Hallo en welkom bij #getyourNealdown van deze week! Voor ronde 10 van het British Superbike kampioenschap zijn we aan de overkant van de Noordzee in het vlakke land van Nederland bij de kathedraal van snelheid, Assen!
Couldn’t have put it better myself! Of course, after having visited the historic circuit for MotoGP back in 2011 I am, of course, fluent in the language of Tulips, windmills, clogs and wax-covered cheese that is clearly made backwards (get it?! ‘made’ backwards..edam?…oh, never mind…) however the rest of the preview will be in the Queen’s English, at least as close I get to it anyway.
As The Showdown phase of the season kicks in amongst the windmills and tulips of The Netherlands it’s all to play for as the action ramps up a notch or two at the ‘Cathedral of Speed’, well, at least in its original layout it was but it’s more the Parish Church of Speed these days but make no mistake, it often throws up some of the best racing of the year. This year Assen holds the keys to the stage door rather than the middle event of the final three rounds and what a place to start!
One of the first things you notice when you visit the track is that it’s much smaller than you feel it is on tv! The track is long and sinuous, there is no doubt about that, however when you see the track around turns one to four and the final chicane, it seems tiny but oh so spectacular at the same time. It took me a fair while to realise that the Gert Timmer Tribune sign across the grandstand at the final chicane isn’t a local newspaper sponsor, Tribune is actually Dutch for erm, ‘grandstand’… (look, it was a heavy weekend and I’m not a great drinker so cut me some slack)
There have been many epic races at Assen and the Showdown really brings out the best in British Superbikes. Who can forget the head-to-head between Shakey and Alex Lowes when Shakey ended up in the gravel or Tommy Hill when an errant mechanic caught his brake lever as he came to the grid causing an instant stoppie and crash? In more recent times it was heartbreak for Jake Dixon as his RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki expired, and with it the dream of lifting the championship.
Brookes, Bridewell, Buchan, Mackenzie, Hickman and Redding all embark on the final shootout. Brookes has fond memories of the circuit with three wins there while Bridewell has two of his own. Redding found success there in Grand Prix and Mackenzie scored a podium in race 1 last year. Buchan will be keen to improve on his 13th and 9th last year while Hickman took a podium in race 2 to back up his fourth place in race one. It’s going to be a great battle for podiums, points and pride and let’s not forget those who are riding for a job next year as well as their own pride, it’s far from straightforward…
Twists and turns are a staple of the Assen circuit and it always provides the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with more than a few of its own… bring it on!
*don’t forget, if you’re using the official timetable to plan your weekend then knock an hour off. If you’re watching on tv like me, it’s all an hour earlier on there, too*