Alex Lowes tops wet Assen WorldSBK Day One
FP1 at the TT Circuit Assen got underway with rain falling and a wet track under grey skies. With the forecast for the rest of the weekend still unsure, the usual lack of track action in wet conditions was replaced by a good amount of activity on the circuit and riders were keen to begin working on a wet setup should it be needed for either of the WorldSBK races this weekend.
Riders were initially tentative in testing out conditions around the Circuit van Drenthe, with MV Agusta rider Leon Camier and Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea proving the first pacesetters, and small crashes and incidents characterized the session as the riders sought the limit.
Karel Abraham, Markus Reiterberger, Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies were all among those who crashed during the session, with the Welshman taking a tumble in the dying minutes. Nicky Hayden also had a run off track when the Kentucky rider found the limit, but stayed on the bike and got back on track quickly.
Rea spent most of the session with a clear advantage of over a second and a half, before other riders began to push and improve their laps to hunt down the Champion’s time. Teammate Tom Sykes eventually took top honours, going fastest by 0.748 from Rea, followed by the Yamaha pairing of Guintoli and Lowes.
Conditions didn’t improve in the afternoon, with Alex Lowes topping the timesheets from FP1’s fastest man Tom Sykes. Lowes’ Yamaha teammate Sylvain Guintoli was third quickest, as the Pata Yamaha duo again put in a strong performance after a strong FP1 from the Crescent squad.
P1 – Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“The weather has been a bit damp and while you always prefer to ride in the dry, I feel quite good. It’s the first time that I’ve ridden the Yamaha in the wet and we made a few changes but my feeling was quite good. I’m happy and hoping for better weather tomorrow, but if it’s wet I’ve got good speed so hopefully we’ve got all the bases covered.”
P2 – Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team
“Though some guys had an incredible pace from the start, I was struggling to get the ZX10R to turn into the corner. We had some problems but fair play to my crew they worked frantically to improve the bike. Grip was an issue for us but I feel that we’re a lot closer to where we need to be. We need to fine tune the general setup slightly and get some assistance from the electronics package but overall it’s not a bad way to end the first day at Assen. The temperature was an issue today for us but I’m happy and relaxed for tomorrow’s race.”
P3 – Sylvain Guintoli – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“The bike has a lot of mechanical grip and the feeling was good straight away from the first laps. We were strong today because of the grip and also we have two riders who have a lot of experience in the wet. Alex comes from racing in the wet in Britain and it’s no secret that I always like riding in the wet too. We did a good job today.”
Barni Racing’s Xavi Forés was the fastest Ducati in fourth, ahead of the ever-improving Nicky Hayden onboard his Honda Fireblade.
Nicky Hayden – P5
“It has been a good learning day for me. At some point in the season I would have had to try the bike and the Pirelli tyres in the wet, so it’s all experience for me. It was not easy at the beginning, because if you’re riding slowly in these conditions it takes longer for the tyres to warm up, so then it’s harder to get a good feeling from them. This morning I stayed out for almost the entire session and managed to get comfortable with the bike, while this afternoon we started to work a little bit with the setup. It has been a good day and a fifth place is definitely not a bad result; let’s see how it goes and what weather we encounter tomorrow.”
Reigning Champion Jonathan Rea ended the day in sixth after a technical problem at the final turn in FP2, ahead of Davide Giugliano on his Aruba.it Ducati and Lorenzo Savadori, who put in a late charge to gain access to Tissot-Superpole 2 on his Aprilia.
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #34) – 1:54.267 (7th)
“Today the conditions were far from perfect, but we still managed to make a good progression, improving our lap times at each exit on track. I progressively gained confidence with the front and, if we had been able to make another attempt before the downpour at the end of FP2, we would probably have gained another half second, but what matters the most is going straight into Superpole 2. We still have work to do, however, to improve rear grip, especially under acceleration. The forecast for tomorrow is still uncertain, unfortunately. I know I can be fast in the wet, but honestly I would prefer a dry track, or at least stable conditions.”
Home hero Michael van der Mark kept cool under pressure and went straight through to Superpole 2 in difficult conditions, in P9, just ahead of Aragón’s double winner and Championship P2 man Chaz Davies on the second Aruba.it Ducati.
