Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) entered the Assen race with realistic expectations to leave as champion and after a dramatic 16-lap race with his fellow countryman Fabien Foret (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) he duly took Honda's fourth Rider's title in a row - thanks to the 20 points he earned for second place. All four of Honda's championship wins have come from riders on Ten Kate prepared machinery, including Assen race winner Foret in 2002, when riding a CBR600FS. Since then, the CBR600RR has powered Chris Vermeulen (2003) and Karl Muggeridge (2004) to the title, with Charpentier's 2005 domination making it a hat-trick of overall victories.
This far Charpentier has scored 210 points from a possible 225, scored six wins from nine races, taken eight pole positions, and led for 154 race laps, out of a total of 186 completed to date.
The Honda trio on the Assen podium was completed by Michel Fabrizio (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) who rode well despite a gearchanging foot injury, suffered during one of his two qualifying falls.
Katsuaki Fujiwara (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) is now 83 points behind Charpentier; in second place overall, having finished fifth in today's race. He twice ran wide when in a podium challenging position.
A six-rider fight for the last top ten positions, involving WSS novice Tatu Lauslehto (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR), saw him battle with largely more experienced riders. He finished ninth overall, but second in his own warring group.
Charpentier was understandably both relieved and ecstatic about his championship win, and had to show determination as well as speed in the face of a five-rider assault on the podium places for much of the race.
"It is difficult for me to realise the situation right now," stated Charpentier. "The race was great, very hard and Katsuaki passed me, as I thought he would. I think he maybe had a problem changing gears, as he had many rear wheel slides. It was a tough race with Fabien, great fun and it was a perfect day for me. It was also sometimes difficult for me to change gear today, but I was happy to finish second on the final lap. I had realised that Katsuaki was behind, and it was not necessary to push right at the end."
Foret was emotional at his first 2005 race win, but took time to congratulate his friend and countryman on his championship triumph.
"I would like to say first of all that Sebastien and I are friends and I am very pleased for him and his win, He was the best this year and deserves his title," said Foret. "For me this year has been very difficult in places and this was a good moment to bring home our first win. I hope we can do well in the next three races. Our bikes are very close to the Ten Kate ones, and anyway, the bikes are still Hondas, strong enough to win today."
Fabrizio paid tribute to his team for his third place at Assen, with the entire Megabike squad maturing as the season has progressed.
"We are a young squad and there was a gap at the beginning of the year because we were racing with the dominant team in the championship," said the Italian. "Our situation is now good and now there has been the first win with Foret. I think now the team is in a very good situation. And I have to thank them because twice on Saturday I fell and they had to rebuild the bike on two occasions."
Fujiwara was disappointed not to have taken at least a podium finish at his team's home race, after making a couple of slip-ups at key times.
"I had a couple of moments," said Fuji. "The second time I missed my gearchange, found neutral and almost crashed. First time, I outbraked myself, so a couple of mistakes cost me a place in the podium, which is what I expected to achieve today. It would have been great to be up there with Sebastien. Congratulations to him, he has had a fantastic season."
Lauslehto enjoyed his race, citing it as one of the hardest of his career.
"I had the ambition to finish in the top ten this weekend and I did it, after a really hard race against so many different riders," he said. "This is my favourite track and that helped me but I am exhausted now!"
In the overall Championship table, Charpentier has 210 points, Fujiwara 127, Yamaha rider Kevin Curtain 122, with the Team Italia Megabike duo of Foret and Fabrizio fourth and fifth, on 110 and 98 points respectively. Lauslehto is tenth, with 49 points.
World Superbike Round 9 of 12
ASSEN THE SCENE OF VERMEULEN'S FIRST 2005 DOUBLE WIN
Chris Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) scored a superb double win at the classic SBK venue of Assen, after two very different 16-lap races. He had the perfect start to his race preparations at Assen, taking his and his Ten Kate team's first Superpole win since each started out on the 1000cc class in 2004, thanks to a superb 2'04.179 lap time. This mark was some 0.7 seconds better than second placed rider James Toseland's Ducati.
In the first race, Vermeulen eventually translated his Superpole supremacy to a comfortable win, having led by over five seconds at one stage, before easing up for his second 2005 season win. Second went to Toseland and third to Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha), both of whom Vermeulen had ridden in company with at some stage. Max Neukirchner (Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR) fell in Superpole but starting from 12th on the grid, he overcame a fading Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) and his own team-mate Pierfrancesco Chili, with the trio finishing 8th to tenth. Ben Bostrom's first race of the day put him 18th, still struggling with the lingering after-effects of his testing crash.
In the second race, Vermeulen had a less effective start, finishing lap one in fifth place, and taking eight laps to get to the lead. He then had an often-tactile battle with Haga, as they slowly dropped Toseland from the pace. Vermeulen had done enough on the penultimate lap to stop Haga attacking him on the final corners, and he took a popular double win with the Dutch crowd.
Max Neukirchner outdid Muggeridge for seventh in race two, with Bostrom a truly gritty tenth - and suffering throughout. Chili had severe set-up problems in each race, despite changing settings from race one, and finished 14th.
Vermeulen paid tribute to the team's effort and his opponents, and refuses to believe that he cannot catch championship leader Troy Corser (Suzuki). Corser was fourth in each race, his first off podium finishes all year, leaving the points gap now 86 back to Vermeulen.
"James and Nori made me work for it today, but it's a great weekend for the team, and we took a good double," said Vermeulen. "From half season onwards we started to get some results and there are six races left. Troy still has a big lead, but I will be trying my best to pull it back."
Neukirchner was the second most effective Honda rider on display at Assen, and was glad to rack up two good points scores, after some recent bad luck.
