Pole Position and Podium Potential for Rea and Pata Prometeon Yamaha in Assen

April 20 2024

Pole Position and Podium Potential for Rea and Pata Prometeon Yamaha in Assen

Pole Position and Podium Potential for Rea and Pata Prometeon Yamaha in Assen

Jonathan Rea achieved a stunning premiere pole position for Pata Prometeon Yamaha at the Dutch Round of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship, before going on to finish in sixth place in a dramatic damp-to-dry Race 1.  

TT Circuit Assen treated hardy fans to a thrilling Superpole session in the wet, as Northern Irishman Rea robotically hammered out fastest lap after fastest lap in the 15-minute shoot-out. Despite challenges from a number of different competitors, Rea successfully and superbly brought his #65 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK to the top spot in parc ferme for the first time.

A damp but rapidly drying track surface with threatening rain clouds overhead in the afternoon kept everyone on their toes to take the correct tyre choice before the start of Race 1. Rea made a great start to lead the first two sectors, dropping back into the front group back as the race developed. Rea’s choice of slick tyres and a strong fightback meant a chance at the podium was more than realistic, but sixth was the final result when the race was cut short by a red flag on Lap 15.

Qualifying tactics didn’t quite pay off for teammate Andrea Locatelli, who stared from P10 on the grid but quickly recovered to make significant and positive progress through the field – running as high as second place at the end of Lap 4. As the circuit dried, the selection of an intermediate front tyre made it difficult to stay at the front of the leading group and Locatelli dropped back to tenth position, before an unfortunate mechanical failure ended his race.

The hope is for more consistent weather for the final day of competition in the Netherlands tomorrow, starting with a 10-minute Warm Up at 9:00 CEST (BST+1), the Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.

Jonathan Rea – SP: P1 / Race 1: P6

“I really enjoyed the Superpole session because I felt at one with the bike even in those tricky conditions, and lap after lap I built a good rhythm. You never know how fast to go because there is always a lot of risk, but the track was damp and drying out – this of course overheats the wet tyres and they move around. I kept thinking maybe someone is going to come in for the intermediate, but I had no time left. When I saw P1 on my pit board at the end, I was so happy! Not just for me, but all the guys in the team that need this lift. It was really nice for Yamaha as well and set us up for the race to make a good start. I hole-shot the start, but then in the first part of the race you don’t want to be the guy leading in those conditions because you don’t know how slippery it is. I made a couple of small mistakes and when Loka came through on the last corner, I lost two positions just off the back of the group and had a huge moment between Turns 2 and 3. Aside from that, it was a race where you just had to be patient until the track dried. It got almost completely dry and I could feel a few areas where we can improve the bike for tomorrow. Shame for the red flag to come out, I could smell a podium but I was just too far away at that point. A good solid day that leaves us wanting more!”

Andrea Locatelli – SP: P10 / Race 1 P12

“The condition was tricky on the grid, so for me the best choice was maybe to start with the intermediate, but in the end, we changed the rear and put in the slick but this was not the best thing because the balance was not the best with an intermediate on the front. I was fast in the beginning and second place after some laps, but then I dropped so fast and unfortunately, we had the mechanical problem. In any case, not a good result for today so let’s see tomorrow. We will try to find again the feeling, to work and be ready to fight again. We have two more races, but I can say just that this is not such a lucky day!”

Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Prometeon Yamaha:

“We hoped that Assen would be a good platform for Jonathan to take a step forward in his relationship with the R1 WorldSBK, but we didn’t count on having to take that step in such challenging conditions! A brilliant run to pole position has given everybody a big boost, it was nice to see JR with a huge smile on his face – and with something very positive to reflect upon. The race itself was always going to be a gamble for all the riders. Our tyre choice for the #65 bike was essentially correct, but perhaps we got a little bit unlucky with a final burst of rain at around five minutes to go. That meant that the harder compound slick tyre options were difficult for JR to manage in the early laps – but the upside is that had the race run the full distance, there’s no question that Jonathan would have either been on the podium or at least in a great fight for the top three. Well done so far this weekend to Jonathan and his crew, and we will hope for more consistent conditions tomorrow. For Loka, today has been of course a disappointment, the top ten would have been his final position despite finding the tyre choice difficult to manage, but it was not meant to be. As we speak, the team is looking into the reasons behind the DNF and we move on to preparations for tomorrow, and hopefully a big bounce back from Loka.”

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