The Ten Kate team is driving home this weekend !
For its fifth round, the Mondial Superbike will stop at the TT circuit in Assen. Installed at the controls of the 1000 and 600 cc championships, the Ten Kate team will seek to shine in front of their public. Without forgetting the return of Charpentier !
Last year, the Dutch rain played a lot of tricks on the World Superbike riders (read). As a result, the Batavian event was brought forward this year in order to offer more stable weather conditions….
Fortunately, this should not change the spectacular aspect of this meeting eagerly awaited by the teams, and above all by the Superbike and Supersport teams of Ronald Ten Kate! Fifth round of the championship, the TT of Assen should provide us with the same doses of suspense, joy and surprises as the previous four…
Substantially altered over the past three years, the Assen route appears on satellite views of Google earth in its 2005 version. Since then, the north loop – located to the left of the image – has been largely atrophied to allow the creation of a parking lot and a new space for the public (read).
But if most pilots regret the disappearance of nearly a third of the track, the interest of the races has not suffered the same loss! To be convinced of this, just remember the 2006 events, marked by the unexpected victory of Chris Walker under the downpours of the first round and the meteoric rise of Fonsi Nieto – also on ZX-10R – during the second round disputed in the dry !
It is difficult, when talking about the excellent performances of the Kawasaki Ninja in 2006, not to expect a nice surprise from Regis Laconi this weekend! Confined to the background since the start of the season, the Meusien once finished on the podium in Assen: it was in 2004 on the handlebars of his Ducati 999 Fila.
Toseland wants to stay ahead
Leading the championship, James Toseland wants to continue his good streak: "since the start of the season, I have won one round per event", proudly recalls the British pilot !
This weekend at Assen will be very special for James, given "that it’s more or less a home event for me, with all the English fans who come here and obviously the fact that it is my team’s national race".
For the occasion, Ronald Ten Kate admits to having invited "400 people on the day of the race, including the wives and children of our teammates". All will be there to celebrate the excellent start to the season of their n ° 52 driver, who will do everything to"maintain and extend its lead in the championship" !
But Max Biaggi does not hear it that way: second in the provisional ranking, the Italian intends to add a fifth world star to his list this year. !
Winner of the very first race of the season in Qatar (read), the Roman Emperor is regularly at the forefront. But he will have to quickly find his way back to the top step of the podium if he wants to collect points effectively at Toseland..
But this weekend, the famous Suzuki n ° 3 will first have to relearn the Dutch route that he has not covered since his disappointing race in 2005 on his official RCV (read). At the end of the practice of this race, Max was even fined $ 6,000 for behavior "irresponsible"… But this is ancient history !
Japanese rider Noriyuki Haga will also have an interest in wiping out his past, because the 2006 Assen event did not smile at Nitro Nori at all: "
in the first run I had a 20 second lead when I fell in the pouring rain. Then during the second, I was mown down by someone else from the first corner ", bitterly evokes n ° 41.
Fortunately, his second and third places in Spain (read) have enough to make him approach this new stage calmly: "Usually I’m only happy when I win, but my results in Valencia were good given the difficult conditions.".
More important, as the gap between Nori and James is "remains the same", the Japanese managed to get back on the second man, Max … With 50 points available in the event of a double, the championship therefore remains very open !
Bayliss no longer has a choice
In addition to the talent of these three drivers and the performances extremely close to their machines, the race for the title is spiced up by the misadventures of the reigning world champion Troy Bayliss.
Absent from the debates in Losail then dominating on "his" Phillip Island track, the Australian made a mistake on the technical layout of Donington Park before regaining some semblance of form in Valencia, despite the recent loss of his right little finger…
On the undulating track of Assen, the n ° 21 of the Ducati team will have to show tenacity not to let his opponents escape. For Bayliss, who are 61 points behind Toseland, the title race is increasingly difficult: "we are a little forced to have a perfect year now", remark Bayliss.
