|— Ducati Report
Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga will line up on the second and fourth row respectively for tomorrow’s Superbike races at the TT Circuit in Assen, Michel having qualified in eighth position, Noriyuki in fifteenth.
In morning qualifying, the lap times began to fall in the latter stages of the 45-minute session. Both Michel and Noriyuki were losing valuable tenths through the third split, which prevented them from putting together very fast laps, but both riders nevertheless improved on yesterday’s performances, with Nori taking eight tenths of a second off his best time, and Michel half a second. They thus concluded the second qualifying session in sixth and ninth position, easily qualifying for the afternoon’s Superpole.
Superpole 1. Both riders made a first exit on the race tyre but, with so many riders putting together such fast laps, Michel and Nori both decided to exit again, this time on a qualifier, to ensure safe passage to the second phase.
Superpole 2. Noting that the level of grip between the race tyre and qualifier were similar, both riders replicated the first session,going out first on one then the other. Michel was able to make an extremely fast lap on the race tyre, faster than the lap he made later in the session on a qualifier. That first lap time meant that he finished the second phase in eighth place. Noriyuki unfortunately was not able to put together a clean lap, despite his best efforts, and he concluded with the fifteenth fastest time.
Superpole 3. Michel, having already made use of the two available qualifiers, went back out on race rubber but couldn’t get below 1m36, thus closing in eighth place, securing a place on the second row for tomorrow’s races.
“Second row for tomorrow is not too bad after quite a difficult weekend. I thought that times would drop with the qualifiers but in the end I made my best laps on the race tyre. I’m happy with that, because the laps finally came together, and it gives me confidence for tomorrow’s races. It’s a breath of air after the last two difficult rounds. Tomorrow will of course be tough once again and I guess they’ll be some close racing but I’ll do my best to stick with the leaders.”
“I’m disappointed with today’s Superpole result. I was really pushing but the competition has the advantage here and I wasn’t able to put together consistently fast laps. I don’t quite understand what the problem is but I hope to make strong starts in tomorrow’s races and will do everything possible to take away as many points as I can.”
— Althea Ducati
The Assen Superpole saw both Althea Racing riders secure places on the second row for tomorrow’s races. At the end of the third phase, Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne had registered the sixth and seventh fastest times which will allow them to be up fighting with the leading group.
Carlos Checa spent the practices preparing for the races but without losing sight of the importance of the grid position, fundamental in racing as close and competitive as this.
“We’re looking good with renard to race pace”, said Carlos. “We’ve concentrated on preparing for tomorrow. In Superpole we set the same time with both the qualifier and the race tyre. Our grid position is not bad and tomorrow I will try to stick with the leading group and not let them get away early on. Tyre-wear will also be an important factor, hopefully my riding style will be an advantage in this respect.”
Satisfying results for Shane Byrne too, who’s back among the frontrunners, having set the seventh fastest time to secure a place on the second row next to Carlos. “We’ve been mainly preparing for tomorrow”, said Shane, “and the times registered demonstrate that we can fight for good results. It will be important to make a good start so as to not lose contact with those starting on the front row. Overall I’m very happy with the work that we’ve carried out in these sessions.”
Genesio Bevilacqua, team owner, declared, “This is the first track where we haven’t tested beforehand and the first job was to understand the new chicane. The qualifying was difficult and demanding for everyone and we’re happy with the work completed. Shane has returned to a good level and Carlos has proved himself to be a top rider.”
— Yamaha Report
Crutchlow and Toseland take ninth and tenth on the grid at Assen for raceday
Yamaha Sterilgarda riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland made it through the first Superpole heat this afternoon to secure ninth and tenth place on the third row of the grid for tomorrow’s two World Superbike races at the Assen TT circuit. Both riders had spent the previous qualifying sessions working on their set ups for the afternoon’s Superpole heats and had headed in to the Superbike shootout with confidence. They both made it through the first heat comfortably on race tyres, then switched to qualifiers midway through the second session. Crutchlow struggled to improve on his time in the second session leaving him just outside the top eight at the end. Team mate Toseland was on form and had nearly completed a hot lap which would have taken him through to the final eight when a violent wheelie three corners from the end at high speed disrupted his time.
Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (9th, 1’36.027)
“I struggled with my qualifier tyre in the second Superpole heat, and couldn’t make it through to the third. Both James and I are still working on some stability issues which could be seen on track as well. We need to work hard in tomorrow morning’s session to see what we can change in the set up to make another step forward. We’re all working really hard, and on the positive side the electronics issues we’ve had in the past are now working very well for us.”
