A change can do you good – new era of competitive racing in WorldSBK

Thursday, 26 April 2018 13:50 GMT

Delve into some Dutch WorldSBK analysis with commentator Steve English

Back to back races are always difficult in racing, but with 100 points on offer over two weekends they offer a tremendous opportunity to build momentum.

As Aragon and Assen been and gone we now have almost one third of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in the books, and once again it's clear that Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is the man to beat, but a lot has changed compared to recent years.

The MOTUL Dutch Round of WorldSBK saw Rea finish the weekend with 45 points, and extend his title advantage to 30 points over Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati). Assen was a tough weekend for Davies and his fifth place finish on Sunday proved costly, but the Welshman will go to Imola where he has been unbeaten for the last two years, with confidence of righting the ship.

Rea has done a good job of maximizing the most out of his Kawasaki, and getting as many points as possible when it's not the best package on track. Race 1 at Assen was arguably one such occasion, with the Northern Irishman under constant attack from Davies and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). Fighting a rear guard action and managing tyre wear, Rea was able to stay in front and claim his 12th Dutch victory. Sunday's race was damage limitation, but there was no disgrace in finishing second to team-mate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

The 2013 world champion claimed his first win of the season following a superb performance. The Kawasaki rider was hamstrung on Saturday by traffic in Superpole, but starting from pole position for Race 2 was all he needed to claim the win. Converting the lead into Turn 1, he was never challenged en route to his 34th career victory.

While Sykes was peerless, it was van der Mark who was making the home crowd delirious. The home hero had a stunning weekend and his double podium showed once again, that a first WorldSBK victory is just around the corner. His performance in Race 1 showed the lessons he has learned from last year, and he thought discretion was the better form of valour in settling for a 36 points haul from his home round. The form of van der Mark certainly buoyed the home crowd, and whilst he is still searching for a first Dutch WorldSBK win, even though many thought it would come at his home race, he is clearly on the verge of that success.