After dazzling Assen races
James Toseland (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) scored one win apiece in the SBK races at Assen, held in fantastically sunny conditions for the Netherlands in April.
Each race was a classic of its kind, with Toseland
winning the first from Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) after a multi-rider battle for the lead on occasion, while Toseland looked to have all the bases covered after passing Bayliss on the last lap of race two, but went into the final chicane too deep and Bayliss landed the win by a tiny 0.009 seconds.
Toseland led for most of the 22-laps of the first Assen Superbike race, despite a poor showing in morning warm-up, and his determination and speed through the entire first race finally told in the end. Haga was second by 0.663 seconds, with Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Ducati) once more on top form in third, ahead of both factory Ducatis. Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia) fell two laps from home, while Max Biaggi (Alstare Corona Suzuki Extra) was sixth.
Race two was marginally warmer than race one but the final contest between Toseland and Bayliss was white hot, after leading rider Haga (who set a new record lap with a 1'39.770 on lap two) had to pull out with machine problems on lap 11. Biaggi was eventually third, working his way forward after being swamped by more aggressive riders on lap one. Corser, who had been severely beaten by his race one crash, was a fighting fourth, while Roberto Rolfo (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) had his best race of the year in fifth, leading a bunch of warring riders which was sometimes seven strong. Xaus crashed out of contention twice to score no points and go sixth overall in the series.
TOSELAND EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD DESPITE MISSING DOUBLE
Toseland now has a 32-point lead in the championship fight (196 to 164) with Biaggi still his closest challenger. In overall third is Haga, despite his no score in race two, but with Bayliss jumping up to fourth, on 128 points, the championship chase has just got even more interesting. Corser is fifth after his race one crash, while a second race tumble for Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) puts him seventh, on 98 points.
NEUKIRCHNER OVERALL EIGHTH
Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Germany) recorded a tenth and seventh place in the Assen races, and his points place him in the top eight of the standings after five rounds. Rolfo's excellent fifth, after a ninth in race one, puts him ninth overall. A tough day of work for Fonsi Nieto saw him score two eighth places, and stay inside the top ten, equal on 46 points with Michel Fabrizio (DFX Corse Honda), who had a 12th in race one improve to a 6th in race two.
Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) was seventh in the opener, while Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) could not get the drive and response from his machine to allow him to finish any higher than 16th in race one. A real charge on a slightly different set-up in race two saw him tenth in the second 22-lapper.
WORLD SUPERSPORT - KENAN THE UNSTOPPABLE
Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) once more showed his credentials to be gold plated at a hot and sunny Assen, taking a win that he eventually made look easy, after some tough early exchanges with a mass of warring riders. He now leads by a massive 53 points over third place Assen rider, Fabien Foret (GIL Motorsport Kawasaki) who miscounted the number laps to go and dropped from second to third. Sofuoglu's win was his fourth in five races, with his temporary team-mate. Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) was second in the race and is now fourth overall in the standings.
Sebastien Charpentier (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) was in the podium places, but had to settle for sixth as his lack of race conditioning after injury took a final toll. Barry Veneman (Pioneer Hoegee Suzuki) was a popular fourth, after the unfortunate Broc Parkes (Yamaha World SSP Racing) crashed out with two laps to go. In the championship, Sofuoglu has 120 points; Foret has 67 and Katsuaki Fujiwara (once more knocked off by another crashing rider after suffering the same fate in the previous Valencia race) still third on 43.
SBK Press Office