2022 FIM Superbike World Championship
Round Two – Assen
30 years ago, the Netherlands became the 18th country to welcome a relatively new and very exciting production-based motorcycle racing World Championship. Doug Polen and Giancarlo Falappa shared wins, Race 1 saw the top three covered by less than a second and Carl Fogarty’s love affair with a famous Dutch venue began with a podium. 15 of the 24 riders on the current 2022 grid weren’t even born.
The TT Circuit Assen is considered one of the most difficult tracks in the championship and is nicknamed ‘The Cathedral of Speed’ due to the high average speed riders can reach. The circuit was built in 1925 and now measures 4,542 metres with 11 right-handers and 6 left turns. Although not particularly stressed from a thermal point of view, the tyres must still be able to provide to the rider great precision and a lot of directional stability. The Assen allure lies in this series of long and constant speed turns, slow U-shaped turns with braking and sudden acceleration, fast chicanes and long turns with strong acceleration coming out of them, with the bike still leaned over. The circuit was completely resurfaced in 2020, and this represents a variable in addition to that of temperatures: the Assen round in 2021 was held in summer times with temperatures higher than previous seasons, while this year the Paddock will return to more “traditional” lower temperatures of the spring months.
Back to winning in Aragon after nearly two years without victory, Alvaro Bautista is leading again the WorldSBK Championship standings after his first round back with Ducati. In 2019, his last season with Ducati, the Spanish rider won both races at the TT Circuit Assen; and hopes to repeat this performance in 2022 to consolidate his Championship lead. “We were fast at this track in the past. We were fast as well at all tracks during winter tests, so this means we’re not only fast at Aragon. We are strong to be fast at all tracks. After this weekend, we have some data and I’ve noticed some areas where I can improve as a rider. I will work to arrive in Assen in better conditions.” said Bautista.
Jonathan Rea heads to the TT Circuit Assen second in the standings. He has a great record at the Dutch track as he stood on the podium in his last 15 races at Assen. Last year, he scored his most recent triple in WorldSBK meaning the six-time WorldSBK Champion will be one to look out for at the Dutch venue. Also, to note, Jonathan Rea is two wins away from achieving his 100th win with Kawasaki.
“I expect to do my best again. Of course, I expect to be strong, but you never know how strong. The level is really good now. I hope my bike works well from the first day and we can, step-by-step, build the package. I think the temperature will be a little bit lower than it was in Motorland, so we have to understand the life of all the tyre options and see what happens. But Assen is a track I really love. A lot of fans make the journey from the UK, so I’m excited.”
Reigning WorldSBK Champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu, stands third in the rankings heading to Assen. The Dutch venue is one of just three circuits on the calendar that he hasn’t won at and his main focus will be on chasing his first win of 2022.
“I like Assen a lot and even with some bad luck, last year we were very strong there. I hope to be able to fight for race wins again and will try my best. I am very lucky to have an incredible team – Yamaha and the team, they never give up, they have done an incredible job over the winter and we have been fastest in winter testing again and again – also pole position in Aragon. It is this feeling I want to take to Assen, we will try our best to work for the races and we will see.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi started his 2022 season with three fourth places in Aragon. He will look to overcome the front-end problems of Aragon when the tyres drop off, in order to fight for a first victory of the 2022 season. In 2021, he scored a podium finish there and will capitalise on his past experience to achieve a solid weekend.
Alex Lowes is looking to boost his early season championship position after a Race One no-score preceded his sixth and fifth place finishes at the opening round in Aragon. Alex has scored one podium finish at Assen in the past, his very first top three performance in WorldSBK, in 2014. Alex set the fastest lap of Race Two at Motorland recently, proving that his pace is progressing well as he aims to get back into the championship fight in the coming rounds.
“Assen is a track I really enjoy and the Dutch fans are fantastic. I’m hoping to see them out in force this weekend. We had a solid Sunday at Round One and I’m looking forward to building on that. I am excited to see if me and my guys can challenge for our first podium of the 2022 season.”
