Coming off of the Donington Park round that saw Biaggi disqualified from one race and fined for a pre-race incident with Marco Melandri over alleged blocking during Superpole qualifying. At Assen, it was Biaggis’ own Aprilia Alitalia teammate, Leon Camier accusing the reigning WSBK Champion of blocking his line during the second Superpole run. The incident left Camier out of the final Superpole qualifier, ninth on the grid while Biaggi qualified sixth to start on the second row.
Race One Highlights
For the third time this season, it was Althea Ducati’s Checa winning the Superpole. The prime starting position helped him take the holeshot with Biaggi second followed by Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea.
Rea moved past Biaggi at the start of the third lap, and by lap four, he moved past Checa to take over the lead. Biaggi also passed Checa to move into second before turning his sights to Rea.
As Checa settled into the third spot, Biaggi stalked Rea the remainder of the 22 lap race and though he came close at times, was unable to pass the Honda rider who finished 0.739 seconds ahead for his first win of the season. The victory also marked the first for the iconic Castrol Honda brand since 2002.
“First and foremost I’m proud to give Castrol Honda their first podium in the world championship this year,” says Rea. “My crew worked really hard all weekend and we really made the right decision to develop a specific bike for the race because it paid off. I lead from the start, was wondering whether to let Max pass, but made the right decision and won the race.”
Checa had dropped down to fifth at one point, falling behind Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty on lap seven. Sykes wasn’t able to hold on to third place however as his soft tires lost their grip. Laverty also experienced problems with the rear of his Yamaha R1 and also faded as the race continued. That allowed Checa to move back into third place where he would eventually finish.
“It was quite tough for me to keep the position at the beginning but finally I was able to pass the people from the second group and then I was trying to follow Laverty, overtook,” says Checa. “Max and Johnny were too strong and it was difficult for me to catch them at the end. For us it’s a very positive result.”
Race Two Highlights
The start of Race Two was delayed due to a couple of red flags from the World Supersport race, but once it started, it was Noriyuki Haga taking the holeshot on the Pata Racing Aprilia RSV4. Haga would lead the first two laps with Biaggi second, Checa third and Laverty fourth and Rea rounding out the top five.
Checa made his move on lap three and took over the lead. Haga began having tire problems and faded after the third lap, allowing Biaggi to move into second place.
Biaggi continued to hound Checa through the race and managed to come out ahead on lap 20 but the lead didn’t last long as Checa soon regained the lead and finished 0.524 seconds ahead of Biaggi for the win.
“I wanted to push at the beginning and try to build a gap between me and Max but he stayed with me, putting me under pressure,” says Checa. “When I made a small mistake and he passed me in the final stages, I was able to see that he was having some tire trouble. I got back past him and took the win, a result that is surprising but fantastic.”
Rea finished 3.584 seconds behind Checa for third place, scoring a pair of podiums on home soil for the Dutch racing team.
Checa leaves the Netherlands with a 43-point lead in the championship ahead of Biaggi. Checa has been on the podium in all six races so far this season and has looked strong for the Althea Racing satellite Ducati team. Biaggi’s two second place finishes match his results from the season-opening Phillip Island round and would be a lot closer to Checa in the points race if he hadn’t been black-flagged at Donington Park.
The 2011 WSBK Championship now moves to Italy for the May 8 round at Monza.