Wet and wild day one at Assen
Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati Effenbert Liberty Racing) set the quickest time in this afternoon’s first qualifying session at Assen, which was finally conditioned by bad weather.
The riders first went out on slicks but soon after it began to rain, making the track slippery and holding back ultimate lap times. The competitors just about managed to get back to the pits in reasonable conditions and then just a few riders ventured out at the end in the wet.
Guintoli was a fraction of a second ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), with an impressive Leon Camier (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) and championship leader Carlos Checa (Ducati Althea Racing) completing the provisional front row.
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) was fifth ahead of Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet), the first BMW runner in the timesheets. Even in these difficult weather conditions, five different manufacturers are in the top six positions.
Two more BMWs were next up, Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad) in eighth ahead of Ayrton Badovini with the Italian team’s S1000RR. Melandri had been fastest in the first practice session in the morning, run in dry conditions.
Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati rider Maxime Berger was ninth fastest, Chaz Davies (MTC ParkinGO Aprilia) rounded out the top ten. The factory Aprilia machine of Eugene Laverty ended up one place behind Davies.
With the top 16 positions likely to stay the same should it rain in tomorrow morning’s final session, the first rider to be excluded will be Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). The Italian has to hope for an improvement in the weather otherwise he will be forced to start from the fifth row of the grid.
Times: 1. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’37.600; 2. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’37.630; 3. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’38.468; 4. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’38.665; 5. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’38.873; 6. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.062; 7. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.125; 8. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.127; 9. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’39.286; 10. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’39.362; 11. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’39.485; 12. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’39.605; 13. Hopkins J. (USA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’39.625; 14. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.770; 15. McCormick B. (CAN) Ducati 1098R 1’39.915; 16. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’40.124; etc.
Honda CBR600RR machines dominated the first Supersport qualifying session, with British rider Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) going top with a time of 1 minute 38.900 seconds. Lowes was just 0.039 quicker than Australian Broc Parkes (Honda Ten Kate Racing Products), who went well in post-Imola testing two weeks back. The Honda trio up front was completed by 23 year-old Frenchman Jules Cluzel, a new Supersport face and so far always at the top this year on his PTR Honda.
Kawasaki ZX-6R riders took the next two places, fourth going to points leader Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu on the sister DeltaFin Lorenzini bike. Imre Toth was a competitive sixth on his Racing Team Toth Honda, while Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) and Massimo Roccoli (Yamaha Bike Service WTR Ten 10) completed the second row.
Three Supersport newcomers also had promising sessions: Jed Metcher (Rivamoto Junior Yamaha) in tenth, Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) in eleventh and 18 year-old American PJ Jacobsen (Bogdanka Honda PTR) twentieth on his first appearance at the Assen track.
Times: 1. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1’38.900; 2. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’38.939; 3. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1’39.589; 4. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.730; 5. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.735; 6. Toth I. (HUN) Honda CBR600RR 1’40.040; 7. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’40.266; 8. Roccoli M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’40.326; etc.
The BMW Italia team powered to the top of Superstock 1000 qualifying today as round 1 winner Sylvain Barrier went quickest with a time of 1 minute 39.580 seconds, half a second slower than his own circuit best lap set last year. Barrier was three-tenths faster than Australian Bryan Staring, the surprise of the day on a Team Pedercini Kawasaki. Third quickest was Barrier’s Italian team-mate Lorenzo Baroni.
The provisional front row is completed by Eddi La Marra with a Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati 1199 Panigale, which made its Superstock 1000 debut at Imola. Frenchman Loris Baz (Kawasaki MRS) continued his good form with fifth quickest time today to follow on from his Imola runner-up slot.
Times: 1. Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.580; 2. Staring B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’39.873; 3. Baroni L. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’40.205; 4. La Marra E. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1’40.394; 5. Baz L. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’40.563; 6. Massei F. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’40.890; 7. Savadori L. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1’40.909; 8. Guarnoni J. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’41.250; etc.