After a solid first WorldSBK round, both Lecuona and Vierge will hope to consolidate their pace at the TT Circuit Assen, a circuit they’ve not tested at.
“I’m so happy I had a full week off because it’s really helped with my recovery. I’ve continued with the same plan, working with my physio and undergoing hyperbaric chamber treatments. And I’ve also been able to get back in the gym and on my bicycle, which has helped me to make another step forward. I’m pleased and looking forward to getting back on my bike to understand where I really am now. We learned a lot during the first round and now we arrive at a track which I absolutely love. I’m very curious and looking forward to discovering Assen with the CBR. We have a lot of work to do I know, but now that I’m feeling better physically, I’ll be able to focus more on the track action and the job in hand.”
Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) will hope to rebound after a challenging season opening round with the German manufacturer, as it’s the first time since his WorldSBK debut that he classified outside the Championship top five.
“Assen is a good track for me, a track that I had a lot of good results on in the past. It’s a track I really enjoy to ride. I love going to Holland, the atmosphere is always amazing with the fans there. I also lived there for a while, so I have some friends there and it feels very good for me to go to Assen. I think it is maybe a circuit a little bit better for our bike, so I hope to work on better results than in Aragón and work from there. So I look forward to the weekend.”
Team-mate Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) hopes to start his 2022 season at his home round, depending on the evolution of his recovery.
Michael van der Mark
“After the forced break of several weeks I feel ready to return at my home round in Assen. Of course it depends on the final medical check on Thursday but I am confident I can get back on my BMW M 1000 RR at the weekend. The healing process after the surgery went very well. I also had several treatments that additionally seem to have helped to speed up my recovery. I regularly trained in the gym, with an adjusted programme, and that enabled me to keep my fitness at a high level. Of course, I am not expecting to ride at the top at Assen. I know that it will be a challenge, as I haven’t ridden my WorldSBK BMW M 1000 RR since the end of last year and I missed all the pre-season tests in spring time so I also don’t know all the developments made over winter and I first need to understand them before I can benefit from them. In addition, I am feeling very well but am not back to 100 per cent fitness yet, so for me, the most important thing would be to be back in action without focusing on any results. Then we move forward step by step.”
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) took his first WorldSBK podium in Race 2 at Assen in 2021 and will aim to claim his first 2022 one at the Dutch venue.
“I am looking forward to riding in Assen this weekend, it is a great circuit and we have some good memories from my first podium there last year. I think we can be strong this week, together with the guys we will always look to improve in the sessions to be able to fight for the podium and some good results. I want to be more in front and be able to go with the front group of riders from the start, this is my goal and it would be really nice to do it in front of the fans here in Assen!”
Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) stands as the first BWM rider and best Independent riders in ninth in the Championship standings. The Frenchman expect the Dutch circuit to “be a track that suits us better” with the BMW M 1000 RR.
Also fighting for the best Independent rider position, Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) declared “we’ll look forward to Assen – I enjoy the track a lot and I think Yamaha works better there” while Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) said “we still have lots of work to do but I think we are on the right path. I am looking forward to going to Assen to improve our results, but we are there”.
WorldSBK Championship Points
Following Round 1 of the 2022 season, reigning WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter heads to Assen as the Championship leader for his team home round. In 2021, he won both races and will hope to benefit from the various data collected at the track during winter testing to get good results. “We have a very good level. At Assen, we tested there two weeks ago and it was very cold there. Last year, I had two wins and pole position there. Hopefully, we can expect this again. But let’s see how the different manufacturers will do on a different track, how will the weather be now in April…” he said.
Second in the Championship but equal on points with Aegerter, Lorenzo Baldassarri gets ready for his first WorldSSP venue at Assen. He already has experience at this track from his Moto2TM career with a fifth place as his best result there back in 2016.
