Assen World SBK Qualifying Practice #1

Jakub Smrz SBK

Jakub Smrz was the fastest World Superbike rider on his Pata B&G Racing Ducati, setting a new circuit best of 1’36.041 this afternoon at a sun-kissed Assen circuit. The privateer 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 World Superbike 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 S1000RR of Troy Corser was third quickest at the end of day one, proving that the BMW WSBK 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 0.4 from provisional pole man Smrz, on this 4.542km track, which features a faster motorcycle racing ‘Ruskenhoek’ chicane section than last year.

Championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) rounded out the early top four at the 4.542km circuit, proving his prowess once again at another different layout and character of circuit.

Cal Crutchlow (Sterilgarda Yamaha) crashed more than once in the first SBK 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 team-mate Max Biaggi today, going seventh to Biaggi’s 16th.

Chris Vermeulen’s World SBK 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.

Top 3: Assen Qualifying Practice 1 – Rider Comments

1. Jakub Smrz says: "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."

2. Jonathan Rea says: "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."

3. Troy Corser says:"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."

Other World Superbike Quotes

Jonathan Rea says: "It’s been a positive Friday, really – maybe one of the best I’ve had in Superbikes. We’ve already found a good race pace and I was able to go four tenths quicker this afternoon than I did in the morning, when I found it quite easy to go fast. We already did a race run this morning, doing 24 laps on the rear, and then I was happy with the front that we used this afternoon. It’ll be even better when I use the right tyre combination. It’s still only Friday, of course, and because we tested last week, the others have probably got a bit more to find than I have. But we’re not playing catch up this weekend and we mustn’t go to sleep tomorrow. I’m really enjoying riding the bike and feel like I’m in the zone."

Max Neukirchner says: "I’m actually quite happy that we made a good step forward today. I went faster than at the test here last week and was able to find a second from this morning to this afternoon. The biggest thing we’ve been able to find is more stability with the bike and this has improved its turning. All this helps me to adapt my riding style as well, so it’s all helping. I hope to improve in all these areas some more tomorrow and keep making up some positions like I was able to today."

Troy Corser says: "The team really did a good job. The traction control is working very effectively and the bike feels very connected. Both throttle and engine braking feel good to me. The engine is pushing strongly – from first to fifth gear the acceleration is really good. Overall, the bike is now a good package. The modifications at "Ruskenhoek" make the section really fast. It might be somewhere else where you can actually pass. Unfortunately, another rider crashed in the last chicane when I was on my flying lap at the end of Qualifying. I saw yellow flags and oil flags and just took it easy through the corners. There was a lot better time possible. However, we are quite consistent on race tyres. I am quite confident for the weekend."

Ruben Xaus says: "The bike is incredible in the fast corner, and the stability is just amazing. However, I am struggling in the slow corners. I am really losing time in these stop-and-go sections. We made some good steps forward towards the end of Qualifying. Still, something is missing, and we have to find the last tenths of a second. When the session was re-started after Jonathan Rea’s technical problem I had traffic and was not able to improve my lap time."

Davide Tardozzi (BMW Team) says: "We are very happy with Troy’s results – he finished second in Free Practice and third in Qualifying. This is the best Friday result so far in the team’s history. On Ruben’s side we struggled a bit with the set-up. However, we made some good progress towards the end of Qualifying, and we are confident for tomorrow." 

Michel Fabrizio says: "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 says: "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 says: "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 says: "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.

Jakub Smrz says: "We did a great job and the result is a consequence of our hard work. I always look forward to returning to this track, I feel great on it and I really have a lot of fun when I race here. The change that has been made this year will require us to make some modications as well because we seem to have some issues but we have all the time we need to do that tomorrow. I need to be in top form for the race in order to battle for the top slots and so I have to replicate today’s performance".

Lorenzo Baroni
says: "I lost control of the bike in the fastest corner (over 200 km/h) and I literally flew over and crashed. Fortunately I didn’t get hurt, but the bike was smashed and I couldn’t continue. I hope to redeem myself tomorrow, I was doing pretty well and I’m confident I can get a good result".  

World SBK Times: Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098 R 1’36.041; 2. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1’36.339; 3. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S 1000 RR 1’36.489; 4. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 1’36.618; 5. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’36.752; 6. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098 R 1’36.805; 7. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F 1’37.064; 8. S.Byrne (GBR) Ducati 1098 R 1’37.081; 9. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098 R 1’37.165; 10. Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’37.166; 11. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’37.344; 12. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10 R 1’37.434; 13. Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1’37.453; 14. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’37.462; 15. Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1098 R 1’37.506; 16. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV 1000 4F 1’37.580

Supersport First Qualifying

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

Times: 1. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR600RR 1’38.250; 2. Pirro M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’38.567; 3. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’38.780; 4. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR600RR 1’39.002; 5. Salom D. (ESP) Triumph Daytona 675 1’39.143; 6. Lagrive M. (FRA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’39.405; 7. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.638; 8. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.785

Superstock 1000 First Qualifying

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. 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.

Times: 1.Marino F. (FRA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’42.755; 2. Guarnoni j. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’43.368; 3. D’annunzio f. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’43.538; 4.Lombardi B. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’43.542; 5. Karlsen f.(NOR) Yamaha YZF R6 1’44.111; 6. Major n. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’44.311; 7. Fanelli d. (ITA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’44.364; 8. Carrillo C. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’44.465; 9. Cecchini R.(ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’44.903; 10. Krajci t. (SVK) Yamaha YZF R6 1’44.976