PREVIEW: the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ welcomes WorldSSP as enthralling campaign hits Assen

The FIM Supersport World Championship continues its thrilling season with a trip to the Netherlands, and the iconic TT Circuit Assen. A track steeped in history and full of iconic moments, 2024 is sure to be no different for the WorldSSP field as the action heats up for Round 3, the Pirelli Dutch Round. There have been three winners and five riders on the podium so far this season, so will there be a new name to add to the list or will frontrunners start pulling clear?

MONTELLA VS SCHROETTER VS MANZI: three-way title fight brewing, or can others join in?

Four points separate Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), with Montella taking two wins to Schroetter’s none so far, although he has been close with four podiums out of four. On 65 points and seven away from the German is Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing), who was the Race 2 Barcelona winner and has three podiums to his name. At his team’s home race, can the #62 add to his win tally and close the gap? The other rider to win this year is Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) but a win, a podium and two crashes means he’s down in fifth, but will the #99 be able to change his mixed fortunes at Assen?

A STRONG START: Caricasulo on the MV Agusta, Debise and Mahias underdogs for Assen?

Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) has enjoyed a strong start to life on the MV Agusta, running inside the top eight in all four races this season but his next step will be to target a podium. One of the most experienced riders on the grid, perhaps Assen will be where he grabs his first MV Agusta rostrum. Elsewhere, French riders Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) and Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) both enjoyed a strong Barcelona, fighting in the lead group, with Mahias coming away with a podium. He was on the rostrum in 2017 with Yamaha machinery and will be looking to repeat that, while Debise has taken fifth in three races this year. He’s only stood on the podium in France while in WorldSSP but he’ll hope his strong form means this changes this weekend.

BACK TO THE FRONT: looking to make gains at Assen

Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) sits sixth in the standings and is going in search of his first podium and win of the season, although Assen is a circuit he’s only made the top ten once at. For Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), it’s a return to where his 2023 season effectively ended following his crash with Montella last season and he’ll be hoping to put everything behind him with a strong result in the Netherlands. He was quick in Barcelona but faded as the race went on, but perhaps Assen will be different for the #61 at a circuit he’s had a podium at, back in Race 2 in 2022.

WILDCARDS: Smits returns, van Wikselaar set for debut

Two wildcard riders will race at Assen, and both will be looking to give the passionate Dutch crowd something to cheer on home soil. Twan Smits (Team Apreco) has been in the paddock before, competing in WorldSSP300 in 2021 as a wildcard as well as Portimao last year in WorldSSP where he took a best of 20th. It’ll be a debut for Wiljan van Wikselaar (WST WIXX Racing Ducati), who won the Dutch Supersport championship last year and is competing in IDM Supersport in 2024. He’s also competed in the Dakar Rally.

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