It was a morning of contrasts for British riders, with Chad Davies having a spill in the earlier warm-up session for race one, leaving his S1000RR minus pieces of fairing, requiring a few adjustments to make it race worthy and leaving him beginning the warm-up lap from the pit lane. This wasn’t the start that he would have wanted, having already suffered a disastrous qualifying that saw him back in thirteenth place.
This misfortune was echoed by his teammate Marco Melandri, who’s BMW slowed to a crawl coming into the final turn and eventually saw him running alongside and pushing his bike off-track as the remainder of the bikes sat on the grid awaiting the lights.
Perhaps predictably this was Sykes’ win from the moment the lights went out, with the gap between him and his nearest rival Jonathon Rea, ever-increasing as the laps progressed. So, it was the fight for the remaining podium places that saw the best of the racing.
Eugene Laverty, looking to recover from his misfortune in Aragaon, took his fellow Northern Irish rider on lap eight, leaving Rea in his air and fending off the Aprilia’s of Guintoli and Giugliano. This resistance wasn’t to last too long, as an awkward moment which saw his rear tyre snake him off-line, saw Rea and his Honda drop down to fourth as Laverty’s team-mate on the Aprilia – and current championship leader, Guintoli – take third.
Further down the pack, Leon Camier - still recovering from an injury suffered at Aragon which saw him dislocate his knee and undergo surgery – was riding a fantastic race on his Suzuki. Having started in last place on the grid due to technical issues in qualifying, he was already up to tenth by lap twelve and into an excellent ninth by the end. Chad Davies too – who himself was up to ninth by lap four managed to sneak into seventh across the line after a good, solid recovery.
Meanwhile, the battle for the podium continued, with Eugene Laverty caught by surprise through the Geert Timmer chicane by Rea on lap sixteen. It was a great move by Rea who was keen to show his advantage around the Assen track. This was proved later in lap nineteen when he took the other Aprilia of Guintoli to move into second. Sylvain is a wily racer however and it only took a half-lap for him to recover and take advantage of the Honda’s slightly slower speed on the straights.
With Sykes still in the distance – storming to take the flag by +8.762 seconds – it was left to a stunning move by Rea to provide the final excitement. It was an audacious pass on Guintoli that saw the pair come into the final corner neck-and-neck and fighting for the right to stand beneath Sykes on the podium. For those with a view of the line it was too close to call, but the timing screens soon provided the answer by announcing the Northern Irishman as the holder of second-place, less than a tenth of a second in front of the British-based Frenchman, Guintoli.
The narrative for race two is now set-up nicely; with Sykes continuing to blast the competition away, Rea desperate to carry-on with his Assen form and the Aprilia’s of Laverty and Guintoli both keen to force their way onto the podium.
World Superbike Assen - Race One: Results
1. T.Sykes – Kawasaki
2. J. Rea – Honda +8.786
3. S. Guintoli – Aprilia +8.792
4. E. Laverty – Aprilia +9.225
5. L. Baz – Kawasaki +14.231
6. D. Giugliano – Aprilia +16.150
7. C. Davies – BMW +22.570
8. J. Cluzel – Suzuki +24.751
9. L. Camier – Suzuki +30.311
10. C. Checa – Ducati +35.277
11. M. Neukirchner – Ducati +44.355
12. M. Fabrizio – Aprilia +52.580
13. A. Badovini – Ducati +59.736
14. I. Clementi – BMW +1’02.010
15. M. Aitchison – Ducati +1’21.717
16. F. Sandi – Kawasaki +1’25.717
17. V. Ianuzzo – BMW +1’42.710
RT. M. Melandri – BMW +22 laps