Round 3 of the World SuperBike FIM Championship was a cold and wet one as rain turned the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland into one big black slip-and-slide. Riders of all standings were sent skidding across the asphalt in the rain-drenched first race, allowing Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) to win his first ever World SuperBike race.
By Race 2, the rain had subsided and a much cleaner race ensued with Jonathan Rea (Honda) taking the checkers after a disappointing DNF in the first race.
SuperBike Race 1
In Race 1, regular pole-sitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) immediately took the lead while a number of riders struggled to keep their bikes glued to the track behind him. By Lap 12, however, he was forced to retire due to mechanical issues and Marco Melandri (BMW) took the lead. Melandri’s luck was short-lived and he soon lost control of his bike prompting a red-flag restart on Lap 14.
Riders were re-gridded according to their finishing order for a nine-lap restart that proved no less chaotic. Guintoli managed to shoot up from eighth to second, finally securing first when Ayrton Badovini (BMW) succumbed to the wet asphalt. The podium was dominated by Ducati in Race 1, with Davide Giugliano in second and Carlos Checa in third. A total of eight riders received DNFs in the first race, including Rea who injured his hand in a fall during the first lap of the restart.
SuperBike Race 2
The uncertain weather at Assen introduced another challenge in Race 2: choosing the right tires. When the rains failed to appear during the second race, Checa was forced to the pit in order to swap out his wets for slicks, landing him a 17th place finish.
Meanwhile Jakub Smrz (Ducati) took a blistering lead over Leon Haslam (BMW) and Tom Sykes in second and third respectively. Haslam would eventually be slowed down due to his deteriorating tires, but still manage fifth, just behind teammate, Melandri.
The early leading trio was supplanted by Rea, Guintoli, and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia), after Haslam and Sykes slowed and Smrz ran wide into nice long slide across the grass. Despite his injured hand, Rea dogged the now leading Guintoli and was able to pass him with three laps left to go, finishing in first with a 2.819 second lead. Laverty maintained a very tight lead over Melandri and Haslam to round out the podium.
And where was 2010 WSBK champion Max Biaggi during all this excitement? The Italian turned out a so-so 4-8 for the day which diminishes his overall points lead to just one over Checa.
In the SuperSport division, Lorenzo Lanzi (Honda) secured a victory in his debut race. His win at Assen places him sixth in the overall standings even though he missed the first two races of the season. Former SuperSport Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) turned up in second, followed by Vladimir Leonov – the first Russian to earn a SuperSport podium finish.
Two top riders, Sam Lowes (Honda) and Fabien Foret (Kawasaki), had difficulties managing the wet conditions resulting in DNFs. Foret is now tied with Sofuoglu for the points lead, while Lowes dropped to third.
The SuperStock contest was also cut short, but this time it was due to oil on the track rather than rain. Red-flagged in round 8, French rider Sylvain Barrier (BMW) found himself in first, with Barni Racing Team Italia teammates Lorenzo Savadori and Eddi La Marra in second and third respectively. After crashing out in the first lap, Fabio Massei (Honda) drops down to ninth in the standings.
EAB Ten Kate Junior Team rider Michael Van der Mark took first place in his home race leading Nacho Calero Perez (Yamaha) by almost five seconds. Things were much closer between second and third, with Duwelz Gauthier tailing Perez by just a hair. Ricardo Russo (Team Italia FMI) finished in fifth behind Egea Stephane and now ranks third (36 points) in the standings after Van der Mark (41 points) and Perez (40 points).
2012 World SuperBike FIM Championship Standings
- Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing 92 points
- Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 91
- Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing 79
- Sylvain Guintoli Effenbert Liberty Ducati 66
- Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad 66
- Jonathan Rea Honda WSBK 65
- Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad 58
- Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing 56
- Jakub Smrz Liberty Effenbert Ducati 39
- Davide Giugliano Althea Ducati 37
- Michel Fabrizio BMW Italia GoldBet 26
- Maxime Berger Effenbert Liberty Ducati 25
- Hiroshi Aoyama Honda WSBK 22
- Lorenzo Zanetti PATA Ducati 20
- Niccolo Canepa Red Devils Roma Ducati 20
- Joan Lascorz Kawasaki Racing 17
- Leon Camier Crescent Fixi Suzuki 14
- Ayrton Badovini BMW Italia GoldBet 11
- Leandro Mercado Pedercini Kawasaki 9
- David Salom Pedercini Kawasaki 9
- John Hopkins Crescent Fixi Suzuki 8
- Bryan Staring Pedercini Kawasaki 6
- Chaz Davies ParkinGO MTC Aprilia 2
- Josh Brookes Crescent Fixi Suzuki 1
- Mark Aitchison Grillini Progea BMW 1