Race One at Assen saw a tantalising battle at the front as four riders pushed themselves and their bikes to the limit as they chased the win.
When the red light went out polesitter Tom Sykes got off the holeshot, with his teammate Jonny Rea and Ducati’s and Chaz Davies close behind, followed by Sylvain Guintoli on the Yamaha and home town hero, Dutchman Michael Van der Mark on the Honda.
Rea snatched the lead on lap two, and the leading trio of Rea, Sykes and Davies set a blistering pace, pulling a second’s lead on Guintoli, Van der Mark and Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden.
Van der Mark clearly had the bit between his teeth and a podium in his sights, overtaking Guintoli and closing the gap to the leading trio.
Davies then got the better of Sykes and then Rea, moving temporarily into the lead, before Rea ran wide in the sixth lap, allowing Sykes and Van der Mark to get by. This error by the world champion means there were five riders from three different manufacturers all within just over a second of each other – Davies on Ducati, Sykes on Kawasaki, Van der Mark on Honda, Rea on Kawasaki and Hayden on Honda.
Van der Mark struck in the eight lap, overtaking Sykes and moving into second place. The move clearly unsettled Sykes, who outbraked himself in Turn One on the next lap, launching his bike spectacularly into the gravel trap.
The battle for the front ignited at the start of lap 17, when Van der Mark made his move on the first corner to overtake Rea, who retaliated a bit later to take back the position. At the end of the same lap, Rea then attempted to get the better of Davies, but his efforts were thwarted and he was forced to fend off the Dutchman again in order to hang onto second place.
The three-way tussle continued on the next lap, with Rea overtaking Davies who was relegated to second place and was then forced to yield another position to the flying Dutchman Van der Mark’s Honda.
The Honda pilot had his sights set on the top step of the podium at all costs and in the 19th lap he moved into the lead, overtaking Rea, but then he went long and the Northern Irishman took it back. The young Dutch rider’s dreams were then shattered during the penultimate lap when he crashed out, sending his bike hurling toward the safety barriers.
Rea and Davies battled down to the last corner for the top step of the podium, with the Ducati rider just two tenths behind the Kawasaki as they crossed the line, and Hayden clinching third place more than two seconds down the road.
Race 1 standings:
1) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
2) Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
3) Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)
4) Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)
5) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)
6) Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team)
7) Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team)
8) Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team)
9) Román Ramos (Team GoEleven)
10) Lucas Mahias (Pedercini Racing)