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Thursday, 19 April 2012 10:19

Preview: Round Three WSBK Championship- McCormick Heads North to Netherlands

Posted by  Vicki Schouten
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Brett McCormick made is WSBK debut at Imola, and now heads to Assen Brett McCormick made is WSBK debut at Imola, and now heads to Assen Photo courtesy of Colin Fraser

The eni World Superbike series continues this weekend with round three at the historic TT circuit of Assen in the Netherlands.  It will be the 300th round overall for the production-based Superbike series that debuted in 1988. In the previous round at Imola, Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) took back the points lead from Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). Going into Assen, the top six riders (on five different brands) are separated by just 35 points.

Canada’s golden boy, Brett McCormick of Saskatchewan, will make his second career Superbike start for the Effenbert Liberty Racing Team at the upcoming round.  The Ducati 1098R rider joined the tour full time at the previous round in Imola, Italy, and earned a pair of solid finishes just outside the points.

“Maybe a few things could have gone better,” confirmed McCormick after his World Superbike debut in Italy.  “But overall, when the dust settles, I was happy to gain that experience, earn a pair of decent results.  The points will come, and it was a great overall weekend, working with the team and competing with some of the best bike racers in the world.”

After a challenging race at the tricky Imola circuit, McCormick now moves on to another location steeped in the history of two-wheeled sport.  The 4.5 km long Assen TT circuit, one of the oldest road courses in the world, has a storied position in both Superbike and Grand Prix activity—this is one of the few venues that host rounds on both WSBK and MotoGP tour.

“Of course, you look forward to a new track, and a famous one is even better,” commented McCormick.  “This will be my first time at Assen, and I think it will be a little easier to pick up on.  Of course, almost everyone else knows the track well, but that’s how it will be for parts of the season and its part of my job to work these things out with my crew.” In his Imola debut, McCormick didn’t make many changes to his number 68 Ducati Desmo v-twin, since he had very limited experience on that bike.  Now his team plans to make more adjustments, including electronic tweaks, as they get accustomed to McCormick’s style and riding preferences.

One element of McCormick’s rookie baptism season is already out of the way—the Canuck got a brake test from former series champ Max Biaggi during practice at Imola.  “The “Roman Emperor” apparently took some form of dislike to McCormick and/or his behavior, although Brett is at a loss to explain why.

 “Your guess is as good as mine,” smiled McCormick, reflecting on the nature of the incident.  “You hear about these sorts of things, but you really don’t expect it!  It’s all good experience, you file it away and move on to the next thing; there are lots of new things going on all the time.”

While a points paying finish seemed like a good mid-season goal prior to the season, McCormick’s solid form in Italy (he ran as high as 11th in the opening race) means that a top 15 result in the points is now a real possibility.

Last year at Assen, reigning World Champ and current series points leader Checa had a solid round, earning a first and a third for the Althea team.  Honda’s Johnny Rea also got a first and third at Assen 2011, while Biaggi netted a pair of seconds in warm and dry conditions. Initial pre-weekend reports suggest that cool temperatures and showers should make this a busy weekend at the northern Dutch venue.

Inside Motorcycles will offer dedicated coverage straight from the TT venue in Assen, starting with practice on Friday, April 20.