Max points haul for Morris at Assen

JHP Ducati claim two spots on the podium in both races

Leon Morris (Buildbase/JHP Ducati) took both wins at Round Two of the Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge rounding out a very challenging weekend for all the rider and teams at Assen. The changeable weather conditions made for last-minute tyre decisions and tricky racing conditions as the rain came in heavy bursts throughout the weekend, leaving a number of riders out on track on the wrong tyres.

Qualifying on Saturday was typical, as the weather rendered two of the three qualifying sessions damp, leaving only the early afternoon session in which all the riders posted a fast time. All the riders were quickly out of the blocks and the laptimes began to tumble, but also coming into play were various tyre strategies meaning all the riders were looking to do as few laps as possible but still post a good time. Darren Fry (Buildbase/JHP Racing) ended the day on pole for Sunday's races, with Morris, Edwards (MSKWorks.com), and Gilbertson (AOR/Boast Plumbing) right behind him.

On Sunday the riders lined up on the grid for Race One looking forward to a dry race only for the heavens to open just as the grid was under starters orders. It was enough for the race to be delayed and a quick turn-around to change wheels meant a number of bikes had to start the race from pit lane. Lap one immediately saw the usual suspects, all on wet tyres, lead the pack into the first corner with Fry leading Gilbertson and Morris. These three were already setting the pace in tricky conditions on a greasy, drying track with veteran Edwards struggling to hold on to the leading group, and Ross Connolly and Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester Racing) chasing hard. Gilbertson and Fry swapped the lead a number of times while Morris sat behind the duelling pair waiting for his opportunity. On the penultimate lap, Morris went two seconds faster than both his rivals to move up to second with a hard pass on Gilbertson, and in a sudden death run out of the final chicane pipped Fry to the flag by just 0.07 of a second.

Race Two proved to be equally enthralling with Morris, Fry, and Edwards again the front runners after Gilbertson's bike developed a puncture forcing him to retire from the race on the second lap. Mark Cheetham (Shorrocks Motorcycles) begun the race well and was among the front group for the first three laps before the additional power of the EVO bikes allowed them to pull away. Barry Poll (Pumpkin Patch Racing) had already crashed out while Dean Skipper (Closeprint Ducati) and Chris Matthews (Ultimate Retail Solutions Ducati) pulled up early. On lap 7 Fry moved up to second with a move on Edwards and set about catching Morris in the remaining laps. But as the leading riders caught up with the back of the field on the last lap, the race was about to change. As Morris and Fry moved to lap Alan Walker (MSKWorks.com), Fry was adjudged to have overtaken under a yellow flag situation and was penalised 20 seconds. Morris took the race win to jubilant scenes, but Fry's penalty relegated him to third place behind Edwards, leaving the Coventry team with very contrasting emotions.

Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester Racing) wrapped up a successful weekend with two fifth places showing he is getting to grips with the 848EVO, and Aaron Brown (Ladybirds Ducati) proved he his getting back into his racing groove with a 19pt haul from the weekend.

Morris was elated with another two wins to add to his pair from the opening round, "Today was some of the hardest races I have had for years. We had to push every second of the way, but it feels great to come back to Assen and get the race wins."

With maximum points in the championship after four races, Morris (100pts) leads second place rider Edwards with 73pts, with Fry on 65pts.

Round 3 of the Rapid Solicitors Ducati 848 Challenge takes place at the British Superbikes' Thruxton event on 28/29/30 May. Morris will be hoping to continue his winning streak at his home circuit but will face stiff competition from ex-local lad Gilbertson who knows his way around the circuit, and the experienced Fry and Edwards. 

Race 1 Amended Result: 1.Morris, 2.Fry, 3.Gilbertson, 4.Edwards, 5.R Brown, 6.Connolly, 7.A Brown, 8.Holden, 9.Hopkins, 10.Keen, 11.Cheetham, 12.Poole, 13.Cope, 14.Walker, 15.Cruickshank, 16.Poll, 17.Hasler, 18.Poyser, 19.Matthews

Race 2 Result: 1.Morris, 2.Edwards, 3.Fry, 4.Cheetham, 5.R Brown, 6.A Brown, 7.Poole, 8.Holden, 9.Poyser, 10.Hasler, 11.Hopkins, 12.Connolly, 13.Keen, 14.Cruickshank, 15.Cope, 16.Walker

848 Challenge Championship Standings after Assen R2: 1.Leon Morris 100,  2.Mike Edwards 73,  3.Darren Fry 65, 4.Robbie Brown 39, 5.Kenny Gilbertson 32, 6.Mark Cheetham 31, 7.Jamie Poole 27, 8. Aaron Brown 25, 9. Barry Poll 22 = Ricky Holden 22  11.Dan Hopkins 18,  12. Steve Jordan 17 = Alexey Ivanov 17, 14. Ross Connolly 14, 15. Peter Hasler 13, 16. Dean Skipper 12, 17. Jack Keen 9, 18. Stuart Poyser 8, 19. Sy Langford 7, 20. Ben Cope, 4,  21.Dan Cruickshank 3, 22. Alan Walker 2, 23. Clint De Tarnowsky 0, 24. Chris Matthews 0

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