"I am a lot happier because of the points we made this weekend," said the young German rider. "In practice things were not so bad, even in Superpole, when we had a crash. It was not enough to make too bad an effect on our race weekend. I needed some points and we got them."
Karl Muggeridge was unhappy with his raceday luck, feeling that he could have had better results in different circumstances.
"My right hand, the one I broke at Brands Hatch, went numb in race one," said Muggeridge. "I couldn't feel the throttle too well, but in race two it was fine. The problem was that the rear traction just dropped off right away and I had no chance to go faster in the race than I did."
Ben Bostrom was in severe pain and discomfort all weekend, his back and digestive system still not functioning properly, making his second race tenth something of a miracle ride.
"Things got worse all weekend, as I rode the bike more," said a drained Bostrom. "By the time I got on the bike in the second race I had never felt so sick in my life. I kept throwing up during the race and that was burning my throat and making my eyes water. That made vision a problem but at least I had someone in front to follow. We got points in one of the races, and that's why we stayed out. The bike is good now, it was just the condition of the rider that was the problem."
For Pierfrancesco Chili, Assen was forgettable, and he sits eighth in the championship.
"Even in Brands we had problems and maybe I am way out in getting the setting of this bike right. I cannot ride like this, for no points, for no enjoyment and we are not in a good situation right now. We tried to make some modifications in the second race but it was just the same. The clutch did not start the way I wanted again either, so we are far away from where I want to be."
Lausitzring hosts the next Championship round, next weekend.
RACE : (Laps 16 = 95,952 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / FORET / FRA / Team Megabike / 34'37.800 /
2 / CHARPENTIER / FRA / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'38.058 / 0.258
3 / FABRIZIO / ITA / Italia Megabike / 34'38.909 / 1.109
4 / CURTAIN / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 34'39.180 / 1.380
5 / FUJIWARA / JPN / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'43.290 / 5.490
6 / HARMS / DEN / Stiggy Motorsports / 34'48.230 / 10.430
7 / PARKES / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 34'54.565 / 16.765
8 / CHAMBON / FRA / Gil Motor Sport / 35'03.392 / 25.592
9 / LAUSLEHTO / FIN / Klaffi Honda / 35'03.448 / 25.648
10 / FORES / ESP / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 35'03.456 / 25.656
11 / LAGRIVE / FRA / Moto 1 - Suzuki / 35'03.670 / 25.870
12 / STIGEFELT / SWE / Stiggy Motorsports / 35'03.815 / 26.015
13 / VOS / NED / & E Sport Racing / 35'03.817 / 26.017
14 / JANSEN / NED / Suzuki Nederland / 35'15.078 / 37.278
15 / KALLIO / FIN / Yamaha Racing Support / 35'15.887 / 38.087
Fastest Lap 5° Katsuaki Fujiwara 2'08.865 167,533 Km/h
Riders Championship Standings:
1 CHARPENTIER 210, 2 FUJIWARA 127, 3 CURTAIN 122, 4 FORET 110, 5 FABRIZIO 98,
6 CHAMBON 76, 7 PARKES 69, 8 FORES 58, 9 NANNELLI 56, 10 LAUSLEHTO 49,
11 VENEMAN 33, 12 STIGEFELT 32, 13 HARMS 31, 14 CORRADI 25, 15 JONES 18.
Race 1: (Laps 16 = 95,952 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 33'36.029 /
2 / TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 33'39.425 / 3.396
3 / HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'40.905 / 4.876
4 / CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 33'42.844 / 6.815
5 / PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'46.104 / 10.075
6 / KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 33'48.555 / 12.526
7 / LANZI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 33'48.690 / 12.661
8 / NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 33'56.624 / 20.595
9 / MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 33'56.901 / 20.872
10 / CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 34'03.720 / 27.691
11 / CLEMENTI / ITA / Team Pedercini / 34'12.473 / 36.444
12 / GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 34'12.873 / 36.844
13 / MCCOY / AUS / Foggy Petronas Racing / 34'13.041 / 37.012
14 / MARTIN / AUS / Foggy Petronas Racing / 34'15.291 / 39.262
15 / BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 34'15.368 / 39.339
Fastest Lap 7° Chris Vermeulen 2'04.685 173,150 Km/h
Race 2 : (Laps 16 = 95,952 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /
1 / VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 33'34.053 /
2 / HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'34.138 / 0.085
3 / TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 33'37.371 / 3.318
4 / CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 33'39.991 / 5.938
5 / PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'40.447 / 6.394
6 / LANZI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 33'50.533 / 16.480
7 / NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 33'51.308 / 17.255
8 / MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 33'56.391 / 22.338
9 / ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 34'04.854 / 30.801
10 / BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 34'08.124 / 34.071
11 / KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 34'10.533 / 36.480
12 / MCCOY / AUS / Foggy Petronas Racing / 34'10.711 / 36.658
13 / GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 34'11.218 / 37.165
14 / CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 34'11.941 / 37.888
15 / BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 34'12.467 / 38.414
Fastest Lap 12° Noriyuki Haga 2'04.799 172,992 Km/h
Lap Record: Chris Vermeulen 2'04.685 173,150Km/h 2005
Riders Championship Standings:
1 CORSER 370, 2 VERMEULEN 284, 3 LACONI 214, 4 HAGA 203, 5 TOSELAND 197,
6 KAGAYAMA 187, 7 WALKER 130, 8 CHILI 119, 9 PITT 117, 10 MUGGERIDGE 100,
11 ABE 95, 12 LANZI 85, 13 NEUKIRCHNER 80, 14 BUSSEI 48, 15 BOSTROM 39.
Source: Honda Motor Company, Ltd - Motor Sports Division