Can Jonathan Rea kickstart Yamaha career at Assen this weekend?

Jonathan Rea to debut at his favourite track on a Yamaha

Jonathan Rea, Catalunya WorldSBK Race1, 23 March
Jonathan Rea, Catalunya WorldSBK Race1, 23 March

Jonathan Rea holds the record for the most WorldSBK wins at any track, with a remarkable 17 at Assen.

The third round of the WSBK 2024 season is this weekend at the Dutch circuit.

Rea has historically dominated there with Kawasaki, but now returns for the first time on a Yamaha.

So far, his Yamaha career hasn’t got up and running.

“I’m really excited to go to Assen because it’s a track I really enjoy, I’ve had a lot of success there in the past and I feel it’s going to be a really strong circuit for the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK as well,” Rea insisted.

“As always with Assen in April, we need to pay attention to the weather.

“It will be the first time this season that we will experience really cool conditions, so hopefully on Friday we can get a good feeling with my bike, my crew and step by step work to have a good race package that we can fight for a good result with on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s always a really nice event in the Netherlands, lots of fans and lots of travelling support for me coming from the UK as well.

“I have high expectations for the weekend and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Pata Prometeon Yamaha teammate Andrea Locatelli has fared better in 2024 so far.

Locatelli claimed his first WSBK podium at Assen three years ago, and has secured a top-five finish in every race at this track since.

“I’m really happy to be back on track this week in Assen,” Locatelli said. “Thinking about the first two rounds, we were able to be in the front group always to show our potential – in Phillip Island, especially.

“Barcelona was a bit of a tricky track for us, but in Race 1 we finished not so far from the front with P5.

“Race 2 was a bit unlucky, but I think overall, we have started the season in a good way.

“It has been a good start with some new guys on the team and with my Crew Chief, Tom O’Kane.

“We have taken a step and improved a lot, and also with my confidence on the bike – these are important things.

“Assen is a really nice circuit, fast and flowing, and I love to ride it!

“Every year we have achieved a podium there, so it would be nice to continue the tradition and have the opportunity to get another one!

“In the past few weeks, I have been working on some final recovery on my knee but it is close to 100% and the feeling is good.

“I also met with Tom to organise our plan for the weekend and I think we have all the key things to be fast there, so let’s see.

“We want to be positive and I believe we can fight to be back on the podium.”

Locatelli’s crew chief Tom O’Kane added: “The weather and track temperature in Assen can vary greatly and, of course, these are major factors in tyre choice and bike set-up.

“The track itself has a couple of different characteristics: the first sector is tight and it's very important for the rider to make a good exit onto the back straight from the very slow Turn 5.

“However, the rest of the track is mostly very fast corners connected by high speed direction changes.

“The bike must be stable in the fast corners but agile enough for the direction changes.

“Loka has always been fast in Assen in WorldSBK and we'll be working hard to give him the best R1 possible.” 

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