Jonathan Rea extended his lead at the top of the World Superbike Championship with an imperious performance at Assen to win a muddled race two on Sunday.
The reigning champion underlined his class at the legendary Dutch TT circuit to claim his eighth and ninth victories at the ‘Cathedral’ over the weekend, opening an advantage of 45 points at the top over Aruba.it rider Chaz Davies.
A sudden downpour left the track wet on Sunday and as conditions improved, Rea timed his pit-stop to perfection, coming in before his main rivals to change to dry tyres and powering clear from team-mate Tom Sykes, who ended the race 2.4 seconds behind in second place.
Aussie Josh Brookes had charged to the front on the Milwaukee BMW in the wet and led the first half of the race, but disaster struck for the reigning British Superbike champion when he crashed out following his pit-stop to change tyres.
Brookes, though, plus Honda’s Nicky Hayden and Davies left their stops a few laps too late and were outsmarted by Kawasaki pair Rea and Sykes, who had already made their move and were pulling clear at the front as the circuit became almost universally dry.
Sykes switched to intermediates all round and the decision cost him any chance of seriously challenging Rea for the win, although the 29-year-old Ulsterman always seemed in control at a circuit where he has now won five consecutive World Superbike races to close in on Carl Fogarty’s record haul of 12 wins.
Rea, who has extended his career tally of WSBK victories to 34, said: “Our target this weekend was to increase our championship lead and we did that. I said to Pere [Riba] my crew chief before the start of the race that the track should dry out pretty fast.
“We have had previous experiences like that. I have no idea why I go so well at Assen. It is nothing to do with the track itself. We got a double victory but it was not like Australia where I had more pace than the rest,” he added.
“We controlled the situations this weekend when we had to, we were calm and clever when we had to be, and as a team our strength shone through to get two strong results.
“We got the maximum from what we could achieve here so I am super, super, happy with that. Our stars aligned this weekend and it worked out, so I am just happy.”
Dutch hero Michael van der Mark made up for his crash in race one to take the final rostrum place on the Honda Fireblade behind Rea and Sykes, 15 seconds behind the winner.
Lorenzo Savadori (Ioda Aprilia), Welshman Davies and Nicky Hayden (Honda) were the top six.