World SBK ReportTeam Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli had an opening day of mixed fortunes during qualifying for the Dutch World Superbike fourth round at Assen today.
Haslam kept up his impressive start to the season by posting the fourth fastest time but Guintoli struggled in both sessions and finished the day in 17th position; although ended in good company; as Max Biaggi (Aprilia) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) are just in front of him in 16th and 14th places respectively. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) showed his liking for Assen by taking provisional pole position with Jonathan Rea (Honda) second and Troy Corser (BMW) third. With Leon in fourth and Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) means that the top five places are filled by five different manufacturers. Leon Haslam (4th, 1:36.618) says: "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 (17th, 1:37.684) says:"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 around 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." Friday World SBK Qualifying: 1 Smrz (CZE-Ducati) 1:36.041, 2 Rea (GBR) 1:36.339, 3 Corser (AUS-BMW) 1:36.489, 4 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) 1:36.618, 5 Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha) 1:36.752, 6 Checa (ESP-Ducati) 1:36.805. 17 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 1:37.684.