Chris Vermeulen pulled out all the stops to win the ninth round of the Alstare Corona Extra World Superbike Championship at Assen in the Netherlands. This is his Winston Ten Kate team's home race and Vermeulen has been determined all weekend to win.
Off the line, Vermeulen had his work cut out for him as Troy Corser, Nori Haga and James Toseland all got away with him, but, on lap three, the Briton ran wide and that allowed Vermeulen to make a break for it.
“It went almost perfect for me!” the Australian smiled, “I've got one more to go and it won't be easy, but I really enjoy racing here, the team have worked well and I'm going to try and win the next one.”
Making a break at the front helped Vermeulen, as he explained: "It's never easy and, last year, I had a good race here with James. It is definitely easier running on my own and I'll do it again if I can.”
Second place went to current world champion Toseland, but only after a race-long battle with Noriyuki Haga. The Xerox Ducati and Yamaha Italia machines swapped places all race, much to the delight of the crowd.
“I enjoy racing Nori and, last year, we raced closer than that, we were quite tame really!” said Toseland.
With team-mate Regis Laconi
out through injury Toseland, admitted that he felt under pressure as the sole Xerox Ducati rider.
“I'm under a lot of pressure as it is just me, but I enjoy that,” he said.
Haga was really pushing his Yamaha Italia machine in his usual loose riding style, and had a paint-trading fight with Toseland before ceding the middle step of the podium to the Briton. He will make changes to his bike before race two.
“I really enjoy riding with James but, at the end, I can't stay with him," the Japanese ace admitted, "There were only two laps left, but my tyre was finished.
"I have to speak to my suspension technicians now, as I am confused which direction to make changes, but will decide before race two.”
Current championship leader Corser had been battling for the lead until he suddenly dropped back due to lack of rear grip.
“I just couldn't run the times consistently," the Australian revealed, "I could run with them for a few laps, but I just didn't have the rear grip. It was a hard race, but we will make some changes for race two.”
Chris Walker was taken out on the first lap by Jurgen van den Goorbergh, the PSG-1 Kawasaki rider breaking his right elbow whilst his Rizla Suzuki-mounted assailant stayed on board to finish in 20th spot. Walker's injury will probably rule him out of round ten of the championship, at Lausitzring in Germany next weekend.
The Petronas team had a good result, with both riders coming home in the points, but it could have been better for Steve Martin, who qualified on the second row of the grid and was running in the top ten before slipping back in the closing stages to come home in 14th - behind team-mate Garry McCoy, who started in 21st. McCoy picked his way through the pack to 14th and, on the last lap, as Martin ran wide, was able to capitalise on his misfortune.WSBK race one results – Assen: