Bautista goes 1-1 at Assen matching Rea’s 11 in-a-row win record
Despite regulation changes late last week, Spaniard Alvaro Bautista continued to dominate world superbike racing this past weekend in Assen, white-washing his opposition in Ducati red to win both races and clock up his tenth and 11th consecutive win.
With his 11th win, Bautista is now level with Jonathan Rea in terms of consecutive race wins – something the reigning champion only achieved last year – but no rider has ever dominated the beginning of a season like the Spaniard to complete 11 perfect finishes from the season get-go.
It also puts Bautista level with Ruben Xaus, Regis Laconi and Stephane Mertens with number of wins in their WorldSBK career. His Assen number 11 gave Ducati their 352nd race win in WorldSBK and their 27th at Assen.
WorldSBK Race 1
Never predictable, the weather in Holland Saturday proved erratic at best and a snow-storm forced the opening WorldSBK race to be postponed. Sunday though was a different story and sunshine greeted the riders and fans – the perfect playground to host a reworked schedule that saw the sprint dropped, to allow for the two traditional longer- haul races.
Despite changes to the regulations late last week, Bautista had the field’s measure and took race one – the first rider in WorldSBK history to take ten victories in the opening ten races. Jonathan Rea was second and Michael van der Mark in his home race, was third.
With the race firing into life, Alvaro Bautista took the advantage at turn one and led the opening few laps of the race. It was a brilliant start by Markus Reiterberger, who was up to second position, demoting Michael van der Mark, whilst Leon Haslam was fourth. Rocketing through on the first lap from eighth, Jonathan Rea was fifth by the end of the lap one, before getting his teammate for fourth at turn one at the start of lap two.
As the race settled down, Michael van der Mark began to drop back, unable to fight off a rampant Jonathan Rea. Soon, the Dutchman had Alex Lowes for company, whilst out front, Alvaro Bautista was beginning to stretch Reiterberger. Rea was starting to close but not enough to get on terms with Reiterberger straight away.
Chaz Davies was in a battle with Tom Sykes, before starting to pull away in the middle of the race. Behind Sykes in the same battle were the leading independent riders, consisting of Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu. The two riders swapped positions rather aggressively but the Spaniard was able to stay head.
With five laps to go, ‘Pocket Rocket’ Leon Haslam had started to line up the rear end of Alex Lowes’ Yamaha, as the two continued to battle and fight. Despite trying to pull away, Haslam was able to remain with Lowes and eventually, with three laps to go, made the pass at the final chicane. However, a mistake by Haslam at turn seven allowed Lowes back ahead, making for a great last lap between the two.
However, at the front, it was business as usual for Alvaro Bautista, who made history to take the Assen win and become the first rider to win the opening ten races of a WorldSBK season. Jonathan Rea finished second once again in another damage limitation ride, whereas it home-hero Michael van der Mark who completed the podium – his first of the season. Alex Lowes put in the ride of his life with a determined fourth position, ahead of WorldSBK returnee Leon Haslam.
A fine ride by Markus Reiterberger saw him take a stunning sixth position, whilst Chaz Davies was seventh, a further 1.8s behind the German revelation. It was a big battle on the final run to line between Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu, with the Spaniard holding on for eighth position and Toprak in ninth. A dejected Tom Sykes could only manage tenth.
WorldSBK Race 2
WorldSBK went to war on the famous TT Circuit Assen layout in the second traditional race of round four, with ten riders in the leading group in the early stages. However, after a fast start, Jonathan Rea couldn’t hold off Alvaro Bautista any longer, as the Spaniard charged ahead to take his 11th consecutive race win of the year. Michael van der Mark came in second, and Jonathan Rea was third.
A frantic first lap saw Jonathan Rea rocket through the grid from eighth and was already up to the lead by turn five, in what was an impressive opening few corners from the reigning four-time champion. Alvaro Bautista was placed in second but under some serous pressure from home-hero, Michael van der Mark. Leon Haslam was also right in the mix during the opening laps, whilst Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies completed the top six.
