A delighted Jonathan Rea has paid tribute to his Ten Kate Racing team after returning both himself and Honda to the top of the World Superbike Championship podium at Assen.
Having won three of the last four races to be held around the Dutch circuit, Rea was feeling confident about his chances from second on the grid and he was duly embroiled in an intense fight for the lead during race one before a shower prompted a red flag.
Starting the nine lap restart from eighth after getting crossed up behind the expiring Kawasak of Tom Sykes just before the stoppage, Rea quickly forged his way to the front, only for the treacherous conditions to catch him out mid-way around the first lap, the Ulsterman sliding into retirement and injuring his finger in the process.
“I felt pretty confident with our strategy in race one and I was feeling quite comfortable when the rain arrived and stopped the race,” Rea said, before noting that his choice of a hard compound tyre would have seen him battling for the win had it stayed dry. “The rain caught out a few people in the second part, including me, and I was just pushing a little too hard when the rear broke away.
“Nobody considered this for the race but, if race one had stayed dry today, I was sitting comfortably, in a good position, ready to pounce at the end.”
Nursing his damaged finger ahead of race two, Rea opted for full slicks on a circuit that remained slippery in places, his decision to again ride with a hard compound keeping him tucked in the chasing pack during the first-half of the race.
However, as his rivals saw their tyres go awry in the warming temperatures, Rea surged back into contention, passing Jakub Smrz for second place and then relieving Sylvain Guintoli of the lead with just two laps remaining. Keeping it tidy for those revolutions, Rea crossed the line to celebrate another home win for the locally based Ten Kate Racing team.
“I'm so happy for the race two result though, especially for all the guys back at the workshop. We know that the package isn't where it should be but they continue to push 100 per cent. I'm so grateful for that, because nobody's given up and we just try to make the bike better every race.
“I felt I had a little more oomph this weekend – I've struggled to get a really happy feeling with the front forks but we're getting them to work now. The new one-bike rule also makes it difficult to develop the package, so to get a day here last week with two bikes was really useful.
“It gives me more confidence and we're now operating in a new area with the bike. I've moved the bars and myself further back to get a bit more edge grip and I think the testament to all that is that we worked all weekend on a strategy with the harder rear. It's really nice to give a little something back to the team, but we've still got work to do.”
Rea's win has seen him rise to sixth in the overall standings, 37 points off the championship lead.