By Haydn Cobb

The World Superbike championship was thrown into the spotlight at Assen during Superpole qualifying but not in a way anyone expected and gave the MotoGP spats a run for their money when Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea clashed on and off track.

In the cold light of recorded fact, Jonathan Rea was given a three-place grid penalty for touring during Superpole qualifying which meant he started race one at Assen from fourth place rather than pole position. Rea went on to win race one in Assen while closest rival Davies suffered an electrical fault at the start of the final lap.

But what has transpired since has seen accusations thrown around and tempers boil over to demonstrate the full stresses and passions the World Superbike championship is being held at - even if it is being shrugged at as being out of fashion compared to its MotoGP brother.

Davies and Rea have fronted up on multiple occasions on track but for the first time, at least in an open platform in front of fans, the pair clashed off track with a spat of words in Parc Ferme immediately after qualifying. Tensions were eased by race direction and then quickly brushed over by the events in the opening Assen race a mere two hours after qualifying.

But the incident in qualifying clearly hit Davies with his unprecedented personal statement via his personal Facebook page detailing his thoughts, several facts and a striking message to Rea.

Looking past the 'he said this, he said that' tattle which has drawn battleground lines - which were cast fairly even between fans by my count - credit should be given to Davies for letting the events of the Assen weekend sink in and composing his thoughts in a 1470-word post laying out his view.

Rea has also given his account but hasn't felt the need to get stuck in with quite the same force. Why would he? The history book will show Rea secured a clean sweep at Assen with the initial pole position a new outright lap record plus a double race victory to extend his World Superbike championship lead to 64 points in the space of four rounds. That, and the previous two seasons, speaks volumes for how Rea has dominated the World Superbike championship since joining Kawasaki.

On the face of it Rea seems to have everything in perfect balance to produce this domination. A healthy and injury-free body, totally in sync with the ZX-10RR, a brothers in arms relationship with his Kawasaki crew and a happy and peaceful family life. A rider's mental preparation is where world titles can be won or lost so why would Rea want to risk that by stepping into a war of words.

But that isn't what Davies is asking for either - at least not outright - as he explains in the statement. The pair's rivalry has always been built on a mutual respect but accusations of 'a number of riders' telling Davies they have had 'the same issues' and 'he's willing to play those cards' has only fuelled his frustrations at Rea and hints at something brewing.

Both riders came away from the Parc Ferme incident bitter but these things happen in the heat of battle and made enthralling viewing for the media and fans, something the series has been crying out for. If Davies felt he was the victim of unsportsmanlike conduct he has a right to question it and similarly Rea has a right to defend himself. What made a greater impact was its timing.

In Aragon, Davies was predicted to take the double but effectively missed all of FP1 with an engine failure and sacrificed FP2's race runs to catch-up on set-up work. That may have impacted his last-lap fall in race one as the bike wasn't completely settled for the Welsh rider in the closing stages. Rea went on to win.

In Assen, Davies missed his final shot at pole position due to the Rea incident and then an electrical fault on his factory Ducati took the race out of his hands. Rea went on to win.

Starting 10th on the grid for race two, Davies struggled to make up the ground to Rea and Sykes in the closing stages. Rea went on to win.

These are fine margins but if incidents had favoured Davies arguably it could be four wins each between the pair. Instead it is Rea 7, Davies 1.

This should also be seen as a critical point in the championship for Davies in terms of momentum. Davies was predicted by many for a double victory in Aragon as well as being in contention in Assen before the championship continued to Imola, where Davies claimed a double victory 12 months ago, and then Donington Park where Tom Sykes holds a winning record since 2013.

It is four rounds where Davies' had the opportunity to attack in the title race but instead the defending champion has strengthened his title lead. The factory Ducati rider has an 84-point deficit to reverse in nine rounds which will have only added to his frustrations after the Assen incident. These are all hypothetical and fine lines but those are the margins titles are won and lost. The World Superbike championship points table doesn't lie but also doesn't paint a full picture.

Davies has a right to be angry at the Superpole touring incident, something all riders will be reminded of during briefings for Imola, and Davies is intelligent enough to know how these small margins can have bigger consequences.

Some have accused Davies of throwing his toys out of the pram but if he feels a serious risk of safety, intentionally or unintentionally, he should speak out with Rea given the right to reply. That way it is out in the open, gives a greater understanding to the fans, allows race direction to have their say if required and then move on to what really matters: racing.

Ultimately Davies had his Assen round wrecked by issues beyond his control, something that can also be traced back in Aragon with his FP1 engine problem. Racing Ducati will have been doing everything in its power to give Davies the bike he needs to fight for the world title but with Rea's unwavering consistency and speed these small issues have been severely punished.

The Superpole incident will be something both riders should be keen to move on from after Davies laid out his case while the added spice will no doubt give the series a timely boost over the next few weeks. If Tom Sykes - who had the best view of the Parc Ferme spat and devilishly enjoyed watching on - can recover from his horrible digestion illness and iron out those riding style changes there's no doubt he would relish getting in the mix and who rule out Marco Melandri weighing in.

Davies' calculated statement points the finger at Rea and is a timely reminder that he is down but certainly not out, something Rea will know already, and uses the Superpole storm to give a warning for the rest of the season.

If Davies had anything else irritating him about Rea then he has made it clear and summarises what should be done next in the final paragraph of his statement.

"You're a good enough rider without these games so cut the crap and let's continue to put on the show that is entertaining fans of Superbike, mano a mano."

Read the Davies statement on the Assen Superpole incident in full here


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