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While the MotoGP paddock was busy in Austin, Texas dealing with the rain, the WorldSBK riders were contending with their own weather, as the snow halted racing activities on Saturday.

Thankfully, the Sunday brought better weather, and WorldSBK racing fans were treated to the show that the richly deserved.

Assen is perhaps one of the most revered tracks on the World Superbike Championship schedule, even after changes to the circuit removed some of its best turns.

The Cathedral always provides good racing, and this outing was no different, including a photo-finish with local hero Michael van der Mark.

Helping us relive the magic is photographer Stephen McClements, with this ample gallery of WorldSBK photos from The Netherlands. We hope you enjoy them!

A day full of racing, that is what the fans at Assen got this Sunday – thanks in no part to the snow that fell on the Saturday before. Back on the track and ready to ride, WorldSBK fans were treated to some good racing at The Cathedral, despite the names in the Top 3 not changing.

If there is on thing that we have learned from the 2019 season so far, it is that the assumptions from 2018 and before are completely up for grabs. The other lesson is that the Ducati Panigale V4 R is the real deal.

While the MotoGP action is in the United States this weekend, the World Superbike paddock is over in Assen, putting on their on display of two-wheeled excellence.

The Cathedral is one of the most popular stops on the WorldSBK calendar, and as such we are lucky to have Tony Goldsmith swinging a lens for us in The Netherlands.

So far, Assen has failed to disappoint. At the end of Friday’s FP2 session, only 0.031 seconds separated the top five riders, with Tom Sykes leading the charge, followed by Rea and Haslam.

After Alvaro Bautista’s runaway success since joining the WorldSBK series, winning all six main races and all three Superpole races, mostly by a significant margin, the FIM has made the first move toward balancing out performance.

Starting from the next round at Assen, the Ducati Panigale V4R is to lose 250 revs, while the Honda CBR1000RR, which has struggled badly since the start of the year, is to given an extra 500 revs on the maximum rev limit.

Episode 97 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is another WorldSBK show. As such, this means that we see Steve English joined by Gordon Ritchie on the mics, as they are now our WorldSBK reporting duo for the 2019 season.

Recording straight from Motorland Aragon, the guys talk about the on-track action in Spain, where once again (have we said that before?) it was a sweep by Alvaro Bautista and the factory-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R race bike.

The Ducati Panigale V4 R is the newest bike on the Superbike block, and as you’d expect it is the most advanced bike on the WorldSBK grid. 

The Italian manufacturer has developed a tremendous package over the winter, to immediately vault to the top of the pile in the production based series, and with Alvaro Bautista having been undefeated in the opening two rounds of the championship, he has laid the foundations of a very strong title challenge.

This is a production based series, and Ducati has developed a so-called ‘homologation special.’ While the rest of the grid comprises of heavily developed machinery, the Ducati was developed as a no holds barred, pure bred racing machine.

This is a throwback to a bygone era when the likes of Honda would develop their Superbike machinery with the sole goal of winning the title.

No compromises are made with a homologation special. Other than costing a maximum of €40,000, there is very little that isn’t maximised on the machinery.

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Alvaro Bautista came to the WorldSBK championship and has been unstoppable. Since figuring out how to get the right feeling from the front end of the brand new Ducati Panigale V4 R, he has won all six races held so far – four full-length races, and the two new Superpole sprint races held on Sunday.

His winning margins in the four full races were 14.983, 12.195, 8.217, and 10.053 seconds. He won both sprint Superpole races by over a second as well.

Naturally, that kind of domination attracts attention. The WorldSBK series is meant to be a close battle between bikes based on road-going motorcycles, and as modification of the standard bikes is limited, there are mechanisms in the rule book for keeping the disparity between the different bikes racing to a minimum, giving any manufacturer which sells a 1000cc sports bike a chance to be competitive.

To ensure this, the rules have a section on balancing performance between the different bikes competing. The method of balancing performance has varied over the years, but the current rules use only the maximum revs to try to keep the bikes close.

The maximum rev limit is set when each new model is homologated, following a formula described in the rules, and explained by WorldSBK Technical Director Scott Smart in a video on the WorldSBK website. The short version is that the bikes are limited at 1,100 RPM above the point at which they make their peak horsepower.

Episode 95 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is a WorldSBK show. As such, this means that we see Steve English joined by Gordon Ritchie on the mics, as they are now our WorldSBK reporting duo for the 2019 season.

Recording straight from Thailand, the guys talk about the on-track action at Buriram, where once again it was a sweep by Alvaro Bautista and the factory-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R race bike.

Obviously the speed from Bautista is a topic of discussion, as is Jonathan Rea’s efforts to stop the onslaught from the WorldSBK rookie. Is the season over though? Not by a long shot, with the European rounds certain to offer some new challenges to all the riders in the WorldSBK paddock.

There is no challenge like Buriram on the WorldSBK calendar. It is the hottest round of the year, and it places huge physical and mental demands on riders. With temperatures expected to be in the high 100°F’s, the sun and heat will sap the power from riders.

Leon Camier has described racing in those conditions as “brutal” in the past and he’s not wrong. To get an idea of what the riders will go through this weekend, try sitting in a sauna for 30 minutes and then imagine doing that while your heart is racing and you’re wearing leathers and a helmet.

Before travelling to Thailand, I tried to put myself into a rider’s frame of mind and the results were interesting to say the least. We’ve all heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s a lie. I didn’t die, but I definitely wasn’t strong afterwards!

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