2017 Assen WorldSBK Saturday Notes: Trouble Boils Over

The tension that has been building between Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies finally spilled over at Assen. Three years of competing with one another for race wins and championships has strained their relationship, and on Saturday at Assen it reached breaking point.

On the final laps of Superpole, Davies was on a flying lap and came across Rea through turn seven. Being forced to sit up and avoid the touring Kawasaki, emotions got the better of Davies and at the end of the session he hit out at Rea in Parc Ferme.

“You stayed on three quarters of the track,” stated Davies after qualifying third. “I don’t know how tight a line you can pull out of that left but I’m three quarters of the track out there. You were in the way mid-way through the corner and then on the exit I had to pick it up because you were three quarters across the track, if I didn’t I’d have cleaned you out! Next time I’ll smash you from the inside and we’ll see what happens.”

Penalties don't always hurt

Rea was quick to respond to Davies and when the dust settled, Race Direction hit the Kawasaki rider with a three place grid penalty for the race. Ultimately it would have little effect on Rea and he was quick to get to the front and fight with Davies for the win. The Ducati rider led almost the entire 21 lap race but with four laps remaining Rea made his move.

The Northern Irishman was very fast in the final sector of the lap and made his move through the right handers leading to the final chicane. Davies answered back immediately on consecutive laps but on the penultimate lap with Rea in front, Davies ran deep into the final chicane with a technical problem. With Davies sidelined, Rea was able to get to the checkered flag without competition and claim another important 25 points.

For Davies the championship now appears to be a bridge too far, but after what had been set up as a thrilling final lap, tomorrow's race should offer the Dutch fans a true Assen classic. The historic circuit has seen many of the pivotal moments of WorldSBK history and today definitely echoed back to Carl Fogarty and Frankie Chili.

Boiling point

“Everyone could see on the TV how Johnny looked back and saw me coming," said Davies about the Superpole incident. "This fact is particularly disappointing. He was slow on a section of the track, which is one that he knew exactly where everyone was driving. He went where he should not be. We didn't pressure Race Direction to penalize him three places. Even if he is the world champion, he cannot ride around on the ideal line. Such games are not expected by the world champion. He thinks he's above it all.”

While Rea was unwilling to be drawn into a war of words, he did say that he offered his apology following the race.

“I understand that he was annoyed,” said Rea. “Of course right away I would apologize. I tried to talk to him like a normal person. But it was not the right time, he was in the red. It is unacceptable to me that he gave me a blow. We are role models for young riders. I got a hard punishment, I wonder if he'll get one for it?”

Two wrongs...

The blow that Rea referred was from Davies got past him and threw his hand at the Kawasaki. There was some dispute from both riders about the punch and following a meeting with Race Direction, Davies was given a warning for his behavior but not given a penalty.

"A blow?" questioned Davies. "I did it only to get his attention. He clearly looked in the other direction when I arrived after he'd turned around. I wanted to wake him up, ask him what he was doing.”


Tomorrow Rea will start his 200th WorldSBK race. Having increased his Assen win tally to ten, Rea has taken a big step towards the championship but will also take nothing for granted tomorrow.

“I’m really happy,” said Rea after claiming the win. “I’ve had so many questions over the weekend asking why I’ve won so often here and I don’t know why. It’s just a circuit I really like, it suits my riding style a bit and to make it happen here again is great - especially when we a had a really good pace in the beginning. After the last six or seven laps and I tried to plot a move to go through and to make a rhythm but it was unfortunate for him. After I passed him in T3 he had a problem, it was unfortunate it didn’t go down to the last lap - but I am really happy with our effort and to have another 25 points.”

Another 25 points and a dent in the championship hopes of Davies it may be, but it certainly adds another dimension to what has already been one of the best recent rivalries in WorldSBK. And come Race 2, the Welshman will have more than just a point to prove.

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IMHO Rae is just being his typical snot nosed dickhead!

