Chris Vermeulen, onboard his Kawasaki in Assen on Sunday, hopes to be back to his best in Monza next month.
Chris Vermeulen, onboard his Kawasaki in Assen on Sunday, hopes to be back to his best in Monza next month. Graeme Brown

Vermeulen gears up for Italy

CHRIS Vermeulen will turn his attention to Monza after failing to finish at the third round of the World Superbikes Championship yesterday morning.

The Yandina product was forced to pull out of race one at Assen, Netherlands, because of leg cramp as he continues his comeback from a knee injury.

The Kawasaki rider said he had been happy with his improvement, however, was now eyeing a full weekend of racing at round four in Monza, Italy on May 8.

“My leg just cramped up and I had to stop after a few laps,” he said.

“My pace was not so bad and I was holding down a points-scoring position, but I just could not get to the end.”

Vermeulen qualified 18th fastest for the race and was just over two seconds off the pace in qualifying and practice.

He lasted 14 laps before being forced into the garage in race one and took no part in race two.

Vermeulen originally injured his knee at round one of the 2009 season at Phillip Island before undergoing a full knee reconstruction in the middle of last year.

He said he was fast approaching full fitness and hoped to be competitive in Italy.

“This is the first time I have been able to feel the bike really working, and I made some set-up changes because I was pushing at a decent level sometimes this weekend,” he said.

“I am happy with what the team has done but we have a lot of work still to do, just because I am a long way behind my teammates in learning the bike at present. I think I should be ready for a full weekend of racing at Monza.”

Ducati's Carlos Checa maintained his strong championships lead with a good showing at Assen.

The Spaniard finished third and first in races one and two respectively to open up a 33-point lead over Aprilia's Max Biaggi.

Biaggi's fellow Italian countryman Marco Melandri rounds out the top three. England's Jonathan Rea won race one on his Honda, putting him in fourth place on the standings.

Troy Corser remains the best placed of the Australians in 12th spot. The BMW rider had a mixed weekend, finishing sixth in race one before being forced to retire in race two.


Results and standings following round three.

Race One: 1. Jonathan Rea (1:36.905), 2. Max Biaggi (1:36.928), 3. Carlso Checa (1:37.022), 4. Marco Melandri (1:37.015), 5. Michel Fabrizio (1:36.892).

Race Two: 1. Carlos Checa (1:35.292), 2. Max Biaggi (1.36.302), 3. Jonathan Rea (1:36.634), 4. Leon Camier (1:36.476), 5. Leon Haslam (1:36.816).

Standings: 1. Carlos Checa (Ducati, 132 points), 2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia, 89), 3. Marco Melandri (Yamaha, 85), 4. Jonathan Rea (Honda, 79), 5. Leon Haslam (BMW, 68).