Back to Assen for WorldSSP: the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ awaits magical battles

Tuesday, 19 April 2022 07:42 GMT

The iconic Dutch venue will host the second round of the 2022 campaign following on from the stunning season-opening round

After two last-lap deciders last time out at MotorLand Aragon, the FIM Supersport World Championship returns to action at the TT Circuit Assen for the Motul Dutch Round. The ‘Cathedral of Speed’ hosts Round 2 of the 2022 season and, after the thrilling season-opener, there’s plenty of headlines to keep an eye on. Assen is a circuit steeped in history and there is now a chance for more riders to write their names in the record books at the iconic circuit.

HOME HEROES: Dutch teams and riders hoping to impress on home soil

There is plenty of Dutch representation on the grid in the form of teams and riders, with Ten Kate Racing Yamaha racing at their home round as reigning Riders’ and Teams’ Champions with Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter. The last time they came home as Champions was back in 2011, but they ran away with a double victory at Assen in 2021, when running a special yellow livery, with Aeegrter. He had a hard-fought battle with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) who claimed victory in Race 1 – his first WorldSSP race – and the Dutch Round will be his first visit to Assen with WorldSSP although he has been here with Moto2™, claiming a best result of fifth.

Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) narrowly missed a first WorldSSP podium at Aragon after losing out in a last-corner battle with Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team). Van Straalen raced at Assen in WorldSSP in 2019 and claimed ninth place while it was also the venue of his two WorldSSP300 podiums in 2017 and 2018. Could he take a first WorldSSP podium in 2022 at his home venue and boost the potential for Dutch delight? Bulega claimed Ducati’s first WorldSSP podium since Valencia 2007 last time out, and he’ll be hoping to carry this on at Assen; a circuit he knows well from Moto2™ but has yet to taste on WorldSSP machinery.

2021 WorldSSP300 Champion Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) impressed on his WorldSSP debut with Dutch team MTM Kawasaki, and he’s aiming to repeat his win and fifth-place finish from WorldSSP300 in 2021 with the same team, whilst cracking the top six for the first time in WorldSSP is also on his mind. 2020 WorldSSP300 Champion Jeffrey Buis (Motozoo Racing by Puccetti) has a best result of third at his home circuit, again rom WorldSSP300, and will be keen to move up the WorldSSP order in front of his home fans.

NEW 2022 BIKES FIGHT AT THE FRONT: Triumph and MV Agusta show potential

Lying fifth and sixth in the standings are two of the new bikes for the 2022 season with Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) on the MV Agusta F3 800 RR and Triumph Street Triple RS respectively. Tuuli claimed fifth and sixth place at Aragon and he’ll be hoping to build on this at Assen, where his best finish is seventh, coming in 2017 with Honda. Rookie Manzi pulled off an epic fight back in Race 2 to finish in eighth after starting the race from the back of the grid due to a tyre pressure infringement. Although this will be his first visit in WorldSSP to Assen, he has plenty of experience at the track including a seventh-place finish in Moto2™ in 2019.

CHASING A PODIUM: bouncing back from Aragon

Turkish star Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) claimed one podium and missed out on a second rostrum visit after a late-race technical issue. After showing strong pace, Oncu will be hoping he can once again snatch a podium with the Kawasaki ZX-6R machine. In 2021, on his first visit to Assen in WorldSSP, Oncu scored a pair of seventh place finishes, and will surely improve on that with added experience of the circuit and bike. Following the results of the Aragon Round, Oncu lies seventh in the standings ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) who had an up and down weekend at Aragon but has a victory to his name at Assen. Can Caricasulo take Ducati to their first win in WorldSSP since 2005 at a circuit he has previously had success at? Estonian rider Hannes Soomer (Dynavolt Triumph) rounds out the top ten in the Championship as he continues to adjust to a new team and a new bike for the 2022 season. Although he hasn’t scored a top ten finish at Assen in WorldSSP, Soomer claimed a win and a second place in 2016 and 2015 respectively when in the European Junior Cup, as well as his joint best Superpole result of fourth back in 2019. He missed 2021’s event through injury

HOUSEKEEPING: more news from WorldSSP

Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) is outside of the top ten in the Championship standings following a Race 1 crash, where he remounted to finish 19th place. He responded in Race 2 to finish sixth, but he will be hoping he can return to the rostrum at a venue he won at in 2018, whilst he has three more podiums at the famous Dutch venue. In the WorldSSP Challenge, rookie Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) leads the way ahead of fellow WorldSSP300 graduate Tom Booth-Amos (Prodina Racing WorldSSP) by just two points after the Turkish star went on late-race charges at Aragon. Both have had success in WorldSSP300 at Assen, with Booth-Amos winning Race 2 in 2021 and Sofuoglu fifth in Race 1 from the same year.

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