desperate riders who made a mistake on lap one and I paid the price. Both the team and I were gutted as we were looking really good for an improved result for race two."

Chris Vermeulen: "We finished both races, one in the points. It was difficult to race and I had painkillers and strapping on the knee all weekend. We managed to get there even if the bike set up was not ideal because we had to compromise the settings and my riding position because of the injury. But that side is only going to get better and I am hoping it will be 100% better by the time we get to Monza. With two more weeks of physiotherapy, my knee will improve and I will see how we are in Italy. Scoring points is a real positive that we can take out of this weekend."

Paul Risbridger, Team Manager: "Its been a positive weekend for the team with further points added. We were very pleased to see the return of Chris to the team even though it was obvious that he was not fully fit, he gave 100% all weekend and came away with some well deserved points for his efforts. Tom was competitive from the start of the weekend and his qualifying and race pace showed continued progress. His race one effort was outstanding and we were more than happy with his 12th place. Race two was a big disappointment for both Tom and the team as he was in a very capable position to have achieved even more points but a crash beyond his control put him out of the race. The team is making steady progress and we're looking forward to heading to Monza."

Paul Bird: Team Owner: "Overall it was a much more positive weekend for us than the previous weekends we've had for 2010 with both riders able to at least take away some points from the races. Of course there are always incidents beyond the rider's control so I feel that once again we weren't able to showcase our true efforts and potential with being able to score points in all races which we are more than capable of. I really enjoyed the racing this weekend at Assen and I'm looking forward to seeing Chris return to his full fitness and am happy for Tom that he's making good progress on the ZX-10R."

-source: pbm

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Series World Superbike
Drivers Noriyuki Haga , Ruben Xaus , Chris Vermeulen , Tom Sykes , Leon Haslam , Max Neukirchner , Paul Bird