Heavy rains and a fortuitous red flag were the difference in the World Superbike Championship‘s visit to The Cathedral of motorcycle racing, the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands.
Aprilia‘s Sylvain Guintoli captured his second win of the season in Race 1, which was halted early by a red flag with five laps to go just as it looked like reigning WSBK champion Tom Sykes was gearing up for a final challenge. The second race was also shortened, not by a red flag but because of a rain, turning the 21-lap race into a 10-lap sprint.
Sykes moved into second on Lap 2, but made a mistake a few laps later, running wide and dropping back to fourth as Rea and Baz went through. Sykes recovered from his setback, passing Rea on Lap 7 and then Baz on Lap 8 before taking aim at Guintoli who was ahead at that point by nearly five seconds.
Lap by lap, Sykes cut away at Guintoli’s lead, trimming it to just 1.259 seconds on Lap 16. But the comeback would end there, as Team Hero EBR‘s Geoff May suffered a mechanical problem that brought out the red flag halting the race.
Guintoli was officially granted the win, with Sykes second and Rea third ahead of Baz. Sykes was visibly frustrated with the result, as it looked like he was gaining the upper hand for the remaining five laps. That’s not to say it would have been easy to get past Guintoli who led for all 16 laps, but at the very least the race was going to have a dramatic finish instead of an anticlimactic red flag.
|2014 WSBK Assen Race One Top Five Results|
|1||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||–|
|2||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+1.259|
|3||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+4.116|
|4||Loris Baz||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+4.459|
|5||Toni Elias||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+23.728|
The second race started much like the first with Guintoli taking the early advantage. The strong start was nullified, however, as heavy rain forced Race Direction to once again bring out the red flag and stop the race. After a lengthy delay, Race Direction ordered a restart for a shortened 10-lap race.
At the restart, it was Rea taking the early lead with Guintoli in second. Things got worse on the next lap for the Aprilia rider as Guintoli crashed on a chicane, sending him sliding off the track. Guintoli was able to remount but the crash dropped him far out of contention.
Sykes benefited from Guintoli’s crash, moving up into second place, with Aprilia’s Marco Melandri in third and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki‘s Alex Lowes in fourth.
The rookie Lowes moved up to second on Lap 4 and turned his attention to Rea who had developed a comfortable lead. The veteran Rea was able to fend off the younger fellow Brit to take his first win of the season. Lowes settled for second place for his first career WSBK podium while Davide Giugliano took third for Ducati‘s first podium of the season.
|2014 WSBK Assen Race Two Top Five Results|
|1||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||–|
|2||Alex Lowes||Suzuki GSX-R1000||+1.259|
|3||Davide Giugliano||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+4.116|
|4||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+4.459|
|5||Leon Haslam||Honda CBR1000RR||+23.728|
After Three Rounds
With Round 3 of the 2014 WSBK Championship in the books, reigning champion Sykes remains on top of the standings with 108 points. Despite the Race Two setback, Guintoli moves up into second place ahead of Baz while Rea’s win helped leapfrogged him over Melandri.
|2014 WSBK Top Five Standings after Three Rounds|
|4||Jonathan Rea||Pata Honda||89|
[Source: WSBK; photos by respective race teams]