Swiss rider Bastien Chesaux (Honda EAB Ten Kate Junior Team) went quickest in today’s first STK600 qualifying session.
The 20 year-old from Lausanne surprisingly managed to edge out his team-mate and one of the favourites, Michael van den Mark, third quickest and three-tenths from the top. In between the two Ten Kate riders was Belgian Gauthier Duwelz (Yamaha MTM Racing).
Opening round winner Riccardo Russo had a tough start to the weekend, the Italian only going eighth quickest. The promising young Australian Corey Snowsill (Yamaha MTM Racing) had a crash but came away with just a few bruises.
Times: 1. Chesaux B. (SUI) Honda CBR600RR 1’41.983; 2. Duwelz G. (BEL) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.067; 3. Van der Mark M. (NED) Honda CBR600RR 1’42.084; 4. Calero Perez N. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.215; 5. Schacht A. (DEN) Honda CBR600RR 1’42.485; 6. Egea S. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.803; 7. Nestorovic A. (AUS) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.854; 8. Russo R. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’42.888; etc.
– Suzuki Report
Team Crescent FIXI Suzuki’s Leon Camier put in the third-fastest time in today’s rain-hit opening Qualifying session at the Assen World Superbike Championship round in Holland as team mate John Hopkins slithered to 13th.
Camier got out quickly and made the most of the session while it was dry and before the rain started to fall at the Dutch circuit, putting in his fastest time of 1:38.468 in the opening laps. Hopkins, who went out later and was immediately into the wet conditions, was less fortunate and only did two laps, but both GSX-R1000-mounted riders are confident of more to come from both of them tomorrow, rain or shine.
Leon Camier – 3rd, 1:38.468: “In the morning we started with a hard tyre, but the grip level wasn’t so good – probably because the track was quite cold – so we changed to a softer one after about eight or nine laps. I put in some reasonable times and I’m confident I can go quicker given more dry laps. We had an idea that the rain would come in afternoon qualifying, so we made a plan to get out on the track as soon as the session started – and it worked! It began drizzling before the end of the first lap, but I managed to set a good time – third fastest – and I’m happy that our idea worked out so well. If it rains in tomorrow’s qualifying session, we know we’ve qualified for Superpole and that’s a good start.”
John Hopkins – 13th, 1:39.624: “My hand feels pretty good and I feel a lot stronger physically than I did in Imola. Assen is a less-physical circuit and this morning I felt at home on the bike almost straight away. There’s been a few changes to the circuit since I last rode here in 2009 so there’s a few parts I have to learn. I’m comfortable on the parts I already know well, so it’s just a question of improving in a couple of places. I have a really positive feeling about the Crescent GSX-R today. I’ve ridden loads of laps round here in the wet so it’s not going to be a problem if it rains. We got caught out a little bit at the start of this afternoon’s qualifying session, but our aim was to finish in the top 16 and we achieved that goal.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “We started the day well this morning and both riders managed to get some laps in and get used to the track. The hard tyres didn’t work so well because the track was a bit cold and slippery so we switched to some softer ones later in the session and were able to go quicker. Leon’s happy with the bike and could’ve pushed harder if he had needed to. John’s in really good spirits and his hand was strong enough for him to push hard in the sections he knew. All he has to do now is to work on the areas he doesn’t know so well, but he’s a quick learner so I have no doubt that he’ll improve considerably.
“In the afternoon, Leon got out very early and was able to put in a quick lap before the rain came down and made sure of a good position going into tomorrow’s qualifying and Superpole. John didn’t get out as quick, and only did two laps, but I’m happy because he finished well inside the top 16 – ahead of the likes of Haslam, Biaggi and Aoyama.”
– Althea Ducati
Very mixed conditions today at the TT Circuit of Assen where the third round of the World Superbike Championship is taking place this weekend. The Althea Racing team is ready for the challenge that bad weather may present, and will line up on race day with its two riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano.
