Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing partners Hikari Okubo and Lucas Mahias have made a swift turnaround from the previous round in Spain to the forthcoming one this weekend in The Netherlands. The classic Assen circuit in the Netherlands is the venue for the fourth round of the FIM World Supersport championship, to be held between the 12th and the 14th of April.
After three intense rounds of the championship Okubo is the highest placed Kawasaki rider, in fifth overall, having scored strongly in races from Australia through Thailand to Spain. Now his challenge is to keep his determined push for podium places going at one of the circuits he least prefers on the championship trail.
Mahias was unfortunate in Spain not be able to get away with the leading group early in the 16-lap contest but is determined to make even more progress towards the top places this weekend, after signing with his new team this year. He was seventh in Spain and now looks to get into contention for podiums at the unique 4.542km long Assen circuit. He has been on those Dutch rostrum steps before, with a second place in 2017 – the year he was crowned World Champion.
With Okubo fifth in the points, Mahias is now ninth, but only three points from the rider currently in sixth place.
After Assen the championship has a three weekend mini-break until the fifth round, which will be held at another naturally sculpted circuit, Imola in Italy. Raceday for the WorldSSP riders will be Sunday the 12th of May.
Lucas Mahias stated: “The Assen track is very technical and I like it for this reason, though I’ve never won here. This weekend I need to continue to work to improve my feeling with the Ninja. Our aim is to do better in both practice and the race compared to how we did in Spain, to be able to score the kind of results that my team and I deserve.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I don’t particularly like the Assen track but our goals remain ambitious. So we will try to adapt our bike quickly to the Dutch track, to score the best possible results. The forecast is for low temperatures and this will make things even more difficult. But I know I can count on my team’s support and so I’m confident ahead of the weekend.”
Season debutant in Spain – but a recent race winner in this category of racing – Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) is already leading the FIM Europe Supersport Cup standings, after recording a ninth place finish in the overall WorldSSP race at Motorland Aragon. He and his team-mate Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) will be out for season best finishes at Assen, where Smith has already been a race winner in 2016.
Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team Kawasaki) is currently 20th in the overall rankings approaching his home round. Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) will look for his points this weekend in the Netherlands, while ESS rider Gaetan Matern (Flembbo Leader Team Kawasaki) will take part in his second race of the season. Local man Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer Kawasaki) was declared unfit at the previous round because of a wrist injury. He is currently 19th in the rankings.