Victory in Race 1 at Assen puts Rea on the verge of a historic milestone after claiming his 99th victory with Kawasaki
Race 1 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the TT Circuit Assen for the Motul Dutch Round was a hard-fought affair with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) coming out on top against Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) as he claimed his 99th victory on Kawasaki machinery.
Rea started the race from third place, behind teammate Alex Lowes in second and polesitter Razgatlioglu. He soon found himself at the front of the field after passing Razgatlioglu although the 2021 Champion was able to respond a few laps later to re-take the lead of the race. Rea once again passed the Turkish rider on Lap 16 at Turn 1 before his attention turned to the charging Bautista.
Bautista had worked his way up from fifth on the grid to fight in the lead group and, after passing Razgatlioglu for second place, aimed to attack Rea on the final lap of the race. Bautista closed in on the run to the final chicane, but Rea was able to hold on to claim victory, his 16th at Assen, and take the lead of the Championship by just two points ahead of Spanish rider Bautista.
Reacting to the race, Rea said: “It was so tough. Both Alvaro and Toprak were super strong, especially in that middle part of the race, in the middle or latter part. The gap on my pit board was always so small. I understood that I was in front. I must’ve been in front because they weren’t coming past. Some things were going through my head, are they hanging me out to dry with my tyre, or maybe they don’t have the pace. It was going on my in my head, but I thought ‘just keep doing what you’re doing, keep doing my own rhythm, looking after my own tyre, worrying about my race and being strong in the areas I could, to limit my mistakes’. In the end, we could get it done. A big team effort because we changed the bike quite a lot since Aragon. It’s more of an Assen bike, it’s flowing a little bit better here. It shows that our ZX-10RR is working in a bigger window and that’s really positive.”
Rea’s victory means he has now won 99 races for Kawasaki and his first chance to make it a century for one manufacturer comes tomorrow in the Tissot Superpole Race, a milestone that would just add to the number of records Rea has in the WorldSBK history books. With his first chance to make more history coming on Sunday, Rea was asked about his feelings heading into a potential history-making day.
He said: “Step by step. We don’t want to think too much about that. Of course, the target is to go out and as many points as we can, try to win the race, but not for a piece of cake. I don’t know if the team have got anything planned but 100 wins for a manufacturer is an incredible milestone and, of course, that’s the next big hurdle for us. If it’s not tomorrow, I’m sure it’s going to happen at some point this season. We can be very proud of our partnership together and look forward to many more race wins.”
Can Rea add more records to his already-full history book? Find out on Sunday from Assen using the WorldSBK VideoPass!