17 Assen victory for Jonathan Rea: What’s going on with Yamaha?  / World Superbike Championship

17 Assen victory for Jonathan Rea: What’s going on with Yamaha? / World Superbike Championship

Without a win this season, Yamaha arrives at the third stop of the 2024 World Superbike Championship in Assen. All eyes are on newcomer Jonathan Rea, who has never been as successful on the TT Circuit.

Japanese manufacturers are in trouble in the two-wheeler game. Yamaha is struggling not only in MotoGP but also in the World Superbike Championship and is winless this season. A change should come in the third event next weekend in Assen.

Although record champion Johnny Rea had his weakest start to the season since joining the World Superbike Championship in 2009, things could be looking up in Assen. Rea won there five times for Honda and took twelve victories with Kawasaki, making him the most successful rider at the Dutch track. His move to Yamaha should ensure more success.

“I’m looking forward to Assen because I really like this track. I’ve had a lot of success there in the past and I think the Yamaha R1 will also be very strong,” says Rea with confidence. Yamaha is yet to win at the TT Circuit since the factory re-entry in 2016, second places from Toprak Razgatlioglu, Andrea Locatelli and Michael van der Mark were the highlights.

The weather in Assen is unpredictable. At this time of year the old farmer’s saying applies: “April, April, she doesn’t know what she wants.” In 2019 it even snowed, which is why Saturday’s race had to be cancelled. Rea: “It will be cold for the first time this season. I hope I have a good feeling with R1 and my crew from Friday onwards so we can put together a good race package for Saturday and Sunday.”

According to the forecast, the chance of rain is very high on Friday and Saturday. With temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius, it’s also cooler than recently in Barcelona. “It’s always good to start in Holland, there are a lot of fans there and I get a lot of support from my fans in England,” said Rea, who scored just eight World Championship points this year and is in 17th place overall.

His teammate Andrea Locatelli, who was on the podium in the first weekend of the season at Phillip Island, also wants to show a good performance like in previous years. “Assen is a good track, fast and flowing. I love driving there. Every year I have been on the podium there, it will be good to continue that tradition.”

Tom O’Kane, Locatelli’s chief of staff, knows how to help his partner succeed. “The track offers different characteristics, the first sector is narrow, but the rest are fast corners. The bike should be stable in these, but still be fast when changing direction.