Jonathan Rea bounced back to form yesterday at the Assen Circuit in Holland where the 24 year old from Ballyclare took a scintillating win in the opening world superbike race.
He then finished in third position in race two, his first podiums of the season, to kick-start his championship campaign.
In race one, Rea, starting from fifth position on the grid, made a magnificent start and with an aggressive first lap was in third position behind the current championship leader Carlos Checa and defending world champion Max Biaggi.
On lap three Rea hit the front and despite race-long pressure from Biaggi he never put a wheel wrong.
He controlled the race from the front with strong confident riding and despite a penultimate lap final charge from the Italian, Rea had things under control and took the chequered flag less than a second ahead to record his third successive victory at the historic Assen Circuit having completed a race winning double last year.
Eugene Laverty starting the race from a maiden front row position on his factory Yamaha ran strongly in third position in the early stages of the 22-lap race, but dropped back from mid-race distance to finish in seventh place after the rear tyre started spinning on the rim, which threw the machine out of balance resulting in a dramatic drop in lap times.
In race two, Rea didn’t make such a good start battling his way
from fifth on lap one past Noriuki Haga and Laverty into third position where despite lapping at speeds identical to the leaders Checa and Biaggi he made no headway settling for a safe third position three seconds behind winner Checa.
These results move Rea into fourth position in the championship behind Checa, Biaggi and Marco Melandri.
Laverty went one place better than race one finishing in sixth position after a fierce battle with Leon Camier, Leon Haslam, Noriuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio.
A delighted Rea said: “It was a great weekend and I was both proud and happy to give Castrol Honda their first win of the season.
“In race one I got a good clean start and once in front I wasn’t sure whether to let Max past to set the pace, but made the decision to forge ahead at the front and it worked.
“It was good to be back on the rostrum after a long tough winter and two difficult opening rounds of the championship at Phillip Island and Donington Park,” he |said.
“In race two I was slow off the line and by the time I managed to get through to third the two leaders had gone and despite matching their times I could not close the gap.
“I’m happy to be back in the winners circle for the first time this season for the Castrol Honda Team and now look forward with confidence to the next round at Monza in three weeks.”
Closer to home and Ryan Farquhar got his road-racing season off to a flying start at Scarborough yesterday where he won six races from six starts.
Farquhar won both legs of the feature Ian Watson Spring Cup beating Michael Pearson into second place in both, the KMR Kawasaki rider also victorious in both legs of the supersport class, Pearson again second in both, and won both supertwin events.
Meanwhile during the second round of the Irish clubmans championship at Mondello Park yesterday there were double successes for Paul Swords in the Bridgestone Tyres Open class, 13-year old Kia McGreevey in the 125cc Production class, Adam McClean in 125GP and Jonathan Ralph in Pre’97 while Carl Phillips and Alan Kenny shared the wins in the Bridgestone Tyres supersport class.