Tom Sykes claims his first Tissot-Superpole of the season
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam complete the first row for tomorrow’s two WorldSBK races
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has won his first Tissot-Superpole of the season after a tense final 15-minute shoot-out in Assen. The 4.542km Cathedral of Speed once again produced an exciting climax to the WorldSBK qualifying session in which the top-8 riders on the grid for tomorrow’s two 21 lap races were covered by a second. Today’s Pole Position is the 25th of Tom’s career, his first since Magny-Cours 2014. Joining Sykes on the front row will be his team mate Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils).
Tom Sykes – P1 – “We are definitely getting there now. It feels that this pole has been a long time coming but I am very happy. In Aragon we had a small indication that the Ninja ZX-10R and myself are starting to work as one package again. I know we can still improve the Ninja underneath me but as long as we can keep working in this direction, I am happy. A lot of credit has to go to my crew chief Marcel and the boys in the garage. We have had the mechanics working hard and making a lot of changes. We have definitely got the speed and now I want that speed for 20 more laps here.”
Jonathan Rea – P2 – “I am happy to be on the front row because it is important here at Assen and also I have a strong race pace so it gives me a chance to be in the front at least. My lap was a good one but I made some small mistakes. Tom did a good job and that is an impressive lap time with the 2015 regulations in place. I really did want the pole position today because when I felt the qualifying tyre on the out lap, I though I could give it a go. I just overcooked it in T1 and it upset the next two corners. When I saw the lap time I knew we could be competitive for the front row but not for pole position.”
Leon Haslam – P3 – “As for the flying lap on a race tyre we are quite fast as we demonstrated even in Superpole, but in terms of consistency we still have some work to do in order to be able to easily repeat our performance. We are definitely making progress. Ironically, the qualifier tyre doesn’t help us so in the end third place was a pleasant surprise. Just like at Aragon we are expecting a difficult mission, but considering how close we were able to get in Race 2 I think we will be able to do well here tomorrow.”
Row two was decided in the final minute as Chaz Davies valiant effort to overhaul Sykes failed after a mistake at the exit of Turn 9, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team rider will start fourth with local hero Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) fifth and sixth respectively..
Chaz Davies – P4 – “In Superpole I had a problem with the blipper system during my fast lap and the gear didn’t engage properly. I lost three or four tenths there as a result which cost me a place on the front row I think. For the rest, we made a step forward this morning but I feel that we’re still struggling when it comes to keeping the bike flat when changing direction. As can sometimes happen when we improve one thing, as we did this morning, we find that we take away from another area so we are still looking for the right compromise. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow in warm-up but it won’t be easy considering the cold conditions early in the morning.”
Michael van der Mark – P5 – “Today was really good and we tried a few little things in set-up this morning, trying to solve a couple of problems we had yesterday. We found a good solution and I was pretty quick in FP3 and then even faster in FP4. We were quite consistent, too, so I was very happy with that. In final qualifying of Superpole I think my lap could have been a little faster but I’m quite happy with P5. To be on the second row for my home round is a good position to start. Our race pace is OK, although we still need to find a couple of tenths, but I’m quite confident for the races tomorrow.”
Alex Lowes – P6 – “We still have a way to go to get the GSX-R to where we want it to be, and for me to be able to ride it with full confidence, but we have made steps forward so it’s been a positive day. The lads are all working hard and time is against us a little bit but we will do what we can tomorrow and keep pushing forward.”
On the third row of the grid Xavi Fores (Aruba.it Racing Ducati SBK Team) will line up alongside Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) in what was the most closely fought Tissot-Superpole of the season so far.
Javier Forés – P7 – “I’m pleased today, and more comfortable with the bike. This morning we worked a lot with the used tyre to find a good setting for tomorrow’s races and we were able to improve our pace, I think that we’re more in line with the faster riders. In Superpole I was able to make better use of the qualifier although I would have liked to do a little more. Anyway, seventh isn’t a bad starting position, considering how we were doing yesterday. So I hope I can make a strong start, on the outside heading into turn 1, and complete two good races.”
Jordi Torres – P8 – “Yesterday we improved quite a bit, but today we took a definite step forward. I’m still lacking a few tenths on my race pace and here at Assen a good feeling with the front end is important, so there is still room for improvement in that area. In Superpole I was lacking experience. I still am unable to take 100% advantage of the soft tyre. I really need to change my style because with so much grip the bike reacts differently. After the first lap where I was trying to figure out how to use the qualifier tyre I tried to push hard in order to get another fast time on the boards, but I didn’t have any more grip toward the end. Anyway what counts are the races tomorrow.”
Earlier Guintoli and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) were the two riders to progress from Superpole 1, with the Argentine claiming tenth place ahead of Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati).
Sylvain Guintoli – P9 – “Superpole actually went better than we thought it would because, before that, I wasn’t feeling that confident. We are still working on trying to adapt the bike to my riding style and, of course, I’m trying to adapt my riding style to the bike. I didn’t feel that good after FP4, so it’s been a little up and down this weekend. On the qualifier in Superpole 1 I did one fast lap, one cool-down lap and then had time to do another fast one. And it was the same in Superpole 2 – going faster on the second lap with the qualifier – because I’m still not quite confident at first with the extra grip. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but race day is race day and I’ve always been more of a race person than a practice person so hopefully we can improve in the two races.”
