Overall tricky weekend of inclement weather conditions in WorldSBK Netherlands

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Pata Prometeon Yamaha Riders in Podium Fights on Sunday in Assen
Andrea Locatelli and Jonathan Rea both leave the Dutch WorldSBK Round encouraged with their potential despite an overall tricky weekend of inclement weather conditions in the Netherlands.
Setting the stage for Race 2, the Superpole Race this morning was another chance for Rea to capitalise on his pole start position from Saturday and the #65 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK rider was right in the thick of the fight from start to finish – only dropping back to P5 on the penultimate lap and missing the podium by 0.5 of a second. The first fully-dry session of the weekend delivered the first of two incredibly thrilling WorldSBK races for the 56,000-strong crowd present today.
Making progress from P10 on the Superpole Race grid, Locatelli improved his prospects for Race 2 with a solid sixth-place finish behind his teammate – giving the Italian rider a chance to shine this afternoon.
Both Pata Prometeon Yamaha riders got away from the line well at the start of Race 2 to run 2-3 on the opening lap. Unfortunately, Rea found it difficult to use the R1’s strengths early on due to a harder tyre choice and was unable to use the benefits of the tyre in the second half of the race, after being taken down by a crashing Alex Lowes at Turn 1 on Lap 10.
Locatelli developed into one of the stars of Race 2, duelling with Yamaha compatriot Remy Gardner and keeping fans on the edge of their seats with decisive overtakes, as a group of seven riders came together from Lap 11 when rain drops stared to fall across the circuit. Coming though on both Toprak Razgatlioglu and Alvaro Bautista on Lap 12, he then took the lead on Lap 14 from Gardner and looked set to challenge for his first WorldSBK win right to the end. After Bautista fought back on Lap 15, a small mistake into Turn 1 while managing some inconsistency with his front brake caused Locatelli to go wide and lose a chance at a victory challenge. But, he was able to recover strongly to take back fifth position and was just a bike length away from P4.
With no racing scheduled for May, Pata Prometeon Yamaha have nearly eight weeks to continue working to fight for podiums and race wins. The team and Yamaha will complete two performance tests in the time between now and Round 4 of the 2024 FIM World Superbike Championship, one each at Cremona and Misano late next month.
WorldSBK – Superpole Race Results
WorldSBK – Race 2 Results
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: 5th / Race 2: 5th
“It was not an easy Assen weekend! We were happy in the Superpole Race to recover good positions and to be close to fight for the podium, but in the chicane I saved a big, big crash which cost me this chance. In Race 2, the feeling with the R1 was honestly very good – everything was under control and I was fast, but I had some inconsistency with the front brake. We don’t know why and I never had a feeling like this before, now we have some time to check the data and understand. With this, when Bautista overtook me on the straight and we arrived at the first corner I was braking hard but felt nothing, so I go wide – here we lost the lead and the opportunity to make the podium. We didn’t do a bad job, but we were just really unlucky this weekend and not many points from yesterday. We need to keep working and believe in our package, and let’s see what we can do for the next race. We have time and some days of testing to get more confidence, look at everything and see where we can be for Misano. I want to say thanks to all of my guys and the whole team because they worked really very hard all weekend, it’s never easy in these conditions.”
Jonathan Rea – SPRC: 6th / Race 2: 19th
“It’s been my best weekend to date with Yamaha, so we have to take the positives! Slowly but surely I’m understanding the bike and how to take profit of the Yamaha R1’s strengths. I also never rode the bike in the wet, so that Superpole session was good and the result was great! All weekend it has not been the ideal conditions to prepare a race plan. We didn’t understand tyre choices from the start because we didn’t have many laps in the dry, so with experience and instinct made our decisions. Potentially in Race 2, I should have gone with the SCX rear tyre but I was nervous about degradation with the cold conditions. It would have been a gamble for me having not tried it all weekend, but I really struggled with the harder SC0 on the edge of the tyre to get the first part of acceleration off the corner. I felt myself that I was “there” but I ended up off the end of the front group and lost the tow to Iannone. Finally, Alex tried a pass but unfortunately crashed in front of me and down I went with him. Frustrating, because you don’t need to be kicked when you’re down – but we really can take some positives now. We have a couple of tests coming up and a lot of time for both myself to move forward and also for the team and Yamaha. It’s clear that we need to take a step forward but encouraging that both Loka and Remy had such strong races. We look forward to Misano now, it’s a track that I enjoy and we know the Yamaha R1 is quite strong there so hopefully more positives to come.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Prometeon Yamaha:
“Overall, Assen threw everything at the team and riders this weekend, but despite not achieving our targets in terms of outright results there were some great performances and very encouraging signs for the future. JR only missed the podium in the Superpole Race by half a second after a race-long battle, and Loka fought hard to come from P10 on the grid and improve his chances for Race 2 by finishing in sixth. So, we were well set up to attack the last race of the weekend! For Loka, his first win in WorldSBK could have arrived after leading towards the latter stages of the race, until a run-on in Turn 1 put an end to his chances of victory. He still fought back superbly well to claim fifth position – and one more corner would have meant P4. The potential to fight for the win was clearly there, so we will take that as a clear positive after a tough weekend. For JR, we will never know how Race 2 may have panned out with the harder compound tyre choice that could have started to work for him in the second half of the race, but unfortunately he was taken out of contention in the accident with Alex in Turn 1. The upside is that there were no injuries and Jonathan was at least able to finish the weekend by crossing the line at the chequered flag. We have two tests before we restart the race season again in Misano, so we will be looking to use those to maximum benefit and come back swinging in Italy.”
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