News 24 Apr 2010

WSBK: Five manufacturers in top five on day one at Assen

Pata B&G Racing Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz was the fastest rider on the opening day of World Superbike qualifying at Assen.

Smrz was quickest on Friday at Assen WSBK.

Smrz was quickest on Friday at Assen WSBK.

Pata B&G Racing Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz was the fastest rider on the opening day of World Superbike qualifying at Assen in the Netherlands yesterday, the Czech rider setting a new circuit best of 1:36.041 to earn the provisional pole position for the weekend’s fourth round of the 2010 series.

The Ducati 1098 rider made the best of the slightly changed Assen layout, adapting to it even more effectively than Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) who had tested on the new track layout last week. Rea was second quickest, despite suffering a late technical issue.

The hour long first qualifying session at Assen was halted for a few minutes to clean up an oil spill, leaving only one last flying lap for the riders to improve their early qualifying pace.

The official BMW Motorrad Motorsport S 1000 RR of Australia’s dual world champion Troy Corser was third quickest at the end of day one, proving that the BMW team has made a repeatable jump in its real world abilities following the team’s best ever fourth place finish at Valencia last time out.

Corser was 0.4sec from provisional pole man Smrz, on this 4.542km track, which features a faster Ruskenhoek chicane section than last year.

Championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) rounded out the early top four, proving his prowess once again at another different layout and character of circuit.

Rookie and current Supersport World Champion Cal Crutchlow (Sterilgarda Yamaha) crashed more than once in the first session but still went into the top five, making it five different types of machine in the top handful of spots again.

Sixth was the early result for privateer rider Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) outqualified his teammate Max Biaggi today, going seventh to Biaggi’s 16th.

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen’s comeback ride put him 20th on the opening day for the official Kawasaki Racing Team, but his team-mate Tom Sykes was top ZX-10R rider, 12th from the 22 riders.

In World Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and his teammate Michele Pirro were first and second respectively at the new-look Assen circuit, making it a dream start for their Dutch-based team.

Sofuoglu was the clear leader, by 0.317 seconds, making the most of a recent test at Assen. Third quickest man was Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) boosting his and his team’s confidence. Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) was fourth in the early rankings, leading two Triumph riders, David Salom and Matthieu Lagrive.

Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Junior Honda) and championship leader Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) went 1-2 in the opening qualifying session of the Superstock 1000 class.

Michele Magnoni was third on his Squadra Corse Italia Garvie Image Honda, if not quite into the 1:39s like Berger and Badovini. The first Suzuki was the Team06 Suzuki of Davide Giugliano in sixth place, while the first KTM twin-cylinder machine belonged to Pere Tutusaus (Go Eleven). One more qualifying session remains for all.

Florian Marino (Ten Kate Race Junior) made it a great day for his team when he scored provisional pole at Assen ahead of Jeremy Guarnoni’s MRS Racing Yamaha in the Superstock 600s.

Marino’s leading margin was an impressive 0.613 seconds, but his rivals have one more session to peg him back before Saturday evening’s 10-lap race. Martini Corse Yamaha riders Federico D’Annunzio and Bernardino Lombardi slotted into third and fourth respectively. Frederik Karlsen (MTM Racing Yamaha) was fifth.

Click here for detailed results

Jakub Smrz: “I have a very good feeling with this track and every time I come back it is very satisfying to ride here. I like the new section but I do not have the gearing correct yet for that part, so there is more to come. I am ready for the rest of the weekend and I hope I will be battling for the top positions, especially at this track.”

Jonathan Rea: “We did a nice race run this morning and also went through a few tyres to find the best choices for the race, and I think we will try the best combination of front and rear tomorrow. I am really enjoying riding and in a rhythm now. I do not have to ride on the edge to achieve a lap time. We have more grip on the rear after our test here and we still managed to keep a good front end feeling.”

Troy Corser: “The team has done a great job and the traction control is working very well. The bike feels very connected. Both throttle and engine braking systems have given me a good feeling and our engine is pushing strongly. From first to fifth gear the acceleration is really hard. Overall, the bike is a good package now. Unfortunately, someone crashed in the last chicane when I was on my flying lap at the end of qualifying, and I lost another chance to go faster.”

Leon Haslam: “I’m quite happy to be fourth at this stage because today we were just going through the usual motions and trying out a few things. We tried some different brake options, but didn’t really try any soft rubber, so to end fourth is pretty good, I think. Tomorrow, we’ll try altering the balance of the bike and see if we can make more progress. The new section of the track is going to improve the lap times for sure. It’s still quite technical and high-speed, but that’s the kind of corner I like. The track felt a bit dusty today, but I’m sure it will get better as the weekend goes on. I feel pretty confident about our prospects and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the races on Sunday.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I’m not sure where I was today and could not get a comfortable feeling at all. All day, I struggled and could not find any confidence in the front end of the bike and I felt like I was losing the front everywhere. On our last run of the day we made a radical change to the chassis and we will carry on in that direction tomorrow. It should be better because it can’t be worse! I know that the bike is a really good package and it’s up to me to get my head round what’s going on and work with my mechanics to find the improvement we need so much. I feel confident that tomorrow will be a lot better than today and I will end up at the right end of the grid.”

Michel Fabrizio: “We’ve improved throughout the day but there’s still more work to do tomorrow. I expected better results but tomorrow we’ll more further changes to improve the overall set-up of my bike and I hope this will allow me to drop the times. Rea is going strong, and he’s not the only one; it will be challenging this weekend.”

Noriyuki Haga: “I’m still trying to understand how best to tackle the new corner, I don’t especially like that point of the track and I’m losing precious tenths in the second split. We have however improved somewhat during the day and I know we can perform better tomorrow, I just need more time on the track but I’m feeling confident.”

Cal Crutchlow: “It’s been a good day speed-wise, I felt quite comfortable keeping the pace I had. We had two stupid crashes, both when I lost the front end. I was using my usual tyre for the first one, I hit a bump and crashed, on the second one I used the new harder front tyre but didn’t have any feeling in it, I came into the last chicane maybe 6km slower than usual and just crashed for some unknown reason. Still, as I said I’m happy with the pace so looking forward to tomorrow and seeing if we can improve and achieve something good in the Superpole session.”

James Toseland: “We’ve been trying a few things with the geometry to see if we can improve the front feel and the rear feel. Over the last three rounds we’ve either got the one or the other so we’re trying to find a better balance using head angles and offsets. On one bike I had a setting very similar to what we used in Valencia, and the other bike had something completely different, I’ve been jumping between the two, and towards the end of the session I think we were getting there. My best lap time of the session was on the harder rear tyre which is generally not the quick tyre which is encouraging. I’m pleased with what we’ve done today, we’ve got through a lot and we’ve got some good ideas for tomorrow. There’s a lot more time in me and the bike to come.”