Nico Terol – P12 – “This morning we made some tests to decide which strategy to use and by the end of qualifying I had found good feeling with the bike. Unfortunately I was then lacking that feeling in the free practice and was unable to make the most of the qualifying tyre in Superpole. I’m angry with myself because it’s not going as I would like, I feel frustrated with the fact I can’t bring out what I have inside because I know I’m capable of better results. Now I must concentrate on working hard, keeping calm and learning from these errors in order to prepare for tomorrow’s races and make the most of warm-up in order to be able to complete two good races.”
While Alex Lowes battled through the electronic issues that the Suzuki squad face in adapting to their new Magenti Marelli ECU Frenchman Randy De Puniet could only manage 18th on the grid.
Randy de Puniet – “It was not a good day for me as we haven’t managed to find the solution I was looking for with the engine brake so we struggled in all of today’s sessions. I also suffered with the tyre grip, almost high-siding twice because of this and with vibration on the qualifier in Superpole, so we are 18th on the grid. This is not where I want to be and it is a difficult weekend coming straight after Aragon. I really hope for a good race tomorrow but in this condition I’m not sure where it is possible to finish.”
Paul Denning – Team Suzuki Manager “The challenges faced by the team here in Assen, in terms of getting the bike running well with the new Magneti Marelli ECU, have not reduced. A full day spent on the test bench this week in Holland (thanks to Hoegee Performance for the kind use of their facility) showed very positive progress but did not relate well to the track. We are finding many new problems, hidden software issues and strategies that work in simulation but the bike is not responding in the same way on the track. Despite this, progress is being made. Alex has probably out-performed the bike to be honest, and has done an incredible job to qualify on the second row. There have been numerous frustrations over the weekend and we have not been able to string consistent laps together as the top guys have. With that in mind, we hope to make further progress on the settings tonight and if Alex can finish two races tomorrow and score good points we will all be happy. Randy, with less experience of the bike, has suffered the same problems but with an even bigger effect on his potential. We are doing everything we can to improve the situation, but simply copying the settings of Alex is not necessarily going to produce the results – we have to understand more what Randy needs and try our best to make the system react in a better way.”
Jules Cluzel re-ignites title ambition with Dutch WSS Pole Position
Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will start tomorrow’s fourth round of the World Supersport Championship from Pole Position after a closely fought qualifying session at the 4.542km TT circuit in Assen saw him edge current championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) by 0.137s. The pair will be joined on the front row of the grid by American PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) who will be aiming to make it three times onto the podium in 2015.
For Cluzel it was his third Pole Position of the year and the Frenchman is hoping that the bad luck he has suffered in the last two races is well and truly behind him.
Row two comprises Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), the Englishman hoping to give the Dutch team something to smile about in their home race. Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will start fifth alongside a rejuvenated Christian Gamarino (Go Eleven Kawasaki) who achieved a career best qualifying position in sixth.
Kevin Wahr (SMS Racing Honda) claimed his best qualifying position of the year in twelfth, a fraction behind Thai winner Ratthapark Wilairot (CORE Motorsport Thailand Honda) who suffered another crash during the session, to leaving himself with work to do from eleventh on the grid.
Record lap gives Savadori STK1000 Pole in Assen
Pole Position for the second FIM Superstock 1000cc race of the season at Assen has been taken by Lorenzo Savadori (Nuova M2 Racing Aprilia) who stormed to the top spot courtesy of the best ever STK1000 lap of the legendary Dutch track – 1.36.998, to claim his second Pole Position in a row.
The remaining two places on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s 14 lap race were claimed by Raffaele de Rosa (Althea Racing Ducati) and round one winner Roberto Tamburini (Team MotoxRacing BMW) who left it late to move into contention after a record breaking session that saw the top-4 swap positions on more than twenty occasions during the 30 minutes.
Row two will see Florian Marino (MRS Yamaha) who fell without injury towards the end of qualifying, Ondrej Jezek (Triple-M by Barni Ducati) and Kev Coghlan (MRS Yamaha).
European Superstock 600 Championship
The third round of the FIM Europe Superstock 600cc Championship, held at the iconic Cathedral of Speed that is the TT circuit in Assen was won after a long fight among five riders. At the end the winner was Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) who maintained his 100% winning record in the series. The youngster, who arrived to the championship thanks to the help of Kenan Sofuoglu, took his 3rd race win of the year (4th of his career) by 0.680s ahead of Michael Rinaldi (San Carlo Team Italia) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) who completed the podium.
Hugo Clere (MG Competition) claimed a career best 4th, just missing out on a podium finish, whilst Julian Puffe (MTM – HS Kawasaki) had a lonely final part of the race to finish 5th – his best ever result.
The top 6 was completed on the final lap by local rider Rob Hartog (MTM – HS Kawasaki) who overhauled Federico Caricasulo (Pata Honda Junior Team) in the closing stages.
Razgatlioglu heads to Imola for the 4th round of the series with a maximum 75 points, and sits 30 points clear of Michael Rinaldi in the overall standings.
European Junior Cup
The grid for tomorrow’s 10 lap European Junior Cup race at Assen has been decided, with Estonian Hannes Soomer (Lub Line Auto24Ring) starting from Pole Position alongside Italian Emanuele Pusceddu (SK & Itaba Moto) and local rider Karlo Slager (Start/RT Racing Support).
Championship leader after MotorLand Aragon Javier Orellana (Europ Foods) will start from 4th.