MAS­TER­CLASS Dodgy Dutch weather fails to dampen champ’s spir­its as he does the dou­ble and storms

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - AT ASSEN WSB RE­PORTER

Weather wreaked havoc at Assen but it failed to stop Jonathan Rea as he marched re­lentlesly to­wards an­other WSB ti­tle.

Rea left the last round in Aragon – where he was beaten by Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies - un­happy with his bike’s base set­tings, but he bounced back in em­phatic fash­ion with a dom­i­nat­ing dou­ble win.

Assen is a track where Rea has ex­celled, but be­fore the week­end’s ac­tion got un­der way, Rea’s dom­i­na­tion was far from a sure thing with the reign­ing cham­pion say­ing he hadn’t had much time to sort out his set-up. And in the ever-chang­ing and treach­er­ous con­di­tions it looked like a whole host of other riders were pre­pared to risk every­thing in a bid to win. The com­pe­ti­tion was in­tense, but it was Rea who shone through to win two very dif­fer­ent races.

While the Aragon race had opened up a weak­ness in the mar­riage of Rea and his all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R, the Assen week­end ce­mented their sta­tus as po­ten­tial life-long lovers.

“The way I try to ex­plain it is that we are in a re­la­tion­ship,” said Rea. “I re­ally loved my 2015 bike, it was like a love af­fair. Whereas this bike I feel I am just get­ting to first base with!”

Davies and Sykes were strong again in race one, and even the Hon­das got into the mix. Rea ex­pected to be pushed harder and says there’s still more to come as the team work hard to im­prove the bike.

“We have to re­mind our­selves that the bike I felt in­cred­i­ble on last year was in its fifth year of evo­lu­tion,” he said when asked why he is still mak­ing big changes in his set-up dur­ing race week­ends.

“With the new bike we al­ready have a lot of in­for­ma­tion and in­cred­i­ble peo­ple but it is just ex­pe­ri­ence. The weight bal­ance of the bike is com­pletely dif­fer­ent and it lends it­self to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent rid­ing style but I know I can get the best out of the bike.”

What Rea needs for that, he says, is more test­ing. He is al­lowed eight days of in-sea­son tests, which if he con­tin­ues to im­prove is a scary propo­si­tion for his ri­vals given that he has al­ready won five out of eight races and en­joys a com­mand­ing 45-point lead.

“We are re­ally cry­ing out for more test­ing to be hon­est but there is no time,” said Rea who like the rest of the WSB grid is in the mid­dle of a cy­cle of week-on, week-off races. “Now the trucks go to Imola, af­ter Imola the flight boxes go straight off to Sepang then the flight boxes go to Doning­ton, so the next time we can test would be at the end of May, be­gin­ning of June. We are hav­ing to do all our test­ing at the race­track.”

So, even af­ter four rounds, the ques­tion is: can any­one catch Rea?

The jury may be out on that one for now, but his ri­vals all strug­gled at Assen in the chang­ing con­di­tions.

Af­ter eight races, and still not happy with his set-up, Rea is man­ag­ing to find a con­sis­tency that be­lies the stug­gles he is hav­ing with his ma­chine.

Rea may be the man on the top step of the podium, but the new King of Assen is cer­tainly hav­ing to work for it.

Cel­e­brat­ing af­ter his dou­ble Assen win, Rea now en­joys a com­mand­ing 45-point lead A mis­take chang­ing down gears left Sykes down and out in race one

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