Category Archives: Teams

Signatech Alpine Matmut doubles up: victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the LMP2 world title!

At the end of a challenging edition, the Signatech Alpine Matmut team has won the LMP2 category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the third time in four years.

With eight podium results in as many races, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet have taken the second crown for Alpine in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

This resounding victory concludes a week that included the presentation of the new Alpine A110S.

Sticking to tradition, the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans began at 15:00 on Saturday and Nicolas Lapierre immediately picked up one position to move up to second place in the LMP2 category.

Staying out longer that his most serious rivals, the Frenchman was in the lead on the eighth lap. Once his first double-stint was done, the Signatech Alpine Matmut driver completed a triple-stint while trying to contain the n°26 G-Drive, whose return was eased by a more aggressive strategy. 

This duel continued when the driving duties were handed over to Pierre Thiriet, then André Negrão, who got into the car at the beginning of hour six. 

As the sun set, the yellow flags, slow zones and neutralizations multiplied as it began to sprinkle at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The Brazilian drove brilliantly in the tricky conditions to put the Alpine A470 into the lead again before his rival answered back, on fresher tyres.

Following a pit stop affected by another LMP2 competitor at the one-third mark of the race, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet took over to chase down the leaders.

The French had his share of misadventures during the night as two neutralizations in his first two stints radically changed the physiognomy of the race. The safety car intervened between the n°26 and n°36 Alpine A470 costing Les Bleus a minute in the first intervention, then precious seconds in the second safety car period.

Relegated to two and a half minutes from the leaders, Pierre Thiriet completed his triple-stint before letting André Negrão and Nicolas Lapierre go on the attack before dawn. While they made up a minute in the early hours of Sunday morning, their efforts were annihilated by the accident of the n°31 Dragonspeed, which brought the safety car out yet again. 

In the aftermath, the team adjusted its strategy by sending Pierre Thiriet out seven hours from the finish. The team’s determination and perseverance finally paid dividends when the leaders remained in the pits just after 9:00. The Alpine A470 moved into the lead with a one lap advantage from its closest rival and last challenger still in the title fight. 

From then on, the trio continued to set competitive times while managing their lead and equipment.

After the last stint of André Negrão, Pierre Thiriet went back out to reach his minimum time in the car before Nicolas Lapierre got back in to finish the race.

In his final race with Alpine, Nico took the chequered flag to take his third win at Le Mans in four participations with the French brand. 

This victory is also the third for Signatech Alpine Matmut at Le Mans, following its successes in 2016 and 2018, and the fifth podium in the LMP2 category since 2014. And this triumph ahead of the n°38 Jackie Chan DC Racing sees Alpine score its second LMP2 title in the FIA World Endurance Championship, following its 2016 crown… A crown the team will be ready to defend at the opening round of the 2019-2020 season on September 1st at Silverstone!

Quotes

Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut

“I said we were ready and we truly were. The competition was just as ready, which made for a very intense start to the race with a much faster pace than usual. This promised a long and fantastic battle, where we were not surprised to find ourselves mixing it up with the main contenders for the win and the title. We were very tightly bunched just until night fall, then, yet again, Le Mans chose its champion. You have to be ready and present in these conditions. We were in every aspect: the car stayed out of the gravel areas, we made the right choices, had great communication and we adapted. This is the key for an event of this stature and we really enjoyed ourselves. This victory has a special meaning compared to last year’s, because we were able to celebrate together right after the race and we got to hear the French national anthem on the podium. We will have to quickly get back to business because the next challenge, the prologue, will be here before you know it!”

Nicolas Lapierre

“What a day for us and the entire team! It was essential and crucial in the outcome of the championship and this legendary race that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We worked for more than a year to attain both of these objectives. We decided to give priority to the world championship title, but once the race started, we fought with all we had against G-Drive. They were not a championship rival, but we had to respect this legendary race by fighting for the victory. Our work paid off and the win clinched the title for us. It is a very big mix of emotions, but also satisfaction of a job accomplished in a race that was very hard and competitive. For me personally, this is my last race with Alpine. Maybe we will reunite in the future, but it was important to finish the way we did and we can’t be anything but proud of this team and everything we have achieved together.” 

André Negrão 

“The top step of the podium is truly a magical place and I am proud to be there with Alpine and the entire team. Not only did we win the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second straight year, we also won the championship. I am in heaven and I think I am the happiest among us today. I have just won my first title and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I want to give a humungous thank you to the Signatech Alpine Matmut team, to Philippe as well as Alpine and everyone that has believed in me, supported me and allowed us to achieve this wonderful double together.”

