Jonathan Rea reasserted Assen as his single best WorldSBK track after he took his 13th career race win there, more than even Carl Fogarty could do, and more than anybody has ever done at a single track in WorldSBK history.
Rea knows he has had more changes in the past few years than the previous era of riders, but he is also simply connected to Assen and its asphalt.
He had to fight for a while, and Toprak Razgatlioglu did lead over the line at one stage, but ultimately a combination of pace and desire to push all the way saw him take his 105th career race win, his 90th for Kawasaki and that magic 13th at the old Circuit van Drenthe.
Rea put his win down to doing what it took to stay ahead and then nursing his hard-used X tyre combination front and back to win by three seconds, red flag or no red flag.
“Just perseverance, keep going,” said Rea about his Saturday win. “I could see with Toprak and Scott on my pit board that the gap was fluctuating, so I knew that if I let them guys get in, it would be very hard to get away.
"So, when I had clear track, I had to maximise it and make no mistakes. Tried to put a little gap. Keep doing that, never settle because they’re in their own battle pushing hard and if you just relax they’re going to catch you. I think the hardest thing was being by myself, my own reference and going away, but I had a good rhythm.
The bike was on rails. Just ran into some vibrations in the rear tyre at the end. So, instead to keep pushing the tyre in the critical areas like the fast rights, I conserved the tyre a little bit more, but even then, the gap was still increasing. So, it’s a really nice feeling as a rider to have that.”
Rea is no convinced things will be the same on Sunday, with cold and even thundery showers possible. But as he and his team have shown many times, the conditions and changes seldom faze them that much.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” said Rea on Saturday afternoon. “Come what may. I think it looks like we’re going to have some cooler conditions tomorrow, so hopefully we can be prepared for that. It seems like we were maximising our potential in the hot conditions. We got away with using the soft tyre. So, that’s a positive for us.
"I’ve used every rear tyre this season. I’ve used the SCX, the SCX Evo and also the SC0. I just heard the back end of what Scott was saying. It’s really true. Different circuits, different temperatures just have different requests for the bike and the tyre, and of course that’s the biggest influence on the lap time.”
Rea went for the all new front and a rear that had only been used in Misano before. But no gamble, just the result of his experience with the newer rubber.
“I did a long run yesterday on that one and I felt quite comfortable. Pere made a really good plan and we stuck with it. Pirelli brought a new front tyre. We evaluated that and I ran with that. The only bike in parc ferme with it, so that’s positive. I feel that’s nice. When you do your homework and it pays off sometimes you have egg on your face, but today we pulled it off.
"It was clear cut,” said Rea about his tyre choice. “It was actually a much slower pace than I expected, but yesterday I did a 17-lap run and every lap was 34.9, even lap 17 was 34.9. I couldn’t get near that today. The temperature difference was four or five degrees, so it just shows that working window can affect something like a tyre so much.”