The race unfolded, and Jonathan Rea was putting in a fantastic effort to defend from Bautista, standing the bike up on the apex of turn five in order to back Bautista up into the chasing pack. Chaz Davies was able to climb up the order and got as high as third, whilst Michael van der Mark was being pushed back down the order, to fifth.
On lap six, Bautista, who had been continuously probing and searching for a way ahead of Rea, made his move at the fierce turn eight, slamming his Ducati down the inside. The move rattled Rea, who needed to fight back straight away to get a hold of Bautista before he stretched away. The Northern Irishman was then passed by Chaz Davies at turn nine and Ducati were first and second at Assen.
Rea was soon back into the second place, getting ahead of Davies at the final chicane. Alex Lowes was still ahead of his teammate, but Leon Haslam was the rider who looked rather ominous, lapping quicker than the two Yamaha riders ahead. Just behind, it was another solid ride from Markus Reiterberger who was seventh for the majority of the race.
From the middle of the race, it was a phenomenal ride from Michael van der Mark, who was lapping far quicker than everyone ahead of him, including Bautista at one point. The Dutch rider was heroic, bridging a huge gap in short time to catch Jonathan Rea with just three laps remaining. At turn 13, around the outside, a brave van der Mark roared ahead, with Rea now facing losing more points to Bautista. As Rea went backwards, it was his teammate Haslam who suffered a similar fate after looking so strong, sliding back behind the BMWs of Reiterberger and Tom Sykes.
With the last lap upon us, Bautista had secured enough of an advantage to secure another win, and despite a desperate attempt by Rea at turn ten to get ahead of van der Mark – where they collided – it wasn’t enough, with the crowd’s favourite battling hard to remain ahead.
Álvaro Bautista saying, “I’m very happy because I won two races at a circuit which was maybe not very favourable for us, and where the Kawasakis had always won in the past. The weekend didn’t get off to the best start on Friday, but in any case we managed to be consistent and competitive. Today we did two full-distance 21-lap races and I can tell you that I used up all my energy, but my training helped me a lot. In the first race in the morning there were very cold conditions, but I tried to get a good start and set my own pace right from the start. I was able to open up a bit of a gap on my rivals and manage the situation well to go on to win Race 1. In Race 2 to be honest I didn’t expect to see Rea ahead of me at Turn 4 because he was on the third row, but he made an incredible start. In the early laps I was taking it easy, trying to stay up and study him well but I could see that his pace was a bit slow so I decided to pass him. I always tried to give my all, in fact we also improved on the circuit record, so it was another wonderful weekend.”
Bautista took the victory but on a run to the line, Rea got alongside van der Mark, but the Dutch star held on ahead of the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion.
Michael van der Mark explaining, “Today was proper old school Superbike, with two long races in one day. This morning we had to go with the harder rear tyre because the track was quite cold. It made the bike difficult to ride because the rear was spinning quite a lot and there wasn’t so much feeling, but we knew this would be the case and it was definitely the right choice for the race. In the second race the temperature had risen enough to go with the soft option rear, but the pace at the start of the race wasn’t as high as I’d expected. I could see Johnny in front of me, but I was battling with a few riders and trying not to lose position, so I couldn’t chase earlier in the race. I tried to stay calm and, once clear of the battles, I managed to close the gap to Johnny and was planning to make the move with two laps to go. But then the opportunity came to go around the outside of him in a fifth gear corner a lap early, so I took it. After that we had a good battle, I think we touched at least once around the back part of the circuit, but we were both struggling for grip at that point. The team did a great job with the bike this weekend, so thanks to them, and a big thank you to the Dutch fans for their support, in what were very cold conditions for anyone sat in the grandstands. I’m happy we could repay them with two podiums today.”