James Toseland, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (10th, 1’36.061)
“Frustrated is the word! It was a real surprise for the bike to do that in a place where I’ve never had that before, it kicked up and wheelied at over 180mph in fifth gear, it was a bit touch and go there but luckily I was able to save it. The lap was good up to that point, I only had two corners left to go and would have been through to the top eight and the third session. We’ve had so much work to do to get where we are, the team has done a great job trying to get the bike to work here. Tenth on the grid is not ideal and we’re not sure about tyre life, depending on temperature tomorrow we might not be able to use the softer race tyre, everyone is waiting to see how warm it will be. I’m not too worried about race pace, it’s all about what happens in those first few laps. The new fast section has effectively deleted a passing place so I’ll have to get off the line well and see how we go.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager
“We still have one practice session left tomorrow morning, for sure we will never give up so we will spend the session working hard to make more improvements ahead of the two races. We will definitely find something to help us. James was very unlucky on his hot lap in the second Superpole session, it was good he managed to save it safely. He’s got a good race pace so needs a good start tomorrow and we will see what he can do. Cal has shown this weekend that he also has a competitive pace, especially on worn tyres so we are confident both riders can perform tomorrow.”
— BMW Report
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport continued the upward trend from the last couple of weeks in Assen (NED) on Saturday. Troy Corser (AUS) achieved the team’s best ever qualifying result in the FIM Superbike World Championship. The 38-year-old finished the Superpole 3 qualifying in third. Ruben Xaus (ESP) will start Sunday’s races from 12th. Prior to this the team’s best qualifying position was fifth for Troy at the previous round in Valencia (ESP).
Bike: BMW S 1000 RR
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:35.621 min / Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:36.092 min / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:35.306 min
“We have come quite a long way. The team has done a lot of work on the bike, and we have been testing a lot. Finally the work has started to pay off. The bike is quite fast and feels stable, and I feel quite comfortable riding it. We were aiming for the front row, and it would be great to finish the races like today’s Superpole. I am looking forward to tomorrow. ”
Bike: BMW S 1000 RR
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:36.872 min / Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:36.426 min / Fastest lap Superpole 2: 1:36.094 min
“The team did an incredible job with the bike. We have made big steps forward in terms of traction and rideability. My problem is that I still do not feel the bike properly. I simply need more mileage and time on the bike. However, I am always pushing to the limit. I had a minor, controlled crash on my final flying lap in Superpole 2. I was mid corner and mid throttle. I think a little more would have been possible today. Congratulations to Troy and the team as they did a great job.”
Davide Tardozzi (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team Manager):
“Today is another small step forward. We have been climbing up the field since the first test in Portimão in January, which reflects very well on the work done by the riders and on the way the team has improved the bike. The team really did a good job.”
— Suzuki Report
Team Suzuki Alstare’s Leon Haslam finished Superpole in fourth place and will start tomorrow’s pair of 22-lap races at the Assen World Superbike Championship fourth round in Holland from the front row of the grid.
The young Briton was always in contention to win Superpole, but fellow countryman Jonathan Rea (Honda) had tested at Assen recently and used his greater knowledge of the new section of the track to good advantage and stormed to his first-ever World Superbike Superpole victory. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) took second with Troy Corser (BMW) third.
Haslam’s team mate Sylvain Guintoli improved from yesterday but was unable to get his qualifiers to work and ended up 13th overall.
Leon Haslam – 4th, 1:35.330: “I am on the front row so I’m happy. Anything else would’ve been a bit of a disappointment the way the season is going, and although Pole would’ve been good, front row is fine. I’m pretty happy with the bike on race tyres, but I didn’t go any quicker on qualifying tyres, so that’s good for the races tomorrow. I’m not sure why we didn’t go any faster on qualifying tyres and it’s an area that we’ll have to look at next time out.
“My last lap today would’ve been faster but I made a little mistake in the last sector and lost time. I’m not sure if it would’ve been fast enough to beat Jonathan but it might’ve been good enough to get ahead of Jakub and Troy. It’s going to be a long, hard day tomorrow, but I don’t usually suffer physically in races so I’m looking forward to fighting for podiums again and keeping my series lead.”
Sylvain Guintoli – 13th, 1:36.327: “Yesterday was pretty bad and although today was better, I should’ve improved more and gone faster. At least today I felt more confident in the front end and was able to push harder, but I didn’t get much feel from my qualifying tyres this afternoon and so couldn’t go any quicker. We need to do some more work on the rear end and tomorrow I need to make two really good starts and be in the leading group. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be a very long day indeed.”
