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World king Jonathan Rea aiming to enhance his peerless Assen TT record

By Paul Lindsay

Published 14/04/2016

Happy hunting ground: Jonathan Rea has seven victories at Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, more than anyone else in the World Superbike series
Happy hunting ground: Jonathan Rea has seven victories at Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, more than anyone else in the World Superbike series
Jonathan Rea

Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is the series' most successful competitor at Assen's TT Circuit, the venue for round four of this year's championship on Saturday and Sunday.

The factory Kawasaki No.1 took both race triumphs 12 months ago in the Netherlands, which raised his World Superbike win tally at the circuit to an unprecedented seven.

The Ulsterman has three wins, two seconds and a third-place finish to his name so far as he defends his title this season on the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R, affording him a 26-point lead in the championship standings.

But he knows all too well that his team-mate Tom Sykes and Aruba.it Ducati's Chaz Davies - a double winner last time out in Spain - will be no pushovers.

Speaking before leaving for the Netherlands from his base on the Isle of Man, Rea said of the upcoming weekend: "Assen is a good circuit for me and our bike works quite well there. We learned many things in Motorland Aragon during round three, mostly that the base set-up we found with the previous bike worked quite well with the new bike."

During the most recent round of the championship at Motorland Aragon in Spain, Rea was left to battle for the lower podium positions with his team-mate Sykes, such was the consistency and dominance shown by Welshman Davies.

Always loyal, Rea believes his KRT squad did a solid job in Spain but he is now aiming to get back to winning ways in the Netherlands, at a track where he has shown true class during his World Superbike career.

"We did a good job in Motorland, but we need to start getting back to winning ways again," said Rea openly.

"We could be in for a great season and Assen is a track I really enjoy racing at.

"I have no idea why I do so well there, but I really enjoy the place. It is a real riders' track that when your bike set-up is not working just perfectly, you can still make a difference.

"There are a lot of corners there that require different techniques. It means it's not just about finding the braking point, apex and exit. There is quite a lot of technique to riding Assen successfully and having experience of the track also comes into it."

Champion Rea will approach the happiest of his hunting grounds with 32 career race victories and a total of 71 podium finishes to his credit, but he knows all too well the potential of inclement weather at Assen.

He added: "Hopefully the weather can be consistent throughout the weekend at Assen so I can build a rhythm and find some consistency in my riding and also in our package on the bike."

The 4.542km Assen circuit is playing host to the World Superbike Championship for the 25th year. The layout of the Circuit van Drenthe, which started life as a pure road racing circuit, has been heavily modified over the decades.

A popular venue for riders and teams alike, the stature of Assen in motorcycle racing mythology is such that it is regarded as the 'Cathedral of motorcycle racing' by most and is also known as the 'University' by some.

The latter description alludes to the old adage that a racer's education cannot be complete until the intricacies of Assen have been truly mastered.

Belfast Telegraph

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