Pierre Thiriet

“It was a crazy race. The battle was really intense and contested, but we expected it against quality competitors who were clean and fair on the track. I really want underscore the job the team has done in preparing for every round and that was clear this weekend. There were no issues with the car and none of the three of us made a driver error. I think that is the key to succeeding in LMP2 as the smallest trouble forces you to push to get back in the race. We are a very close-knit family with an excellent team spirit. It is an important aspect and it makes us twice as happy today. Nico and André did an incredible job, as did the entire team. We were inspired by the huge support from the fans and media for Alpine and its team that had two French drivers. I want to give a shout out to Jota. They have been outstanding adversaries during this fantastic season. Their speed pushed us to progress and raise our game and it was an honour to battle against them!”

24 Hours of Le Mans – LMP2
1. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 368 laps
2. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 +1 lap
3. TDS Racing n°28 + 2 laps
4. United Autosports n°22 +3 laps
5. IDEC Sport n°48 +4 laps 
6. G-Drive Racing n°26 +4 laps
7. Duqueine Engineering n°30 + 5 laps 
8. Panis Barthez Compétition n°23 + 6 laps 
9. Graff n°39 + 6 laps
10. Algarve Pro Racing n°25 +11 laps

Teams FIA Endurance Trophy LMP2
1. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 – 181 points
2. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 – 166 points
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 – 138 points
4. DragonSpeed n°31 – 117 points
5. Larbre Competition n°50 – 85 points
6. Racing Team Nederland n°29 – 85 points
7. TDS Racing n°28 – 66 points

Endurance Oschersleben Eight Hours

New leader

Second in the Eight Hours of Oschersleben, the Kawasaki team has recovered first place in the overall classification of the Endurance World Championship. The fight for the title will be in one month on the Suzuka circuit.

Forced to retire after less than two hours of racing in Slovakia, Gilles Stafler’s team-mates were eager to redeem themselves for the Eight Hours of Oschersleben, penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship. The Kawasaki riders were up to the task. In the free practice sessions, Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa already stood out by taking pole position. “Even if it is not decisive for an endurance race, the first place on the starting grid now includes five points for the team who win it,” recalled Gilles Stafler. And when you’re ten points behind the new leader, namely the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), since the last race in Slovakia, it’s worth making the effort during the qualifying session. Then they had to transform the test results into race results. Which Guarnoni and Nigon did brilliantly. The two Frenchmen rode the stints one after the other. A strategy that paid off as they managed to get the Kawasaki # 11 onto the second step of the podium. “This weekend David was as fast as Jeremy and Erwan, but his riding style is unfortunately more fuel-hungry,” explained the boss of the SRC. “If had rode the race it would have cost us an extra refueling break and we couldn’t afford it.” In Germany, the goal of the Kawasaki team was to try to recover the lead in the championship from the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT). “When Gregg Black fell, we didn’t take any chances, we copied Suzuki’s style of racing,” Stafler continued. Only tenth under the checkered flag, the crew of SERT handed over the first place in the overall classification to the SRC Kawasaki team. The boss of the Greens is now hoping to take part in the final of the championship at Suzuka to win the world title, backed by his five-point lead.

MotoGP World Championship – Italian Grand Prix

Márquez makes it

In the wake of his victory at Le Mans, Álex Márquez won a second race in a row, this time in Italy. A series that has allowed the Spaniard to return to second place in the overall standings, two points behind the leader.

Álex Márquez is definitely back on track. No matter he had not won since the Japanese Grand Prix 2017, in France and Italy the former Moto3 world champion chalked up two wins in a row. In 2014, then on the road to his title, he achieved the same performance by winning in Barcelona and Assen. “I rode the race I needed,” said the Marc VDS rider. “I was smart enough to wait, and managed the situation by letting Lüthi and Schrotter ride in front at the start of the race. And when I overtook them I got back into the pace I had this morning in the warm-up. The strategy worked. Little by little I consolidated my lead. I am very pleased because the team has done a great job again. Last year we had trouble adjusting the bike to this circuit. This year we’ve had two wins in a row, but we must not slacken. Let’s continue to work like we’re doing because the championship is still very long.” Victim of a collision at the start of the race with Lecuona and Di Giananntonio, Vierge managed to climb back from from sixteenth to twelfth place. “I lost my pace in the second part of the race,” lamented Márquez’ teammate. Tech 3 side, Philipp Oettl and Marco Bezzecchi had dribbling problems and had to settle for 21e and 23th positions on the finish line. In MotoGP, Oliveira and Syahrin were no happier. The Portuguese rider suffered from a lack of power control and finished sixteenth, while the Malaysian, who showed encouraging signs of progress during the practice test sessions, had to give up after several heavy slides forward that put an end to his ambitions for this race.

