Honda World Superbike Team's Jonathan Rea rode to a come-from-behind win today in race two at the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland, the Northern Irelander passing race-one winner Sylvain Guintoli with two laps to go to win his first World Superbike race of the year and the ninth of his career.
Iffy conditions caught out several riders, including World Champion Carlos Checa who started on rain tires and had to pit for slicks. The Spaniard paid the price and ended up a lap down in 17th place.
Rea made the right tire choice, starting on slicks on a racetrack that started damp but ended up dry. Despite injuring a finger in his crash in race one, Rea was there at the end to pass Giuntoli after both he and the Frenchman had made their way around near-race long leader Jakub Smrz.
Smrz had started with an intermediate front tire and took off at the front, leading by 2.7 seconds after just one lap. The Effenbert Liberty Ducati rider would extend that lead to 4.7 seconds before the others, led by his teammate Guintoli, started to reel him in.
On the 14th of 21 laps, Guintoli trailed his teammate Smrz by 2.1 seconds as Rea moved around Aprilia's Eugene Laverty to take over third place. Two laps later and Guintoli was on Smrz and just 1.5 seconds up on Rea. On the 18th lap, both Guintoli and Rea relegated Smrz to third place and a lap later the Czech rider crashed out of the race.
On that same lap, Rea took the lead for the first time, but Guintoli - also on slicks front and rear - was staying with him. It was only on the final lap that the Frenchman gave up and he ended up 2.8 seconds behind at the checkered flag, ending a very successful day with a one-two tally in the two races.
The battle for third place went to the bitter end with Laverty crossing the stripe just in front of BMW's Marco Melandri, the Italian likewise barely ahead of his teammate Leon Haslam.
Sixth went to Kawasaki's Tom Sykes with BMW Motorrad Italia's Ayrton Badovini seventh. Aprilia's Max Biaggi ended up eighth with Checa's Althea Ducati teammate Davide Guigliano and Badovini's BMW teammate Michel Fabrizio rounding out the top 10.
Crescent Fixi Suzuki's John Hopkins ended up 11th.
Several riders crashed out of this one, including Canadian Brett McCormick, the Liberty Racing Team Effenbert rider in the top 10 at the time of his off. Chaz Davies also crashed while well inside the top 10. Ditto for Maxime Berger, McCormick's teammate.
Checa's non-score combined with Biaggi's eighth-place finish gives Biaggi a one-point lead in the championship, 92-91, as things have tightened at the top. Sykes is third, 13 points out of first with Guintoli moving into a tie for fourth with Melandri on 66 points - just one more than Rea, who is sixth with 65 points.
1. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
4. Marco Melandri (BMW)
5. Leon Haslam (BMW)
6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
7. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
8. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
9. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
10. Michael Fabrizio (BMW)
11. John Hopkins (Suzuki)