WSBK – Pilots rediscover Assen –

Pilots rediscover Assen

WSBK - Pilots rediscover Assen -

The Netherlands will host the ninth round of the World Superbike this weekend. And even if the "Cathedral of the motorcycle" has lost its splendor during its winter modification, the three races on Sunday promise to be fierce…. Appetizer.

The Superbike and Supersport riders are getting ready to ride for the first time on the new Dutch track. Amputated by a third of its length, the track has lost a little of its presence: the north loop is only an appendage, a "roundabout" that many pilots already curse (read)…

Others are wiser, like Noriyuki Haga: "it doesn’t bother me at all: the layout is the same for all the pilots, we just have to go on it and run"… A philosophy that also applies to the weather, deemed uncertain … While the best wins !

And for now, the best driver on the field is precisely him: Haga! Boosted during the last event at Brands Hatch (read), Yamaha’s n ° 1 is certainly one of the favorites this weekend.

Because the Japanese are used to the second half of the season "guns": in 2004, he scored 180 points against 119 in the first half. And last year, 183 against 88! But even at this rate, Bayliss will be difficult to dethrone … The Japanese have therefore decided not to put pressure on themselves unnecessarily: "I don’t think about the championship: I just want to run and win as many races as possible !"

The fact remains that after a victory, two third places and a fourth, Haga is the driver who scored the most points in the last two events, tied with his compatriot Yukio Kagayama. And the Suzuki rider counts too "end the season well".

Yukio is more acerbic than Nitro Nori about the new first section which he likes "too many slow turns. I like big fast turns", complains the Japanese! A point of view that his teammate Troy Corser completely shares…

And the reigning world champion speaks knowingly, since he had the opportunity to complete two laps in the car. An appetizer amply sufficient to allow him to note that "the track is totally different now and the first five or six corners will ruin the fluid nature of the circuit !".

Fourth in the provisional standings, Corser is 26 points behind Toseland and has not found his way back to the podium for eight races … Worse, Troy has never won a race at Assen! Suddenly, the "old" crocodile is satisfied with "aim for the podium"and not the victory this weekend.

As for James Toseland, he is only 11 points behind Haga, with whom he shared the two podiums at Assen in 2005 behind the invincible Vermeulen (read). Three weeks ago, on his land, the Briton could not win either. He nevertheless set his very first fastest time in the race – after 134 participations! -, thus attesting to its good form.

Of course, we are waiting for the leader of the championship Troy "Superman" Bayliss, who will run after a 10th – and 11th? – victory this year. But we will also be watching closely Alex Barros, whose clearly claimed goal is to "become world champion in 2007"…

"We are well prepared and our goal is to improve our 5th place overall", also warns his team manager Klaus Klaffenbock whose colt, with 166 points, is 27 points behind Corser…

But the Brazilian has had very irregular results so far. "They changed the track a bit and I think I preferred the old track", admits Alex who will seek despite everything to gain his first victory in World Superbike. Isn’t the Brazilian hare one of the few riders in the world to have stood up to Rossi ?

Barros will however have to protect his rear well: Andrew Pitt is only 9 points and is as ambitious as the Honda rider. Especially since the Australian has already climbed the top step of the podium this season, his second in Superbike..

More difficult to follow but not lacking in suspense, the battle in the peloton will also be tough. We especially hope to see Regis Laconi (14th with 72 points) confirm his encouraging last performance (4th at Brands Hatch, read). Sebastien Gimbert could also improve his best performance of the year: 12th in Imola and Misano…

Supersport side, the program could not be more enticing: with four races to go, Kevin Curtain managed to reset the counters to zero by recording the same number of points as the leader Sebastien Charpentier. !

The Australian’s teammate, Broc Parkes, is not to be outdone as he is only 12 points behind the leaders. And the constructors’ championship is just as tight, Honda having just 9 points ahead of Yamaha, whose "third generation" R6 has won the last three poles and the last three victories. !

Whether in the hands of Curtain, Parkes or even the "beginner" Viziello, the little Yamaha now seems to be on point and is giving the CBR a hard time. But we are also witnessing this season the rise of Kenan Sufuoglu, Charpentier’s Turkish teammate who has climbed the podium in the last two races….

General Seb, still handicapped last month by his fall during the Pirelli private tests in June, should return to great shape and will be able to make Honda’s colors shine more … Unless the French rookie Yoan Tiberio does charge !

Finally, we will closely follow the performance of the Kawasaki de Chambon and Berger, the Yam de Checa, Enjolras and Duterne and the Honda de Leblanc and Lagrive….

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