His compatriot Troy Corser is in a similar situation: fourth in the championship 50 points behind the leader, the Australian crocodile must imperatively score big points to hang up the top of the provisional classification…
"It is time for me to get back on the first step of the podium and this event would be a good opportunity to do so", impatiently the No. 11 Yamaha and former Suzuki rider, who shares with his new team-mate Haga the sad memory of having fallen during the two Dutch races last year. !
Big regulars of falls especially in MotoGP – Herve Poncharal of the Tech3 team still remembers it! -, Ruben Xaus will try to keep his great form: impressive in Donington, winner of the first race in Valencia and fourth in the second, the Spaniard has enjoyed significant media exposure, "which delights him because it shows that the popularity of SBK is increasing", he confides.
Outsiders ready for anything
However, Ruben knows that it is out of the question to rest on his laurels and leaves for Assen determined to improve on his good result from last year (fifth dry). Because taking advantage this year of the traction control on his 999, Xaus considers that he will be able to fight again in the middle of the official pilots "for the podium" !
To this group of particularly uplifted pilots will naturally be added the horde of teammates eager for recognition, glory and points! Lorenzo Lanzi in particular, mounted on the podium only once during the first race at Losail, will seek to prove that he deserves his place within the official structure of Ducati Corse when Xaus is illustrated on the handlebars of a 999 "2006 model"…
Roberto Rolfo, who rides the same CBR1000RR as James Toseland, is currently only 9th in the championship and is more than 100 points behind his leader. As for Fonsi Nieto, whose score has remained unchanged for three races, he could well find a smile when he returns to the scene of his greatest achievement in 2006, even if his main concern is not the track but the premature wear of his Pirelli tires…
Finally Yukio Kagayama, who has already suffered his share of injuries this year, will seek to ward off bad luck: "my goal is to qualify correctly, to be present among the best guys and to score many points", he explains very clearly. And the Japanese, fourth in the dry race last year, has the means to achieve his ambitions…
Three Ten Kate in Supersport !
Supersport side, we hope that Sunday’s show will equal that of two weeks ago! Animated by Fujiwara (n ° 21) then by Nannelli (n ° 69), the Valencia race was like the start of the season: explosive! And everything suggests that the next one will be of the same ilk…
Certainly, Kevin Curtain, vice-world champion in the 600cc, will not take the start. The Australian is not even sure he will be able to participate in the Monza race 15 days later, his thigh having been cut 20 cm by his footrest during his last fall: "muscles are not like bones, we cannot speed up their healing", regrets n ° 11.
But Kevin will be replaced by his old friend, Steve Martin! Joined the SBK World Cup at the start of the year with the D.F.X.Trem team and then excluded from the competition for budgetary reasons, Steve will be keen to prove that he has not lost any of his talent, just like a certain Andrew Pitt…
Replacing our national Sebastien Charpentier two weeks ago, Andrew Pitt brilliantly showed that his potential was intact by placing third in the Valencia race. Removed from MotoGP by the financial worries of the Ilmor team, Andrew will benefit from a new round of the merry-go-round despite Charpentier’s comeback !
"I hope we will see a podium entirely composed of Ten Kate Hannspree", takes to dreaming the n ° 15 whose mission will be to support the two titular pilots of the team: Sofuoglu and Charpentier.
Charpentier is back !
The Turkish will be the big favorite: he has three wins and a second place this year – in four races! – and won the Assen race last year … Nevertheless his teammate, General Seb, is far from admitting defeat for Sunday as for the rest of the season.
Lost in 16th place in the provisional ranking, the Charentais still firmly believes in his chances: "the championship is long and I will do everything in my power to keep the title", insists Sebastien !
France will also be represented by Fabien Foret, currently second in the championship riding his ZX-6R, but still 44 points behind the leader. It will also be necessary to encourage the GMT94 team composed of Sebastien Gimbert and David Checa, without forgetting Yoann Tiberio, Gregory Leblanc and Julien Enjolras !
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