Third in the standings following his first WorldSSP round, Nicolo Bulega arrives at Assen third in the Championship standings with 27 points. He will hope to benefit from his Moto3TM and Moto2TM experience at the track to continue his solid season start with Ducati’s first win in WorldSSP since Imola 2005 as his target. “We have to work because we are not fighting for the victory and what we want, why we started this project, is to fight for the victory. We need to improve and work really hard,” he said.
Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) stands in fifth place in the Championship standings for MV Agusta. His main focus will be on claiming his first podium of the season at a track where his best result in WorldSSP is an 8th position in 2021.
Just behind him in the standings is Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) for Triumph. The Italian finished eighth in Race 2 at Aragon having started last on the grid. Arriving at the Dutch circuit already knowing the track from his Moto2TM career, he will aim to fight at the front to get Triumph’s first podium since Misano 2012.
Dutchman Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing) who narrowly missed a first WorldSSP podium at Aragon is determined to improve his best race classification. 2020 WorldSSP300 Champion, Jeffrey Buis (Motozoo Racing by Puccetti) will make his first appearance in WorldSSP at his home round.
Oli Bayliss is looking to get more experience under his belt and try to sneak into the points.
Tommy Edwards is also contesting this round of the World Supersport Championship on a YART YZF-R6.
WorldSSP600 Championship Points
|4||Glenn Van Straalen||26|
|14||Raffaele De Rosa||7|
Alvaro Diaz heads to Assen as the WorldSSP300 Championship leader following his solid performance in Aragon and his first win in the category. It will be his time racing at the TT Circuit Assen, and he will hope for a strong weekend to increase his Championship lead and to claim Yamaha’s first win at Assen in the category. “I know that we can be at this level in the rest of the races, here we face the best in the world, but me and my team will do our best to continue this trend,” he explained.
2017 WorldSSP300 Champion stands in second in the standings, equalling Diaz on points. Assen is a track where he has never won in the previous years, nor claimed podium positions. He will be looking to score his best result at Assen as he feels confident on the Yamaha YZF-R3. “I think, this year, we are working very well with Yamaha and also my team. I think we are going in the right direction,” he said.
With two podium places in Aragon, having started both races from 24th place on the grid, Lennox Lehmann is third in the Championship standings. His strong performances show the high potential of the KTM RC 390 R for 2022 and Lehmann will aim to repeat Luca Grunwald’s KTM only win at Assen back in 2018.
Kawasaki will hope to capitalise on their past successes in Assen, including four wins out of five WorldSSP300 races in Assen, to return to the podium.
Dutch rider Steeman has raced at Assen three times in WorldSSP300 with a best result of eighth for KTM, but he hopes he can claim a home win with reigning Champions and Dutch team MTM Kawasaki.
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) and Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) are other Kawasaki riders in the top ten of the Championship and both winners in the class. Okaya will aim for a podium finish with home team MTM Kawasaki and has a best result of sixth at Assen, whilst Di Sora will be hoping to repeat his podium finish from last season when he claimed third in Race 2.
After a difficult start to the season for young Harry Khouri he will be looking to put some runs on the board this weekend.
WorldSSP300 Championship Points
|10||Samuel Di Sora||11|
|14||Hugo De Cancellis||8|
|16||Iker Garcia Abella||5|
2022 WorldSBK Calendar
|July 15-17||Donington Park||SBK/SSP|
|July 29-31||Autodrom Most||SBK/SSP/SSP300|
|Oct 21-23||Circuito San Juan Villicum||SBK/SSP|
|Nov 18-20||Phillip Island||SBK/SSP|
2022 WSBK Round Two – Assen schedule
|Friday April 22, 2022|
|17:00-17:30||R3 bLU cRU Cup||FP1|
|21:30-22:00||R3 bLU cRU Cup||Superpole|
|Saturday April 23, 2022|
|19:45||R3 bLU cRU Cup||Race|
|0:15||R3 bLU cRU Cup||Race 2|
|Sunday April 24, 2022|
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WorldSBK hits Assen this weekend | Preview/Schedule | MCNews
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