Jonathan Rea was in bullish mood after collecting his first win of the 2011, and the first for the Castrol Honda since the famous name returned to World Superbikes.
After setting the fastest time in second qualifying, the Northern Irishman qualified fifth in the Superpole session. After a good start from the second row, Rea rose to third before taking the lead from Carlos Checa on lap four.
The 24 hour year old then resisted the challenge of Max Biaggi to take the chequered flag 0.739 seconds ahead of the reigning champion, although he admitted it wasn't as straightforward as it appeared.
“We spent all weekend developing the bike for the races, and that strategy paid off. I got a good start but couldn't decide whether to let Max past and let him dictate the pace. In the end I made the right decision to stay in front and take the win.”
Race two brought another podium finish, but Rea was unable to match Biaggi and eventual winner Carlos Checa who disputed the victory themselves. Despite his three-race winning streak at Assen coming to an end, Rea was pleased with the result and the team's prospects for the rest of the season.
“We had to dig deep in race two because I got held up for a while and the front guys got away. I was matching their lap times but we ran into some tyre problems later in the race. I'm really happy with the weekend though, and really grateful to everyone who has helped to get me here – it's been a long hard winter coming back from injury.”
“The team has worked really well and that's exactly the right sort of confidence and momentum that we need to take to the next races. I'm happy to be back where I belong, in the winners' circle, and I look forward to trying to get more wins for the team.”
Team manager Ronald ten Kate added the result was just the boost the team needed, and is hopeful that more victories will follow.
“There was some very solid work by the team to get a good set up for Jonathan, with everything focused on the races. Race one was almost inch perfect from him – he rode really well and made no mistakes. It would have been great to double up like he did last year but, honestly, with the problems he had with the front tyre in race two, he made the right decision not to push and collect instead some good points. During the weekend we talked about putting momentum into our season and getting the big wheel turning and I'm sure we've kick-started the season here. Hopefully we can carry this into the next rounds, too”