P9 – Michael van der Mark – Honda World Superbike Team
“It’s been a long time since we rode in the wet so I went out and step by step went faster and then I got a little bit too happy and from one lap to another I went too fast into a corner and crashed. The team did an awesome job to get me out for the last ten minutes and on the last lap I improved, so I was happy that after the crash I improved my lap time. This afternoon it was wet again but slowly drying, and I was making progress. I had some problems with the grip and it’s still not really fixed but I’m sure it will be if it’s wet tomorrow. Then I made a silly mistake and I knew it was raining on the back, and I tried to do the corner the same like when it was drying and I crashed again. P9 is not really what I wanted but I’m happy to be in Superpole 2. I know what I did wrong so hopefully I won’t do the same again!”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 1:54.348 (10th)
“Since it was our first time out in the wet this year, we still have to make a few adjustments in terms of chassis to find more grip, especially at the maximum lean angle. The crash during FP1 had nothing to do with this, however, since I was barely leaning at that moment. I didn’t expect it, but luckily it didn’t have any physical repercussions. The weather conditions can change quickly here in Assen, but I’m not worried because in the last races we found a versatile setup in the dry, which usually allowed us to be quick out of the blocks without making radical changes. Also, as long as I was out on the track with all our competitors, I wasn’t far from the top.”
Leon Camier took MV Agusta to 11th just outside the top ten after a great FP1, and Matthieu Lussiana was the fastest BMW rider in 14th.
Josh Brookes was 17th quickest as the Milwaukee BMW squad try to adapt their S 1000 RR for the wet conditions.
Josh Brookes – Milwaukee BMW – P17
“My first impressions of the bike today were good despite the wet weather. For the first few laps in FP1 I was able to improve lap after lap, but it seemed to plateau and I just couldn’t get the lap times down even after a number of changes.
“Second Practice was immediately better and I was quicker in the first few laps, but again I had issues where I couldn’t go any faster, and I had a few big slides.
“We’ve got a good idea of changes to make for tomorrow and the guys have identified some areas to work on, so I will go out tomorrow in FP3 and try my best to improve the lap times.”
Josh Hook was 19th quickest on the Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R.
WorldSBK 2016 – Assen – Friday Combined Times
1 Alex Lowes Yamaha GBR 01’52.701
2 Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 01’53.288
3 Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 01’53.846
4 Xavi Fores Ducati ESP 01’53.856
5 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 01’54.070
6 Jonathan Rea Kawasaki GBR 01’54.107
7 Davide Giugliano Ducati ITA 01’54.267
8 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia ITA 01’54.277
9 Michael van der Mark Honda NLD 01’54.280
10 Chaz Davies Ducati GBR 01’54.348
11 Leon Camier MV Agusta GBR 01’54.564
12 Alex De Angelis Aprilia SM 01’55.392
13 Matteo Baiocco Kawasaki ITA 01’56.199
14 Mattieu Lussiana BMW FRA 01’57.264
15 Lucas Mahias Kawasaki FRA 01’57.264
16 Román Ramos Kawasaki ESP 01’57.726
17 Joshua Brookes BMW AUS 01’57.768
18 Jordi Torres BMW ESP 01’57.798
19 Josh Hook Kawasaki AUS 01’58.014
20 Pawel Szkopek Yamaha POL 01’58.888
21 Markus Reiterberger BMW DEU 01’59.239
Jacobsen tops Supersport
American Honda rider PJ Jacobsen took the top spot on Friday at the TT Circuit Assen, as the first day of #DutchWorldSBK was characterised by rain and difficult conditions. Reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu topped the morning session ahead of returning one event rider Anthony West, as Jules Cluzel suffered a highside on his MV Agusta.
The afternoon saw conditions unimproved and unlikely to improve, with rain still falling and the track proving difficult to judge. That, at least, ensured the track was busy as riders gathered data for what could prove a wet WorldSSP race on Sunday. Day 1 at Assen was a day characterized by incidents and differing times as the riders sought to find the limit of cohesion, and it was 2015 Championship runner-up PJ Jacobsen who took his Honda to the top.
Kenan Sofuoglu and Anthony West were the closest challengers to the American, with two of WorldSSP’s key title rivals suffering in the conditions. Championship leader Randy Krummenacher ended Day 1 in 16th after a difficult time in the wet and a late, slow crash as he lost the rear but it was Jules Cluzel, after a crash in the morning, who proved the title contender to suffer most with the weather as he again unfortunately lost his MV Agusta during FP2, escaping unharmed. With Friday times deciding entry into Tissot-Superpole 2, both the Swiss rider and the Frenchman lost the chance to improve their lap times will have to go through Superpole 1.
The session was ended early by a Red Flag with only 38 seconds left on the clock, and the WorldSSP grid will be hoping for brighter skies tomorrow. The top 10 who go through to Tissot-Superpole 2 could make for a fascinating Supersport showdown, as Championship contenders find themselves further back then they are used to, and wet weather specialists take to the limelight.
Mercado and Rinaldi topped Superstock 1000 practice on their Aruba Ducati Panigale R machines.
Bryan Staring was 16th quickest on the Agro Kawasaki.