Jonathan Rea stating, “I felt good in the fight and my team gave me a good bike to fight with and keep the gap quite stable for a while. I enjoyed today and it was like good old Superbike, two long races in one day. I feel like the only difference today was that I had a shorter time to take lunch and prepare for race two. But it was not anything extraordinary. I really feel like we maximised our potential with the bike this weekend. I felt good with the bike and we were stronger in some sectors and weaker in others compared to Alvaro. Even in the cold conditions I felt like the grip level was really, really good but at the end when the tyres were dropping, I lost a lot of grip. The bike became more physical to ride. Apart from that I was very impressed with the potential of the tyres and I was able to run quite consistently in the start to middle of the second race. I am pretty content.”
Fourth position was secured by Alex Lowes ahead of Chaz Davies, whilst Markus Reiterberger held off Tom Sykes on a run to the line for his second consecutive sixth position.
Alex Lowes adding, “I didn’t feel so strong in the colder conditions of the first race this morning, but it was good to get into a bit of a battle with Leon in the race and even better to beat him to fourth place on the last lap. I felt a lot stronger in the second race, when the slight increase in temperature meant we could run the soft rear tyre. I got up into third after passing Michael and I felt quite good, but then when he came back past me there were a couple of sections where he was a bit stronger than me and I couldn’t quite stay with him. I have to be happy with two fourth places, as this was the best we could do here today, so I’ll take the points and start looking now towards the next race in Imola. Congratulations to Michael and the team, as it was great to see a double podium again today. There’s a fantastic atmosphere in the team and we’re making steps forward every week, which is good to see and great to be a part of.”
Tom Sykes saying, “Everyone has seen the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR is high considering how early the project is. Although the positions weren’t what I was hoping for today, on the positive side we have gained a lot of information. I was able to see where I am losing out and during the race that was confirmed it. We will try to improve now where we are missing out and moving forward we know that we progress on this in the next race. Markus rode really well today, I knew he would be strong from his race here last year on the Superstock bike. One of the positives we can take forward is that in general the RR is working in the right direction. We have been consistently around five seconds from P2 in most races so given my experience and the level of the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team, I think we will get to where we need to be throughout the season.”
Markus Reiterberger adding, “I am really happy. The weekend in Assen was great and a big thank you goes to my team for their hard work. We have taken another step and I felt really good on the RR all weekend. I got off to a great start in the opening race and was able to match the pace at the front of the field for the first few laps. After seven or eight laps, however, I had a few issues with the grip on the rear tyre – there was quite a lot of movement entering and exiting the corners. I took wider lines and consequently made two mistakes, and I was forced off while overtaking on one occasion. Despite this, however, I was able to finish in the top six. The second race also went well. We made a few changes to the balance of the bike. Unfortunately, my start was not so good in race two and we lost a few positions. I was able to maintain the same level for a relatively long time. In the end, I fancied myself to finish fifth, but I lost a lot of time behind (Leon) Haslam. That allowed (Chaz) Davies to escape in fifth place. We can now recharge our batteries a bit and prepare for the next races. We are heading in the right direction and will continue to work on further improving the chassis.”
In eighth position, Leon Haslam struggled home, some 20 seconds behind race winner Bautista. He was only just ahead of the two Independent Kawasaki riders of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jordi Torres, completing the top ten in that respective order.
Leon Haslam explaining, “In both races, with about eight laps to go in race one, the front tyre grip just went and it was even worse in race two, with about 11 or 12 to go. I was happy to keep the bike upright and not lose the front. I feel we easily had the pace for podiums but we didn’t, so we have to reassess the problems.”