The Championship

With two wins in a row, Álex Márquez returns to second place in the overall Moto2 standings just two points behind leader Lorenzo Baldassari. Xavi Vierge remains in eleventh position. For Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl, the points counter still reads zero. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has lost a place, slipping from eighteenth to nineteenth. Hafizh Syarhin has lost two and is now twenty-third.

MotoGP World Championship – French Grand Prix

Márquez wins in Le Mans

Deprived of victory since October 2017, Álex Márquez found the road back to success at the Grand Prix de France held on the Bugatti circuit.

“I’m so happy! It tastes wonderful to win again after waiting so long.”

At the finish of the fifth race of the season, Álex Márquez was thrilled. Not having won since the Japanese Grand Prix in 2017, the former Moto3 world champion returned to Le Mans and got right back on the right track thanks to a judicious choice of rear tire on the starting grid.

“A team victory that rewards the work we’ve all been doing since the winter tests,” said Márquez.

Qualified on the first row of the starting grid, the Catalan took control of the race in the fourth lap. And then never let go.

“I had seven good first laps and from then on I managed to stay focused. I tried not to think too much, just to ride well. “

Fifth under the checkered flag, Xavi Vierge was also satisfied with his Grand Prix de France. “We’re making progress each time,” grinned the Spaniard.

“I hope I’ll be riding to win very soon.”

On the Tech 3 side, Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl were eighteenth and nineteenth, just ahead of Jorge Martin, another KTM rider. Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira, Hervé Poncharal’s two MotoGP riders, both scored points, finishing in fourteenth and fifteenth positions. A first this season for the French team.

The Championship

Thanks to his victory in the Sarthe region, Álex Márquez has climbed back to fourth place in the overall standings, just fourteen points behind leader Lorenzo Baldassari, who fell in Le Mans. Xavi Vierge has moved up from fourteenth to eleventh place. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has slipped to eighteenth place while Hafizh Syahrin, who pocketed his first two points of the season, has entered the standings in twenty-first place.

Endurance – Eight Hours of Slovakia Ring

Tough retirement

Three weeks after winning the 24 Heures Motos on the Le Mans circuit, the Kawasaki SRC team was forced to retire in Slovakia. David Checa, Jeremy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon are now in second place in the EWC Championship.

For the team of Gilles Stafler, the races follow on from each other but they don’t look like. Super winners in the Sarthe region of France, David Checa, Jeremy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon had to throw in the towel after less than two hours of racing on the Slovakia Ring. In practice, the Kawasaki # 11 qualified for fifth place on the starting grid. “The conditions were very difficult,” explained David Checa. “With rain, cold, and a blacktop that constantly changed from one minute to the next… You had to be on the track with the right tires at the right time.” Starting in the leading group, Jeremy Guarnoni rode a good first relay. “The weather was a lot warmer at the start of the race,” said the Kawasaki rider. “I quickly understood that the first hours would be harder for us than for our direct opponents. So I finished my first relay on a regular pace but without taking any risks. We were determined to bide our time, knowing that we would be much better at mid-race.” That was the plan. Unfortunately, the Kawasaki SRC team never had the time to carry it out. Shortly after taking over the handlebars of number 11 from Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa had to return to his team’s garage. “We had a problem with the engine that we’ll have to analyze when we return to the workshop,” commented Gilles Stafler. “But that’s racing; you have to know how to accept this kind of setback.” Despite the retirement, the Kawasaki team retains second place in the overall standings just ten points behind the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT). Before the final of the EWC Championship in Japan at the end of July, the next race in Germany will be decisive for Gilles Stafler’s staff.

Superbike World Championship – Italy

Rea rides to victory

Regularly beaten by Alvaro Bautista since the start of the season, Jonathan Rea road back to victory in Italy, clocking up his first two wins of the season on the Imola circuit.

