The iconic Assen circuit in The Netherlands was home to Round 11 of the British Superbike Championship, with OMG Racing enjoying a positive weekend, even if luck was against them. Alongside their successful hospitality event, #FlyOMG, their superbike stars Gino Rea and Josh Elliott were out to prove a point in The Netherlands and demonstrate both their own, and the team’s, capabilities.
Ex-European Superstock 600 champion Gino Rea was coming to a circuit that he knew well for the first time since the British Superbike season-opener at Donington Park.
Having topped the first session on Friday, and ending the opening day 2nd on the time sheets, the weekend was looking promising for the popular Londoner. P8 in FP3 again showed the bike’s potential and Rea secured his best qualifying grid position since he started in the championship.
Race one ended prematurely when he crashed out in a highly competitive battle for the top ten, while race two saw Gino survive a chaotic opening lap crash at the final chicane and move into P6, but a buckled wheel from being struck by another rider lead to Gino nursing the bike home to secure a P16 finish.
Rea was the only Suzuki rider to top a Superbike session at Assen this weekend, proving that his pace is undoubtedly good enough for the top six, even if Lady Luck had other ideas.
“I think the best way to sum up Assen is…OMG! Friday was the best day of the year for us by far, with P1 in the opening session followed by P2 in the next session. It all stayed smooth up until Q2 on Saturday where I lost the front and crashed at 110mph. In race one on Sunday I lost the front before I had even tipped into turn nine – we don’t really know why, even after checking the data.
“Race 2 started from a season-best of 9th but I was caught up in the pileup going onto the start/finish straight. I braked to avoid hitting Linfoot and was hit so hard from behind that it ripped my hands off the bars, my foot came off the peg and it set my air bag off! I managed to stay on but my rear wheel was badly buckled and it felt like it was going to explode. I wanted to stay out though and finish the race for my team.
“I managed to bring it home in 16th but it was a shame not to have two strong race results.”
Making his debut on the OMG Racing Superbike, Josh Elliott returned to Britain’s premier class of motorsport with a point to prove at Assen. Elliott had a solid qualifying session aboard the OMG Racing Suzuki, qualifying on row seven in 21st place, just under three tenths of a second from being seeded into qualifying two with teammate Gino Rea. The Ulsterman would eventually finish just under two seconds from the pole position, an astounding achievement in the BSB class having only been on the bike at Assen for one and half days previously. Race one saw Elliott climb to 18th, setting a lap time just 0.008 behind Suzuki’s Showdown contestant Brad Ray. Race two ended on a more subdued note however, as he retired the bike with a mechanical issue.
“Massive progress has been made on the OMG Racing Suzuki at Assen; it’s been fun learning and watching the progression throughout the weekend. I must admit, I feel very lucky to be walking away from the 2nd race as there was some heavy crashes in there but all in all, it was a good return to the Superbike class. We will go to Brands Hatch now with what we learnt and with it being a full dry weekend, we’ve got a lot of data and I’ve also got a lot of valuable track time. It is a shame that the results perhaps don’t show the progress that has been made but it’s been a phenomenal weekend. I’d like to say a huge thanks OMG Racing Suzuki guys for an awesome job this weekend and congratulate them on their #FlyOMG event too! It has been great to be a part of it”.
Team principal Paul Curran had a weekend of two halves as he headed up OMG Racing’s first ever double-Superbike team. With Josh Elliott stepping up to the Superbike and Gino Rea putting OMG Racing’s name at the top of the time sheets for the first time in the Superbike class this year, Curran could see the positives from the final results.
Paul Curran, Team Principal
“Assen has been the most successful and yet unsuccessful round this year! Gino was showing strong promise from the start of FP1 with the highest consecutive place free practice results he has had all season, but unfortunately the race results were not meant to be, with a crash in race one and being ran into by another rider in race two, damaging his bike.
“Josh started and finished his first BSB race for OMG Racing and improved throughout the race – getting quicker each session. It’s been a very steep learning curve for Josh, but he and the bike have improved so much over the weekend. Josh is going into the Brands Hatch final round with a much better understanding of the Superbike package.
“Taking the positives from the weekend, all of team OMG worked very well together in our first weekend as a two rider Superbike team. Now it’s onwards and upwards to the finale at Brands Hatch!”.
Crew chief Ray Stringer was looking to use his race-winning set-up expertise at Assen this weekend, and on day one it looked like the team had found form – it was only misfortune in the races that put OMG Racing back. However, ex-racer Stringer is now certain that the bikes are capable of top results – a sensational achievement given the fact the team are still only in their first year.
Ray Stringer, Crew Chief
“The OMG Racing team had a fantastic Friday, better than we could have hoped for with a first and second fastest in sessions one and two. On Saturday, Gino had a big crash in qualifying which put us on the back foot for race day. After the Sunday morning warm up session he was again looking good for the two races. The crash in race one was unfortunate, but while circulating within a few tenths of the lap record these things can happen to any racer on any lap.
“The team were optimistic that he could get a top ten result in the second race, but again, this was not to be as Dan Linfoot crashed in front of him and Gino got rammed avoiding the crash. With essentially a square back wheel he fought valiantly, but dropped back from 6th to 16th at the flag. All credit to him for carrying on as most would have pulled in with that amount of extreme damage to the bike.
“Josh performed how we knew he could for the entire weekend; showing true pace and race class on a new bike. One second a lap would have seen him firmly in the top 10, which is outstanding considering the lack of time on the bike. He will go from strength to strength after this performance. As a team we are so close to top six results now, even if luck didn’t go our way”.
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OMG Racing would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the #FlyOMG event on Sunday, from our cabin crew to our loyal and rapidly growing fan base and everyone in-between! It has been a weekend to remember for us and we hope that it was a weekend that you’ll never forget too!