— Ten Kate
Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two fourth round World Superbike championship races from pole position after setting the fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole shoot-out at Assen in Holland.
It marks the Northern Irishman’s maiden world championship pole start and was made in emphatic style as Rea was the only rider to dip under the 1’35s barrier at the recently revised 4.452km Assen circuit.
Rea will be joined on the front row for tomorrow’s two 22-lap races by Jakub Smrz, Troy Corser and fellow Briton, Leon Haslam, while his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Max Neukirchner, has work to do from the fourth row of the grid after qualifying 16th fastest.
Jonathan Rea – P1 1’34.944s
I’m so excited! It’s my first ever world championship pole position and Ronald [ten Kate] said to me before: “You’re not sweating here – you need to push harder and do one fast lap!” But it didn’t even feel fast; I just clipped all my apexes and with the grip of the qualifier I was able to open the throttle earlier and the lap time even surprised me. But my team are really pulling out all the stops at the moment. We had a test here last week and I’ve been staying here the last couple of weeks in my motor-home behind the workshop. But it’s down to business tomorrow and I think my CBR is good enough on race pace. There’ll be three or four out there who can go at the front so I’ll just put in 22 big ones and see where we end up after that.
Max Neukirchner – P16 1’36.581s
I’m very disappointed, of course, because we felt we were really making some progress here. I got held up behind Haga in Superpole 2 but didn’t have enough to get by and, of course, you only get one real good lap out of a qualifier so that was it. We didn’t really find anything more after qualifying this morning and I wasn’t able to go any faster this afternoon. The bike is much better than it was in Valencia but the fourth row is still not good enough. I’ll do my best to get some good starts in the two races tomorrow and try to make up some places in the early laps.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Big thanks and congratulations to Jonathan for giving us a pole position at our home race. He’s in such a good rhythm with his race set-up and on race rubber but has struggled to put a single fast lap together. However, he pulled it out when it really mattered in Superpole 3. One thing for sure, though, is that there’s never an easy race in Superbike. We also live in two worlds with Max down in 16th. He has been moving forward all weekend until this afternoon when progress came to a full stop in free practice and Superpole, which is really a shame. He’ll have to dig deep tomorrow, but I still believe that top ten finishes are possible. I’d also like to congratulate the junior squad here for taking their Ten Kate Honda CBRs to pole position with Maxime Berger in Superstock 1000 and Florian Marino also winning in Superstock 600.
Kenan Sofuoglu maintained his domination of the fourth round World Supersport championship event at Assen in Holland by taking pole position in this afternoon’s second qualifying session.
The Turkish ace, currently lying second in the championship standings, has topped every session of the weekend thus far at the 4.452km Dutch circuit and he underlined his scintillating form by being the only rider to break into a 1’37s lap, leaving a half-second gap between himself and second place rider, Eugene Laverty.
After a successful test at Assen last week, Sofuoglu’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Michele Pirro, has also been among the leaders in each timed session. The Italian rider set the third-fastest time over the two qualifying sessions to secure another front row start for tomorrow’s 21-lap race.
Kenan Sofuoglu – P1 1’37.908s
It was a really fast lap but I cannot honestly say it was perfect. I think perhaps I could have found another three or four tenths on a perfect lap. I did try for that, but I pushed a little too hard and crashed at the hairpin. It wasn’t a problem for me but my chief mechanic was a bit scared when he saw me riding back with my hand resting on the tank. It was only because the clip-on was broken! But what is more important to me is that I have been able to do consistently fast lap times – especially during the full race distance that we ran this morning. It showed that both me and the bike are ready to win tomorrow’s race.
Michele Pirro – P3 1’38.567s
The front row is not so bad and, for sure, the bike is not so bad! I tried to push even more but I had a bit of a problem with movement at the rear of the bike. I think Kenan had a similar problem but maybe he pushed a little harder during the test we had last week. I’m confident that we can find a solution and we will try for something new during the warm-up. But I am happy to be on the front row here for my team at their home race. With Kenan, who is very fast, in pole position, everyone is smiling and it should be a good race tomorrow when I’ll do my best to go with him.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Kenan has shown some true world class riding during the weekend so far. He has a very good race pace and it was an excellent lap for him to be the only rider breaking into the 1’37s times. With Michele on the front row and displaying great form, it shows how well the entire team is performing and we hope for another good performance from both sides in tomorrow’s race. The weekend has already started well, with pole positions in Supersport, Superbike and the two Superstock classes with the junior members. We’ll be looking to continue that form into Sunday.