About time he got pinged to maybe make imn think about how he portrays himself a little bit

Whilst its great to see JR finally get a bike that his talent deserves the series is really getting very predictable = boring. It's a 2 team series with the top rider (JR) on the top bike able to win pushing himself & the bike at 98% , his teammate, IMO, is only in the running because of the bike he's on, the top Ducati rider (CD) has to push both himself & the bike at 105% to be in the hunt, with the inevitable consequences & his teamate isn't totally back up to speed. The other teams are just there to have their own separate race. At least the cameras are showing more racing down the field as that is where the only real action is going on. I'm going to Europe again this year & was thinking of going to WSBK as well as MotoGP this time but I don't think I'll bother.

Rea's baby face makes him look like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.  That incident has caused me to view him in a new light, because from that footage it seems to have been completely deliberate.  For reasons I don't understand I've never warmed to Sykes, and with Rea being shackled with the turd of a Honda for so long I was really pleased for him when he got the Kawi ride and cleared out.  Such a likeable demeanour on the face of it but just like any other guy at the front of any sport, there's always a ruthlessness there even if it's hiding in plain sight.

Davies is all arms and legs, crawling over the tiny Duc and seemingly making it do things it's not quite good enough to do normally.  Rea had a bit of a choke-a-thon in the latter part of last season, while Davies went on the rampage.  With 50 points up for grabs every round an advantage can quickly vanish so lets hope for a change in momentum in the championship.

The race indeed highlighted the sparse depth of field in SBK though, beyond the factory Kawi and Duc nobody's really in the race.

Chaz is not quite fast enough. The duc isn't quite there. It probably never will be. Probably because of that baloney chassis they went with several years ago.

In both WSBK and MotoGP the Ducs are just not there. It's always something. The struggles of Rossi, Lorenzo, Ianonne, Dovi all show it really is the bike that's not up to snuff in MotoGP, not the various riders. In WSBK likely it IS the riders. Maybe you gotta be an Aussie like  Casey and Troy to win consistently on a Duc.

In the end, as most of us really understand, it's not about HP, because everyone has  that, but ultimately it is all about braking and chassis. Getting into, through and out of the corners well is what makes a fast lap. It's not drag racing after all.  Think about it, Kawi focuses on WSBK and tops it. Honda, Yam and Duc are  a step below in WSBK.  No Kawi in MotoGP, but Yam, Honda focus there at the expense of focus on WSBK and are tops. Maybe Ducati needs to pick one series to focus on. If the big boys can't focus on  and win in two very different series, likely Duc can't either.  Audi isn't going to throw money down the motorcycle racing rat hole forever. I'm sure they want to see returns, as can be expected. That means championships.  

but only Audi know how deep their pockets are and how much exposure they are getting from coming 2n'd in WSB and way back in MotoGP (for the moment at least).  For as long as I have known, Ducati have built race bikes and then modified them for the street, if money becomes tight which formula gives them better bikes/feedback?  Still haven't seen a V4 Ducati production bike yet.  No, their very rare MotoGP copy doesn't count :-)

Personally, I'm dissapointed in Kawasaki not being in MotoGP but it's totally their choice and it doesn't seem to be hurting street bike sales. Their supercharged bikes just bring a huge smile to my face.



The level of rivalry between riders is often obscured by talk-nice press conferences and well-crafted press releases that the rider, on his own, would never issue or even think. I remember after his recovery Wayne Rainey was talking to Kevin Schwantz for a while and after Kevin went away, Wayne said, "I must really be better because the more I look into his eyes the more I start to hate him again."

We call that odio sano in Spanish, which is a language, along with Italian, that this sort of thing can still be discussed before the politically correct alarms go off. 

There are nicer things to call it than “healthy hate,” but from the days of Read and Ivy to our day, it has always been there. But it something the press should stay out of…other than to admit that it is there. With Hailwood and Agostini it seemed different…intense but different…those were different times. Actually I like the way Davies and Rea dealt with it better that the way it all went down in MotoGP.

