Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea gearing up to repeat past Assen heroics

By Paul Lindsay

World Superbike Championship leader Jonathan Rea will be a strong favourite for victory in tomorrow's third round at Assen in the Netherlands, which the Ballyclare lad openly admits is one of his favourite venues.

Already a four-time race winner this season from the opening six races, the Kawasaki Racing Team new recruit said of his round four aspirations: "I am really excited about Assen, because it is a circuit I really enjoy.

"I have had some good success here in the past," explained Rea, whose victory tally at the Dutch TT Circuit currently stands at five.

Speaking of his new team and the ZX-10R factory Kawasaki, which has helped him increase his career win tally to 19 in World Superbike, Rea added: "With a new team and a new bike this year, we need to see how we perform early on at Assen, but it is somewhere I think we can try and win again.

"Aside from Phillip Island this is going to be the race that most feels like home, because I have spent so much time there in the past."

This season's World Superbike Championship has been dominated by British riders and yesterday's free practice sessions were no different, with the top four in FP2 all UK-born.

Top of the pile was Welshman Chaz Davies - a race winner last weekend in Spain - aboard the Aruba.it Racing Ducati with Rea's KRT team-mate Tom Sykes second just 0.3 seconds adrift, but 0.1 seconds ahead of series leader Rea.

Fourth was Leon Haslam (Red Devils Aprilia) who currently trails Rea in the championship standings by 26 points, with Alex Lowes (Suzuki) seventh.

The all-important Superpole qualifying takes place today from 2.00pm (GMT) with tomorrow's races at 9.30am and 12.10pm.

Closer to home, Carrick's Alastair Seeley holds provisional pole position in the National 1000cc Superstock class at Brands Hatch. The Tyco BMW rider may have one eye on the upcoming Vauxhall International North West 200, but is making a decent early showing on BMW's S1000RR in the British championship as he looks to win his third British title.

Also at Brands Hatch, Northern Ireland's Michael Laverty will aim to climb up the MCE British Superbike Championship standings after his recent return to the class.

Toome's Eugene Laverty is in MotoGP action this weekend during round three in Argentina, which the Ulsterman feels could be more his sort of circuit.

"It's probably a bit easier to get the hang of than Austin," said the 28-year-old Aspar Honda rider.

The Neil Robinson Memorial, last run in 1988, takes place today at Bishopscourt Race Circuit near Downpatrick from 11.00am. Leading competitors include Gerard Kinghan, Crumlin's Stephen Thompson and Alastair Kirk.

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