Jonathan Rea’s extraordinary WSBK record at Assen continued after the reigning champion won a thrilling opening race of the weekend on Saturday. The Ulsterman took advantage of crashes for teammate Tom Sykes and home favourite Michael van der Mark before defeating Chaz Davies in the closing stages for his fourth win of 2016.
With Friday practice effectively a washout, Superpole represented a journey into the unknown for the riders and it was no surprise to see Sykes, so often the man to beat over a single lap, dominate the session for this 33rd career pole position. Sylvain Guintoli and Davide Giugliano completed the front row but both riders would drop out early in race one, the Frenchman crashing while mechanical misfortune ended the Italian’s afternoon.
A leading group of five had broken away at the front with Davies leading Sykes with Rea, van der Mark and Nicky Hayden also in close attendance. For Sykes, the race began to unravel following consecutive overtakes by van der Mark and Rea at Ramshoek, relegating him to fourth. In an attempt to regain third from his teammate, Sykes overshot the final chicane before losing the front end and ending his race in the gravel trap.
Free from the sister Kawasaki, Rea turned his attention to van der Mark and grabbed second from the Honda rider on lap seventeen but the home favourite fought back, passing the world champion for the lead with both riders overhauling Davies four laps from the finish. The home fans were starting to believe that a home victory could be on but a huge moment at Duikersloot released Rea back into the lead before a second slip-up on the penultimate lap took Michael out of the race altogether.
Rea took full advantage to claim victory with Davies forced to settle for second after being delayed behind the van der Mark crash. Nicky Hayden ensured Honda would still be represented on the rostrum with his best WorldSBK result so far. Leon Camier capitalised on the drama to finish a fantastic fourth for MV Agusta while Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres and Ioda Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori ensured six different manufacturers made up the top six.
Markus Reiterberger finished seventh while Alex Lowes brought the sole remaining PATA Yamaha home in a disappointing eighth.
WorldSBK 2016: Prosecco DOC Dutch Round – Race One Result
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