It is the propinquity and the always present invasion of territory, with the possibility of very legal contact that creates the tension and vibe…you don´t see that in tennis. Bike riders race without a net in all senses.



We were JUST discussing the USA's National Series MotoAmerica, and a cultivation of a resurgence (article a couple days ago). In it we pointed out the need for a good rivalry between a solid yardstick of a rider like Toni Elias and a young upstart.

Ding! Popped up today, ask and you shall receive. Does this get you wanting to see some high lite film? It does me, and that is how we end up with an audience. I will leave it here for those curious...

"It looks like we have a rivalry in the 2017 MotoAmerica Series with a heated exchange taking place in today’s post-Motul Superbike press conference between race winner Toni Elias and yesterday’s winner Cameron Beaubier at the Suzuki ECSTAR Championship at Road Atlanta.

Elias (24) raced to his third win of the season following an exciting battle.

The war of words started yesterday when Elias was angered by Beaubier’s pass in the final corner that pushed Elias onto the grass on the exit of Turn 12. Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Elias said yesterday he had a long memory, but he didn’t need it as he retaliated quickly in today’s second race, moving over on Beaubier on the run down to Turn 12, then touching his helmet and looking back at his new rival. The two exchanged words prior to the winner’s circle celebration and that spilled over to the press conference.

“I got a decent drive up the hill coming into the last corner and Toni [Elias] looked back and was off the gas a little bit, so I just went to the outside to brake and he moved over on me, hard,” Beaubier said. “I knew it was because of yesterday’s incident in the last corner. He looked back at me and shook his head. I felt like I didn’t do anything wrong so I just told him I wasn’t in the wrong there. I was wondering why he was tapping his helmet after the race finished, and he said he has memory, or something like that. At the end of the day I have memory about all the crap he did last year. I still have respect for the guy, but I’m not going to respect someone that doesn’t respect us out on the racetrack, plain and simple.”

To that, Elias responded.

“It’s very simple,” the Spaniard said. “Yesterday I was clean also, like it has been today, but I received [two] hits and went in the grass. I could [race] harder, but I don’t need it. We can play clean, and not like this. Me and Roger [Hayden] today we had a big battle, and we have been clean [with] each other. We play clean. But, if we have to play a little bit more dirty that is my strongest point, and I’m also strong in strategy. If you [Beaubier] want to come here like this [aggressive], let’s do it. No problem. You are a good rider and you don’t need to do it like that. We love to play hard and want to put on a good show. That is my goal.”

As for the race itself, it was another thriller with five riders at the front early, a battle that whittled down to three late in the race. Elias ended up beating his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden by just .308 of a second with Beaubier and his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory R1 just another .256 of a second behind in third.

“Yesterday I feel like I wasn’t aggressive enough, and it kind of cost me late,” Hayden said after finishing second. “So today I just wanted to be a little more aggressive and I felt like I could do (one minute, 25 second) lap times maybe in the beginning a do a little faster (pace) than yesterday. I wanted to lead and I could barely pass Toni (Elias) on the brakes. I don’t think I’ve ever passed him under the brakes, so I liked that. I feel like we’re getting better and getting that part of the bike better because that’s where he’s really strong. Cameron (Beaubier) came by me at the end and I got him back. I tried to close in on Toni as much as I could on the last lap, but it wasn’t enough. He was strong those last couple laps. Overall it was a good race and I gave it everything I had, so I’m happy with it.”

as the Inuit would find having just one word for snow insufficient.  The "hate" that racers feel for each other is nothing like what Solzhenitsyn describes feeling upon learning that Stalin had died - I cannot believe that Schwantz felt any joy when he learned that Rainey would never race again, as after all the worst thing Rainey ever did to Schwantz was beat him out for the 1991 World Championship.

Ha ha, love it! BTW, when you say "...the way it all went down in MotoGP..." I assume you're talking about Sepang 2015, and not the recent Qualifying thing between Vinales and Rossi?