Not quite deliverance, but Jonathan Rea made no attempt to hide his joy on the Imola circuit. Tired of finishing behind Alvaro Bautista’s Ducati since the opening of the championship in Australia, the four-time world champion was eager to react in Italy. He did it by brilliantly riding his way to victory, with a first success on Saturday and another on Sunday morning in the ten-lap sprint. “I feel better and better on the bike and we were really on the ball this weekend,” commented Jonathan Rea. “I only regret the third race had to be cancelled, but the weather conditions hardly left any choice to the organizers. I am very happy to have won in Italy.”
As in the Netherlands, the schedule for the weekend had to been shortened, this time because of the rain. Whatever, Imola is definitely a good track for Kawasaki.
In 2010, Tom Sykes won the Japanese brand’s first pole position on this circuit. And since 2013, Kawasaki have chalked up nine victories on their kill count. This year, Toprak Razgatlioglu added his touch by making to the podium on Saturday afternoon before finishing seventh on Sunday morning. Leon Haslam came in fifth and sixth, while in Supersport, Hikari Okubo posted the best result of his career with a well-earned fourth-place finish. In the fight for the podium, Lucas Mahias unfortunately fell after hitting an opponent who had just missed a gear in front of him. The former world champion was nevertheless able to start off again, making it to the finish in eighth place.

The Championship

Regularly present on the podium since the first race at Phillip Island, Jonathan Rea is still in second place overall and has even benefited from his first two wins of the season to reduce Alvaro Bautista’s lead to forty-three points. Leon Haslam stays in fifth place while Toprak Razgatlioglu has moved up to eighth place. In Supersport, Hikari Okubo has also wins a place, and is now fourth with fifty points while Lucas Mahias remains seventh with forty points.

MotoGP World Championship – Spanish Grand Prix

Vierge in the top six

Unlucky since the beginning of the season, in Jerez, Xavi Vierge clocked up his best result since joining the team Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS. Sixth to take the checkered flag, the Spaniard was delighted to have finally started his season.

Victim of a mechanical problem during the warm-up lap in Argentina, snared at the start of the Grand Prix of the Americas by a competitor, until this weekend Xavi Vierge had only completed the first race held in Qatar. “The lack of track time has made us fall behind on the development and understanding of the bike,” laments the Catalan. In Jerez, Vierge finally managed to finish a race on a second weekend without any hitches. Twelfth on the grid, he made a nice comeback in the race to finish sixth. “It’s not the kind of result we’re riding for, but given what we’ve been through in the last two GPs, I’m pretty happy with that result. We’re moving in the right direction, we just have to keep on working as we are doing now to make up for lost time.” While he was hoping to win after qualifying in second place, Álex Márquez fell coming out of the first bend when Remy Gardner fell in front of him. Although he had time to bring his motorcycle back to the garage for the mechanics to get it back into working order before the second start, the Spaniard had to leave from the pit lane with no hope of success. “I rode to the finish for the team and the fans,” he confided after finishing twenty-fourth. “I am very disappointed because we deserved a lot better. But that’s part of racing, we just have to accept it.” Marco Bezzecchi was also one of the collateral victims of Gardner’s downfall. The Italian, however, was able to restart from the grid and finished twenty-second ahead of teammate Philipp Oettl. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin in Jerez had new chassis parts provided by the KTM factory. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough time to measure their impact and finished eighteenth and nineteenth, respectively.

The Championship

Unable to make it to the points, Álex Márquez slipped to sixth place in the Moto2 championship on the evening of the Spanish Grand Prix and is now thirty-nine points behind the leader Lorenzo Baldassari. Xavi Vierge has moved up four places. He is now fourteenth with sixteen points on the scoreboard. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has dropped back to seventeenth place.

A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM FOR THE C3 WRC AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH THIRD IN ARGENTINA!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another heroic performance to claim their fourth podium of the season and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s fifth in 2019, after a nail-biting finish on the final stage!

After a ten-second penalty was handed to their direct rivals for the final podium place by the rally organisers late last night for failing to follow the racing route on one of Saturday’s stages, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went into today’s final leg in third position. They held a slim 6.0s lead as they prepared to tackle the very rough stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare. Displaying their famous neversay-die attitude, the six-time world champions put up a determined fight in the C3 WRC, whilst not forgetting the importance of ensuring they secured big points for the championship. Their efforts were rewarded in the end: victory on the Power Stage, their third stage win of the weekend, saw them hang onto the final podium spot by just 1.4s!