WSBK Race 1 Results – Top 10
- A. BAUTISTA ESP ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati
- J. REA GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +3.130
- M. VAN DER MARK NED Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +4.934
- A. LOWES GBR Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +10.679
- L. HASLAM GBR Kawasaki Racing Team +10.859
- M. REITERBERGER GER BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.105
- C. DAVIES GBR ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati +17.001
- J. TORRES ESP Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki +20.227
- T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR Turkish Puccetti Racing +20.276
- T. SYKES GBR BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +21.748
WSBK Race 2 Results – Top 10
- A. BAUTISTA ESP ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati
- M. VAN DER MARK NED Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +4.688
- J. REA GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +4.706
- A. LOWES GBR Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +10.073
- C. DAVIES GBR ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati +13.667
- M. REITERBERGER GER BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.373
- T. SYKES GBR BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.387
- L. HASLAM GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +20.915
- T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR Turkish Puccetti Racing +22.922
- J. TORRES ESP Team Pedercini Racing +23.518
2019 WSBK Standings following Assen
- BAUTISTA Alvaro SPA 236
- REA Jonathan GBR 183
- LOWES Alex GBR 126
- VAN DER MARK Michael NDL 115
- HASLAM Leon GBR 93
- DAVIES Chaz GBR 76
- MELANDRI Marco ITA 69
- CORTESE Sandro GER 64
- SYKES Tom GBR 54
- TORRES Jordi SPA 49
- RAZGATLIOGLU Toprak TUR 46
- RINALDI Michael Ruben ITA 36
- REITERBERGER Markus GER 35
- LAVERTY Eugene IRE 32
- CAMIER Leon GBR 26
- MERCADO Leandro ARG 11
- KIYONARI Ryuichi JPN 10
- DELBIANCO Alessandro ITA 3
World Supersport: Caricasulo takes his first flag
World Supersport at Assen proved to be another fair-bashing, head-to-head squabble, with nothing but pure action prevailing throughout the 18-lap encounter. In a group of six riders, it would be Federico Caricasulo who would take his first win of the season, to claw back points on his championship-leading teammate.
It was a frantic opening lap that saw Raffaele De Rosa lead into turn one, whilst Randy Krummenacher slotted into second position. It was a rapid start for Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger who was up to a mighty third position, whereas the same could not be said for Federico Caricasulo, who dropped down as far as eighth on the opening lap from second position on the grid. Hannes Soomer maintained his starting position on the opening lap, with fourth position ahead of Jules Cluzel in fifth.
Krummenacher took the lead of the race at the end of the opening lap, whilst title rival Jules Cluzel had pushed his way through the field to be fantastic second by turn six. It was a good opening few laps of the race for the pairing of Lucas Mahias Hikari Okubo, running well within what started out as a leading group of nine riders.
The group then fragmented, with top five escaping and initially leaving Lucas Mahias behind. However, it was a strong mid-race that brought Mahias back in to the fight, bridging a big gap and setting the fastest lap of the race at the same time. Federico Caricasulo had begun his fight back and was already up to second, courtesy of mistakes of other riders. Raffaele De Rosa was also putting hard moves on riders, with a bold move at turn one for third position, shoving Cluzel off line and back to sixth and allowing Krummenacher and Caricasulo to momentarily escape.
However, just half a lap later, De Rosa crashed out at turn nine, under pressure from Thomas Gradinger and trying to get back in the fight for the lead. The Italian was OK, remounted but returned his MV Agusta to the pits for a second non-score of the WorldSSP season. Now with the leading group down to five riders, the gloves were starting to come off.
The final lap soon beckoned and having stalked teammate Krummenacher for the majority of the second half of the race, Caricasulo put in a classy, sophisticated pass at turn eight to lead the race for the first time with just half a lap left to go. Krummenacher rode closely for the remaining few corners but wasn’t able to get back ahead.
Caricasulo took the victory ahead of his teammate, whilst Thomas Gradinger made history for Austria as he gave the nation their first WorldSSP podium. Jules Cluzel was off the podium for the second consecutive race in fourth, whilst Lucas Mahias took his best finish in 2019 with fifth, a little over a second back of winner, Federico Caricasulo.
Corentin Perolari was a strong sixth position, holding off Hikari Okubo and Isaac Viñales. Rounding out the top ten, Glenn van Straalen was ninth and put on a fantastic display in front of his massive home crowd, whereas completing the top ten was Jules Danilo, who finished as top Honda, following a late crash for Estonian, Hannes Soomer.