This morning the Superbike riders were out on track for the first free practice session. On a cold but dry track (16˚C) Carlos and Davide got straight down to work. By mid-session Checa was lapping in under 1m39 and he continued to lower his times from there on in. In the final minutes he recorded a fast lap of 1m37.7, his best of the session, which assured him of overall second position at the session’s end. Giugliano made good progress during the 45 minutes available, registering his best lap time in the final phase of the session. A best of 1m38.5 positioned him eleventh at the end of this first free practice.
In the afternoon’s qualifying session the track temperature went down to 8 degrees. Carlos went straight out, making a couple of immediately fast laps which placed him fourth. Davide, lying in nineteenth position after the first couple of laps was still working to find his rhythm when, just minutes after the session opened, rain began to fall, forcing all riders to return to the pits. It was of course impossible to improve on lap times after that and so riders instead used the available time to test wet set-ups. The Althea Racing team will continue to work tomorrow, despite the fact that weather conditions for race day remain a complete unknown.
Carlos Checa: “I was aware that rain could catch us out at any time and that I therefore needed to make some fast laps right away, in the first minutes, also because if it rains tomorrow morning, today’s session will be what sets the positions for the Superpole. So I’m fairly satisfied, we’re fourth for now and will continue to work on set-ups tomorrow so that we are prepared for Sunday’s races, whatever the conditions.”
Davide Giugliano: “We went back on track when it started to rain hard but unfortunately we left it late and in the short time available I was unable to find the right feeling. I hope that it doesn’t rain tomorrow morning for second qualifying because starting from 19th place will not be easy – from that grid position the first corner is a long way off and you see nothing. If, on the other hand, we have the chance to fight it out in the Superpole – even if it’s a wet one – we can at least try to improve our position. So I hope for a dry one tomorrow, then if it rains on race day I don’t mind as I’ve always gone ok in the wet
– Honda Report
The weather had a dramatic effect on this afternoon’s opening qualifying session for the third round World Superbike championship event at Assen in The Netherlands as rain fell just as riders took to the circuit.
Following a dry free practice this morning, local radar forecasts predicted rain at 15.30, the scheduled start of first qualifying, with most riders trying to get a ‘banker’ lap in before it arrived.
Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea set the fifth fastest time but his team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama was unable to set a competitive time, ending the session in provisional 21st place as French rider Sylvain Guintoli went fastest.
Rea had spent the morning session continuing the work on the front end feeling from his Honda CBR1000RR, while a technical problem and SBK’s new-for-2012 ‘one-bike’ rule limited Aoyama’s track time.
Jonathan Rea – P5 1m38.873s
It was quite a weird session this afternoon, to be honest. My guys in the pitbox were monitoring the weather really closely and we could see on the radar that bang on 3.30 there was going to be a shower, with more to follow. So we knew that the first lap was going to be crucial and went out with the softer tyre but already on the first lap I got some spray on my visor. So you could say I took a slightly more conservative approach to getting a banker in, and even then it was getting heavier. How the other guys went the same speed as they did in the first session is beyond me – I wasn’t wanting to take too many risks. In the free practice we made some OK steps with the bike, which is completely different to the race set-up we had here last year. I’m still lacking a little bit of front-end feel but I think it’s the right way to go and we’re slowly getting it sorted. So, this afternoon was a bit of a wasted session – I was the only guy to go out on intermediate tyres and the feeling from them wasn’t that good to be honest. If it’s like this again tomorrow, I’ll take to opportunity to go out and build my speed on them because it looks like Sunday might be the same conditions that we had today.
