Jonathan Rea extended his WorldSBK championship lead with a narrow victory over home favourite Michael van der Mark at Assen. The reigning champion held firm despite race-long pressure from the Yamaha rider to claim his third win of the season with nearest title rival Chaz Davies close behind in third.
The day had started with a Superpole surprise as Alex Lowes claimed his maiden WorldSBK pole position, pipping Rea by a tenth of a second, but any hopes of a first win were short-lived as the 27-year-old plummeted down the order, clearly encountering problems with his YZF-R1. Van der Mark flew the flag for Yamaha in his absence though, grabbing the lead on lap eight to the delight of the crowd.
Rea wouldn’t run second for very long, diving back up the inside of van der Mark at the final chicane on lap ten, and the home favourite would soon become embroiled in a battle with Davies for second. Ultimately, the scrap for the podium spots allowed Rea to open up a slight advantage three laps from home and the Ulsterman would eventually triumph by 0.9s from van der Mark and Davies.
A fast-finishing Tom Sykes finished fourth, securing him pole position for race two tomorrow, while Xavi Fores finished a lonely fifth. Marco Melandri struggled on his way to sixth ahead of Althea BMW’s Loris Baz with Orelac’s Leandro Mercado ended up a superb eighth, beating Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu. Lowes’ problems with the no.22 Yamaha saw him tumble all the way to twelfth.
WorldSBK 2018: Motul Dutch Round: Race One
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