Sébastien and Julien’s third position, combined with the five bonus points earned on the Power Stage, means they consolidated their hold on second place in the world championship, ten points behind the leaders. This is their fourth podium this year, after winning in Monte-Carlo and Mexico, and finishing as runners-up in Corsica. It is also the fifth time in as many events this season that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished in the top three.

Despite the difficult, changeable grip conditions, particularly on the opening day after the heavy rain that fell prior to the event, the French crew made an excellent start, consistently among the frontrunners to end the leg second overall, just 11.9s behind the leaders. Day two proved to be trickier. Confused about which route to take on the morning loop (SS11) by a gate left open – whereas the roadbook indicated it was meant to be closed – Sébastien and Julien hesitated and ended up damaging the power steering of their C3 WRC when they hit the gate. They therefore dropped back to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium. They then fought back like the champions they are on the second loop, claiming two stage wins on their way to fourth overall, keeping them in with a good chance of finishing on the podium going into the final day.

After making a decent start with a fifth fastest time on the rally’s first proper stage (SS2), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately then held up by a puncture immediately afterwards (SS4) when they hit a bank following a crest. The Finnish pair were gradually upping their pace on what was only their second appearance in Argentina – as could be seen in their promising split times – when a tyre came loose following a puncture, rolling the car (SS8) and forcing them to retire from the rally on the opening leg.

Competing in the WRC2 Pro class in a C3 R5, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed their second consecutive category win after Rally Sweden, whilst also amassing a handsome tally of ten stage wins from the overall total of seventeen contested. Yet further evidence of the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product on the very demanding Argentinian roads, where the C3 R5 was competing for the first time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “It’s a pretty good result in terms of points, but we can’t be pleased with our out-and-out performance level. There are some conditions, like those we saw in Mexico or here on the second runs, where we are fairly competitive. But we have to improve when there is less grip or when the road is more technical. I’m pleased to see our persistence rewarded, because once again this weekend we pushed as hard as possible right to the end.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “Despite not knowing the roads here particularly well, I was obviously hoping for a better outcome from this round. But after we had picked up a puncture, I was caught out when the tyre suddenly came loose. Thiscaused the car to understeer, we hit a bank at the side of the road and rolled the car. Obviously, I’m sorry for the team, but after a few days’ rest with my family, Janne and I will back raring to go and have the best Rally Chile possible, where we’ll all be on an equal footing in terms of experience.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How do you assess your performance in Argentina?

It was clearly a tough weekend, one that we can’t be satisfied with. The points for third place and from the Power Stage are fairly positive as regards the championship, but we lacked pace on these roads. The result is down in large part to Sébastien and Julien’s relentless commitment and persistence. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne deserved at least to make it to the end of the rally, in order to keep adding to their experience. Perhaps in future they will need to manage a puncture differently, but we are still 200% behind them so that they can finally get back on the right track in Chile.

How are you intending to tackle the transition to Rally Chile?

First of all, we’ll be shipping the backup C3 WRC out to Chile for Esapekka and Janne, so that they will have a completely new car for the event. Although we have relatively little time, we are also going to get to work on improving the C3 WRC as much as possible in clearly identified conditions, and define the best set-up for the rally. It’s a new event for everyone, and will also be fairly different to what we experienced this weekend. In any case, we are all fired up to keep fighting as hard as possible for the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Jean-Luc Gaucher, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Chief mechanic, was the man in charge of coordinating Saturday’s mid-leg service, during which the Citroën mechanics repaired the stricken number 1 C3 WRC. He told us about how they took just forty minutes to repair the car’s power steering, broken by the French crew in a minor impact.

“Actually, we had a whole load of parts to replace. The entire power steering, of course, but also the gearbox, the hydraulic unit and the clutch. Generally speaking, these sorts of repairs need careful planning beforehand, so that everyone knows precisely what order to do things in and so that everything goes smoothly once you get started. Given that we only had one car left in the race at that point, we could have all eight of our mechanics involved, but on the other hand, we were limited by the physical space to four people working on the front on the car, in the critical area. Although we train for this kind of situation, it’s always satisfying to see things work out when it’s for real. It was important to get the car working again as quickly as possible, because when you work on the hydraulics, the start-up procedure takes quite a bit of time, but that’s precisely what we managed to do. After a long, difficult service like this, there’s always a niggling fear that you might have missed something, so it was nice – and reassuring – for all of us to see Sébastien and Julien grab two consecutive stage wins straight afterwards!”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:20:54.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:04.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.7
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:57.3
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14:24.8
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +14:28.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 100 points
3. Ott Tänak – 82 points 4. Kris Meeke – 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 30 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 28 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
9. Dani Sordo – 26 points
10. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 157 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 120 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 117 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 78 points

Superbike World Championship – Netherlands

Kawasaki leads Honda

Thanks to second and third place finishes by Jonathan Rea in the Netherlands, Kawasaki has passed Honda in the number of rostrums recorded in the Superbike World Championship.