Hiroshi Aoyama – P21 1m41.768s
We didn’t start so well this morning with a technical problem so we missed the beginning of this morning’s session. The team fixed the problem very quickly so I was able to go out for the second half of the free practice. We wanted to try some things but we didn’t have enough time, which was a pity. We were going to re-confirm this afternoon but the rain came so it wasn’t possible. We knew the rain was coming but wanted to check the setting with the harder tyre – I pushed as hard as I could on that tyre but it was quite difficult to get the feeling. So, it’s been a pity to lose the opportunity to check things this morning and to make a good lap time this afternoon. We have another qualifying session tomorrow so I really hope it will be dry for that.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
We played around looking for some improvements on some known settings with Jonathan this morning, trying to keep things moving forward. He rode on the harder tyre throughout the session, too. We still haven’t quite found the correct setting for the dry but, with the harder tyre, it wasn’t so bad in the end. This morning we had a technical problem with Hiroshi’s bike which sidelined him for most of the session. This was really disappointing because we needed the time quite badly as we search for a better setting, and that was the morning pretty much lost. In the afternoon the riders only got one dry lap. Jonathan is the master at going fast out of the box so there were no problems, but Hiroshi is a little slower getting up to speed and, with only one lap, it was difficult for him. On wet settings, Jonathan was in the top three, but we may get another chance to work on that tomorrow.
– BMW Report
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport had a positive start to the third round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship at the “TT Circuit Assen” (NED). In the first free practice this morning, factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) was fastest on his BMW S 1000 RR. His team-mate, Leon Haslam (GBR) finished the practice in sixth. Times from the first qualifying practice held this afternoon fell quite short due to rain showers. Only a few minutes after the start of the session it started to rain and all riders returned to the pits after having completed just a couple of laps. It continued to rain throughout the session so it was not possible to improve on lap times. Marco’s time was the eighth fastest, while Leon qualified a provisional 14th. Marco and Leon both did their laps on used tyres while many of their competitors went out on fresh rubber. If it also rains for tomorrow’s second qualifying session, both will have qualified for the Superpole. Marco and Leon used the rest of the session to put in some laps for testing settings and tyres for the wet.
BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team rider Michel Fabrizio (ITA) finished the first qualifying practice in sixth in front of his team-mate Ayrton Badovini (ITA), who was seventh.
Marco Melandri: Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:37.582 min (P1)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:39.127 min (P8)
“Today’s conditions during the qualifying session were difficult. It was dry in the beginning, but we expected the rain to come very soon. We knew we had to get a good lap time right at the start. I went out with a used tyre, and the bike felt quite good straight away. As expected it started to rain after a few laps, and I am happy that we are safely qualified as of now. I went out in the rain to get a feel for the bike in wet conditions. It was the first time for me on the BMW in the rain, but I got more and more confident after a couple of laps. Overall, we have got good data for Saturday, no matter what conditions. I am looking forward to tomorrow. The team is very focused and working well thanks to everybody.”
Leon Haslam: Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:38.188 min (P6)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:39.770 min (P14)
“These were the changing conditions that are normal for Assen. In the first qualifying, we went out on a hard tyre and only got one lap on it before it rained so I was quite lucky to be in the top 16. After that we rolled out on the wet tyres. It was the first time we used the new bike in the wet, so we gathered some important information. We did have a few issues; some things did not work, but I feel things are good and we know which way we need to head. I am looking forward to tomorrow. In Imola we were already close to the top and we made some more improvements at the test at Mugello this week. Hopefully we will have stable conditions and can progress further.”
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
“Overall this was a very positive day. All the hard work that the guys in the workshop and at the track have put in during the last few weeks seems to be paying off. The days following the races in Imola were busy – we tested a further day there before heading to Mugello for another test this week. It seems that the set-up solutions also work well here on this track. In the dry our riders were at the front. Of course, the set-up has not been perfect yet, but we are heading the right way. In the afternoon’s session both riders qualified provisionally for Superpole. In the wet we gathered important data as well. Leon unfortunately had a small crash this afternoon but this should not affect our programme for tomorrow. We are confident that we are in good shape for the weekend. The main target is to be ready under all conditions.”