Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two fourth round World Superbike championship races from pole position after setting the fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole shoot-out at Assen in Holland.
It marks the Northern Irishman’s maiden world championship pole start and was made in emphatic style as Rea was the only rider to dip under the 1’35s barrier at the recently revised 4.452km Assen circuit.
Rea will be joined on the WSBK front row for tomorrow’s two 22-lap races by Jakub Smrz, Troy Corser and fellow Briton, Leon Haslam, while his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Max Neukirchner, has work to do from the fourth row of the grid after qualifying 16th fastest.
Jonathan Rea says:" I’m so excited! It’s my first ever world championship pole position and Ronald [ten Kate] said to me before: "You’re not sweating here – you nee d to push harder and do one fast lap!" But it didn’t even feel fast; I just clipped all my apexes and with the grip of the qualifier I was able to open the throttle earlier and the lap time even surprised me. But my team are really pulling out all the stops at the moment. We had a test here last week and I’ve been staying here the last couple of weeks in my motor-home behind the workshop. But it’s down to business tomorrow and I think my CBR is good enough on race pace. There’ll be three or four out there who can go at the front so I’ll just put in 22 big ones and see where we end up after that."
Max Neukirchner says: "I’m very disappointed, of course, because we felt we were really making some progress here. I got held up behind Haga in Superpole 2 but didn’t have enough to get by and, of course, you only get one real good lap out of a qualifier so that was it . We didn’t really find anything more after qualifying this morning and I wasn’t able to go any faster this afternoon. The bike is much better than it was in Valencia but the fourth row is still not good enough. I’ll do my best to get some good starts in the two races tomorrow and try to make up some places in the early laps."
Leon Haslam says: "I am on the front row so I’m happy. Anything else would’ve been a bit of a disappointment the way the season is going, and although Pole would’ve been good, front row is fine. I’m pretty happy with the bike on race tyres, but I didn’t go any quicker on qualifying tyres, so that’s good for the races tomorrow. I’m not sure why we didn’t go any faster on qualifying tyres and it’s an area that we’ll have to look at next time out.
"My last lap today would’ve been faster but I made a little mistake in the last sector and lost time. I’m not sure if it would’ve been fast enough to beat Jonathan but it might’ve been good enough to get ahead of Jakub and Troy. It’s going to be a long, hard day tomorrow, but I don’t usually suffer physically in races so I’m looking forward to fighting for podiums again and keeping my series lead."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "Yesterday was pretty bad and although today was better, I should’ve improved more and gone faster. At least today I felt more confident in the front end and was able to push harder, but I didn’t get much feel from my qualifying tyres this afternoon and so couldn’t go any quicker. We need to do some more work on the rear end and tomorrow I need to make two really good starts and be in the leading group. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be a very long day indeed."
Troy Corser says: "We have come quite a long way. The team has done a lot of work on the bike, and we have been testing a lot. Finally the work has started to pay off. The bike is quite fast and feels stable, and I feel quite comfortable riding it. We were aiming for the front row, and it would be great to finish the races like today’s Superpole. I am looking forward to tomorrow. "
Ruben Xaus says: "The team did an incredible job with the bike. We have made big steps forward in terms of traction and rideability. My problem is that I still do not feel the bike properly. I simply need more mileage and time on the bike. However, I am always pushing to the limit. I had a minor, controlled crash on my final flying lap in Superpole 2. I was mid corner and mid throttle. I think a little more would have been possible today. Congratulations to Troy and the team as they did a great job."
Michel Fabrizio says: "Second row for tomorrow is not too bad after quite a difficult weekend. I thought that times would drop with the qualifiers but in the end I made my best laps on the race tyre. I’m happy with that, because the laps finally came together, and it gives me confidence for tomorrow’s races. It’s a breath of air after the last two difficult rounds. Tomorrow will of course be tough once again and I guess they’ll be some close racing but I’ll do my best to stick with the leaders."
Noriyuki Haga says: "I’m disappointed with today’s Superpole result. I was really pushing but the competition has the advantage here and I wasn’t able to put together consistently fast laps. I don’t quite understand what the problem is but I hope to make strong starts in tomorrow’s races and will do everything possible to take away as many points as I can."
Cal Crutchlow says: "I struggled with my qualifier tyre in the second Superpole heat, and couldn’t make it through to the third. Both James and I are still working on some stability issues which could be seen on track as well. We need to work hard in tomorrow morning’s session to see what we can change in the set up to make another step forward. We’re all working really hard, and on the positive side the electronics issues we’ve had in the past are now working very well for us."
James Toseland says: "Frustrated is the word! It was a real surprise for the bike to do that in a place where I’ve never had that before, it kicked up and wheelied at over 180mph in fifth gear, it was a bit touch and go there but luckily I was able to save it. The lap was good up to that point, I only had two corners left to go and would have been through to the top eight and the third session. We’ve had so much work to do to get where we are, the team has done a great job trying to get the bike to work here. Tenth on the grid is not ideal and we’re not sure about tyre life, depending on temperature tomorrow we might not be able to use the softer race tyre, everyone is waiting to see how warm it will be. I’m not too worried about race pace, it’s all about what happens in those first few laps. The new fast section has effectively deleted a passing place so I’ll have to get off the line well and see how we go."
Jakub Smrz says: "We were always in front this weekend, the team has done an amazing job finding the right setup for the bike. I’m sure everybody will fight hard, I think I’ll be battling with Corser, Rea and Haslam, who all have the same pace as me, but some other riders might get involved. I would’ve won the Superpole if it wasn’t for a small mistake I made in a corner but it’s still a very good result. I’ll give it my all tomorrow and hopefully will celebrate as I did today".
Lorenzo Baroni say: "I’m really happy that I could continue racing and be fast again after that awful crash at over 200 kmph. I hope to further improve in race as well and score a good result, especially for the team who did a great job repairing the machine".
WSBK Lap Record: 2’04.685 (Chris Vermeulen, 01/01/2005)
World SBK Fastest Lap Ever: 1’34.944 (Jonathan Rea, 25/04/2010)
Last Years World Superbike Winner: Noriyuki Haga
2010 WSB The Netherlands – Assen 24/04/2010 – Superpole
Pos. Rider Manufacturer Country Total Time
1. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 1’34.944
2. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 1’35.062
3. Troy Corser BMW AUS 1’35.306
4. Leon Haslam Suzuki GBR 1’35.330
5. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 1’35.633
6. Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 1’35.892
7. Shane Byrne Ducati GBR 1’35.909
8. Michel Fabrizio Ducati ITA 1’36.405
9. Cal Crutchlow GBR 1’36.027
10. James Toseland GBR 1’36.061
11. Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 1’36.069
12. Ruben Xaus BMW ESP 1’36.094
13. Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki FRA 1’36.327
14. Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 1’36.348
15. Noriyuki Haga Ducati JPN 1’36.574