The vagaries of the weather somewhat disrupted the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship at the Assen circuit in the Netherlands. The snow and a chill wind forced the organizers to postpone the first race scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The Sprint of the Superpole was cancelled and the starts of both races were given on Sunday, the grid for both heats being based on the classification after the free practice sessions. Qualified in eighth place, Jonathan Rea only took two laps to climb back to third place in the first race. He kept it until the chequered flag by fighting it out with Michael Van der Mark. In the second race, the Kawasaki rider completed five laps in the lead before being overtaken by Alvaro Bautista. Second at the finish, Rea gave Kawasaki their 393th rostrum, allowing the Japanese brand to pass in front of Honda and climb to the second place in the manufacturers’ championship having recorded the greatest number of rostrums in the Superbike World Championship. “With both races organized on Sunday, we had an old-fashioned weekend,” grinned the quadruple world champion.I had a good bike and I was able to fight on to the end of both races. I had a good grip despite the cold; it was only in the last laps that the bike became a little more difficult to ride.” Fifth in the free practice sessions, Leon Haslam was fifth in the first race after a grand fight with Alex Lowes. A tire problem in the second race then forced him to settle for eighth place. Despite a heavy fall during the practice test sessions, Toprak Razgatlioglu managed to finish ninth in both races. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias was fifth and Hikari Okubo seventh.

The Championship

Of the eleven races since the start of the season, Jonathan Rea has finished ten in second place and one in third place. Well anchored in second place in the MotoGP Championship, the Kawasaki rider is now fifty-five points behind leader Alvaro Bautista. Fifth overall, Leon Haslam has so far scored 93 points. Toprak Razgatlioglu has gained a position, climbing to eleventh place overall. In Supersport, Hikari Okubo has slipped into fifth place while Lucas Mahias has climbed to seventh place.

Superbike World Championship – Spain

No Rest for Rea

As in Australia and Thailand, Jonathan Rea was unable to beat Alvaro Bautista as the championship returned to Europe. The Kawasaki rider nevertheless won three second places, keeping in touch with the leader in the standings.

The races link up and look alike for the two strongmen in this start of the season, the transfer from MotoGP Alavaro Bautista, and Jonathan Rea the quadruple Superbike world champion and titleholder. Behind the handlebars of a Kawasaki currently under-performing compared with the brand-new Ducati Panigale V4, the Brit still has hopes for the future. For the first event held on European soil, he also clocked up three second places despite some complications in the free practice sessions and a start on Saturday afternoon from the fourth row of the grid. Although he never crossed swords with Bautista, the Kawasaki rider battled hard with Chaz Davies on the other Ducati and Alex Lowes on his Yamaha. “Once again we couldn’t hope for more this weekend,” sighed Rea. “Apart from the small mistake I made during the practice test sessions that forced me to start way back, we did the best we could with the bike. On Saturday afternoon, I even managed to come back to second place after only four laps.” For the record, that day, the Brit became the fifth rider in World Superbike history to reach the milestone of two hundred and fifty starts. “On Sunday morning the sprint was not easy because it was cool and we missed grip in the last few laps,” he continued. “That’s what made me cautious for Sunday afternoon’s race. I spared my tires in the first kilometres to be able to attack in the last laps.” And once again take the lead over Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes. Leon Haslam had trouble in Spain adjusting his bike for the braking phases. Ninth on Saturday, the Kawasaki rider set the record straight the next day with a seventh and fourth place finish. Toprak Razgatlioglu was seventh and tenth before being forced to retire on Sunday afternoon. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias and Hikari Okubo scored a hat trick taking seventh and eighth places.

The Championship

With three second places, Jonathan Rea scored another 49 points in Spain. Now in solid second place in the championship, the four-time world champion is only 39 points behind Alvaro Bautista. Behind them, Leon Haslam has moved up a place. The English rider is now fifth with 74 points. Toprak Razgatlioglu has slipped back to twelfth place. No change in Supersport: Lucas Mahias and Hikari Okubo are in fifth and ninth place respectively.