RD10 - TT Circuit Assen - MCE Insurance British Superbikes
The first of the epic showdown rounds began at the the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands last weekend. As usual it did not disappoint throwing up mixed weather conditions and a hell of a lot of on the limit riding... here's what went on...
After interesting Saturday qualifying session where the rain affected Q2 and Q3 it was Christian Iddon on his maiden ride who took pole. The wild card Bimota entry was joined by John Hopkins and title fighter Tommy Bridewell on the front row. All the other title fighters were safe in the top ten minus Shakey who crashed out in Q2 and had to start from 12th on the grid.
The grid began to line up for race 1 and the heavens decided to open. Some riders returned to the pits after the sighting lap to change tyres and the rest made changes on the grid. Josh Brookes who was due to start from 6th made an error and didn't get onto the grid in time meaning he was put to the back for race start. There was a mix of tyre choices with most using full wets and a few gambling on rear intermediates; it was very hard to judge as back sections of the track were said to be dry.
The race kicked off and it was title fighter Linfoot who took the initial lead after a fantastic start, he was followed by Iddon, Bridewell and Kiyonari. Shakey wasted no time in joining them blasting his way through the field from the fourth row. By the beginning of lap two he was already with the leading pack. Things did not go so well for Josh Brookes who attempted to salvage his race by pushing hard early, but as we've seen many times this season he pushed too hard and before he knew it, he was in the gravel and his race was over.
Within no time Shakey had positioned himself at the front ahead of Linfoot. Josh Waters who picked up his first MCE BSB win at Brands in the wet earlier in the year was on superb wet form once again moving his way up the field aboard his Tyco Suzuki. Filip Backlund on the FFX Yamaha was also making great strides through the pack until he crashed out.
Mid-race the track which did seem to be drying got another soaking of rain changing everything for the boys on intermediate rears. The drying and wetting track also meant that wet tyres of some of the riders had gone off or been shredded...it was all about tyre management now. Shakey seemed to have lost some grip and slowed up letting Wildman Waters through into the lead as well as his biggest rival Kiyo. The three times champ knew his tyres were shot but had no one close behind him so decided to settle for 3rd...just as he made that decision, he crashed out, losing his massive podium credit lead in one foul swoop.
Kiyo pushed Waters till the end and even passed him on the final lap but Waters held his nerve and eventually took the win. Stuart Easton picked up the final podium spot. Title fighters Dan Linfoot finished in 6th, Bridewell in 9th and Chris Walker who made the wrong choice on tyre in 16th.
Race 2 and the weather in Assen was much kinder and a dry race was declared. After all the strange goings on in the mad race 1 it was actually Jon Kirkham who started from pole in race 2. Many of the title fighters were down the grid and most had work to do.
Initially John Hopkins took the lead followed by Kiyo and Easton. It was disaster for the Stalker as he crashed out on lap 1 ending any chances of points towards his title fight from the Assen weekend. Kiyo passed Hopper and attempted to gap the rest but he was followed by Shakey who had a point to prove after race 1.
In a show of excellent patience Shakey then went on to shadow Kiyo for the entirety of the race. He knew if he passed him he'd have a battle on his hands so he waited until the final lap to make his move into the chicane. With an excellent block pass he forced Kiyo out and took the advantage into the chicane which gave the three times champ his first win since Knockhill.
Title fighter Bridewell took the final podium spot after some fantastic riding to catch the front two. It was more woe for his teammate Brookes as he had to retired with a technical failure meaning like the stalker he left Assen with zero points towards his campaign. Final title fighter Linfoot finished a respectable 4th.
In amongst all the racing Club MCE members took part in fantastic VIP experiences including pillion laps, safety car laps in the Nissan GTR, a 3 rider hang out with Ryuichi Kiyonari, James Westmoreland and Lee Jackson, Official Pit Crew with RAF Reserves, Grid walks and more! To be part of Club MCE all you need is an MCE policy and to sign up here on the Club MCE app.
With the first showdown round done we now turn our eyes to Silverstone. With Shakey and Kiyo only separated by 12 points the War for Four is well and truly underway. Can Brookes turn is fortunes around and close the gap on the leading pair? Or will he have to give way to his teammate Bridewell? Stalker and Linfoot have the most work to do but they'll certainly be fighting!
For more information on the series visit MCE Insurance British superbikes.
26.09.2014 - Big Ed