WSSP Race Results
- F. CARICASULO ITA BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team
- R. KRUMMENACHER SUI BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team +0.032
- T. GRADINGER AUT Kallio Racing +0.223
- J. CLUZEL FRA GMT94 YAMAHA +0.580
- L. MAHIAS FRA Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +1.277
- C. PEROLARI FRA GMT94 YAMAHA +13.748
- H. OKUBO JPN Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +13.873
- I. VINALES ESP Kallio Racing +13.959
- G. VAN STRAALEN NED EAB Racing +20.784
- J. DANILO FRA CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +21.632
WSSP Standings after Assen
- Randy Krummenacher 90
- Federico Caricasulo 73
- Jules Cluzel 69
- Thomas Gradinger 40
- Hikari Okubo 37
- Corentin Perolari 34
- Lucas Mahias 32
- Raffaele De Rosa 31
- Isaac Vinales 27
- Hector Barbera 22
…19. Tom Toparis 5
World Supersport 300: Gonzalez takes second victory at Assen
WorldSSP300 once again put on a phenomenal show to complete has been an incredible Motul Dutch Round for the World Supersport 300 championship. 19 riders battled hard to see who would take the victory in front of a packed Assen crowd, which eventually saw Manuel Gonzalez take a second career win!
Pole position was taken by Galang Hendra Pratama, who got an incredible start and led by Turn 1. However, despite the big initial gap, the race was far from over, as Manuel Gonzalez pushed through to lead, whilst Hugo De Cancellis also came through the field. Teammate Omar Bonoli was also a prominent figure in the leading group, along with Ana Carrasco, Scott Deroue and Nick Kalinin.
As the leaders swapped and changed in frantic fashion throughout the race, there were some massive accidents. Tom Edwards crashed at the ferocious Turn 7, with his bike taking a huge beating on Lap 3. Also crashing in front of him at the same corner and on the same lap, were Kevin Arduini and his teammate, Jack Hyde.
In a race which saw riders drop back and then surge forwards, one of the most notable improvers was Bruno Ieraci, who qualified in 28th place but was up in the lead on the final lap, having to fend off the likes of Ana Carrasco and Manuel Gonzalez!
It was chaos at the final chicane, as all 19 riders looked to try and make up as many positions as possible. Contact between Jan-Ole Jahnig and Manuel Gonzalez forced the Spaniard off track at the final chicane, but he crossed the line in first! Scott Deroue was in third place as the chasing pack crossed the line, with 2.3s covering the top 19!
After a small pause as race direction looked at the results, Gonzalez maintained his victory whilst Jahnig was forced to drop a place for exceeding track limits! Deroue took second in front of his home fans, whilst Jahnig was third and achieved his first podium! Nick Kalinin was fourth whilst Hugo De Cancellis was fifth.
WSSP300 Race Results
- M. GONZALEZ ESP Kawasaki ParkinGO Team
- S. DEROUE NED Kawasaki MOTOPORT +0.143
- J. JAHNIG GER Freudenberg KTM Junior Team +0.320
- N. KALININ UKR Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki +0.417
- H. DE CANCELLIS FRA Team Trasimeno +0.450
- O. BONOLI ITA Team Trasimeno +0.500
- B. IERACI ITA Kawasaki GP Project +0.588
- A. CARRASCO ESP Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300 +0.780
- A. VERDOÏA FRA BCD Yamaha MS Racing +0.945
- V. STEEMAN NED Freudenberg KTM Junior Team +1.009
WSSP300 Standings after Assen
- Manuel Gonzalez 50
- Scott Deroue 36
- Hugo De Cancellis 31
- Jan-Ole Jahnig 29
- Omar Bonoli 19
- Andy Verdoïa 18
- Bruno Ieraci 17
- Victor Steeman 16
- Nick Kalinin 15
- Robert Schotman 9