Press releases from the organizers and WorldSBK teams after the first day of practice at Assen:
Rapid Rea ends Friday sessions on top
World Champion outpaces rivals on day one at Assen, with Davies and Sykes also in top three
Friday’s action at the Acerbis Dutch Round saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) set a marker for his rivals with a 1’35.383 lap to top the FP2 timesheet as he rode consistently fast around the TT Circuit Assen. He was joined by Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in the top three on the combined Friday timesheet, with Davies trailing the World Champion by +0.112s and Sykes being +0.149s behind his teammate.
Rea has an excellent record at the Dutch venue having won nine WorldSBK races there and having taken double victories in the last two visits to the Netherlands. His Friday pace suggests he will be as strong as ever on Saturday and Sunday after his excellent start to 2017 so far.
Behind the top three in FP2 were Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who both made the top five. Savadori improved significantly from FP1 having had technical problems which hampered him in the morning outing.
Behind sixth placed Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was Savadori’s teammate Eugene Laverty in seventh, as the Milwaukee Aprilia team appeared to take a step forward on Friday afternoon.
The top ten was completed by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati). Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just missed out on an automatic SP2 spot in 11th, with Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) in 12th having experience a technical issue with his Ducati.
Van der Mark could not improve his time in FP2 having made a good start to his home round in fourth in FP1. Meanwhile, it was not a great day for Lowes as the Englishman first crashed in FP1 and then had a high-speed crash on the Yamaha YZF R1 in FP2. He ended up ninth overall, having been outside the top ten in the morning session.
Bradl also crashed in FP1 and concluded the day down in 13th, with his Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team behind him in 14th, meaning both will ride in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday morning.
There was also an FP2 crash for Leandro Mercado (IODARacing), leaving the Argentine rider down in 18th on the timesheet.
Earlier in the day Sykes set the FP1 pace with a 1’35.676 lap, placing him ahead of his teammate Rea and Welshman Davies in the top three on the morning timesheet.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track at the Acerbis Dutch Round for FP3 at 8.45am local time on Saturday, with SP1 at 10.30am, SP2 at 10.55am and Race 1 at 1pm.
Rea Fastest As KRT Riders Start Well At Assen
The first day on track at Assen for the FIM Superbike World Championship riders ended with Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes fastest and third fastest respectively, posting lap times that were already under the existing lap record.
Despite the cold track surface the pace was hot from the start, with Sykes and Rea 1-2 in the morning session, before Rea took the lead this afternoon. Sykes finished third, just 0.149 seconds behind.
With Friday the most important day in terms of machine set-up under the Saturday/Sunday race format in WorldSBK, Rea worked his way through possible set-up and tyre options on his Ninja ZX-10RR before selecting the ideal one for the prevailing conditions. He then posted a 1’35.383 lap to lead the charge of the top ten riders into Superpole 2 on Saturday.
For Sykes Friday was proof that his physical condition is improving, despite still suffering some adverse effects from an existing stomach infection. He was instantly happy with the performance and feel of his Ninja ZX-10RR today, boosting his confidence as he approaches both Superpole 2 and then the opening race of the weekend, on Saturday 29th April.
With air temperatures in single figures at times today there is hope of improved weather conditions as the weekend progresses. This will require both KRT riders to keep working on set-up right through to the beginning of the two 21-lap races, which will start at 13.00 CET each day.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really satisfied with today as we managed to set up the bike a little bit in the morning and confirm some suspension items we have been testing recently, in Motorland Aragon and Portimao. Once we confirmed those, in the afternoon we decided to make a long run with some of the new Pirelli tyre options that they brought for both the front and the rear. I rolled out of that simulation after half distance and came into the pits. We tried another set of tyres and went back to the morning settings, which had different final gear ratios and were a little bit softer in the suspension. I felt a little bit more comfortable then. I made a pretty much a full race simulation at a pace I feel quite satisfied with. After gaining that knowledge I know exactly the critical areas to improve to be strong at the end of the races. As far as Fridays go, today’s has been a positive one.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I feel a bit better than Motorland Aragon but compared to my full fitness there is still a long way to go. I am enjoying riding Assen, that’s for sure, and the bike is working really well. It was nice, considering my condition to have been under the race lap record pace in the first free practice. That enabled me to relax. I feel quite happy with our set-up, even this early, and I feel ready to race on Saturday - which is the main thing. We had a good test in Motorland Aragon and things have carried forward to here so I feel prepared for the races. Today I did quite a lot of laps and I feel that, for the race, there should be no problem - so I am happy about that.”
Second-best time for Chaz Davies in the opening day at Assen, Marco Melandri is 10th
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team resumed action at Assen for the fourth round of the 2017 WorldSBK Championship. In typical, cold weather conditions (about 10 degrees in the air and 15 on the tarmac), Chaz Davies posted the second-best time of the day while Marco Melandri closed in tenth place in the combined rankings.
Both riders took advantage of the two free-practice sessions to work on the setup of the Panigale R and evaluate the several tyre compounds, front and rear, brought for the occasion. The Welshman, third in the morning, took about half a second off in between sessions to finish with a personal best of 1:35.495, only 0.112 seconds behind provisional leader Rea.
Melandri, tenth in the morning, significantly reduced the gap from the top in FP2, temporarily climbing back to the margins of the top five, but closed in tenth position (+0.887) without mounting, unlike most of his rivals, a fresh rear tyre towards the end. Both riders thus gained direct access to Superpole 2.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 08:45 (CET) for the third and final free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1 (scheduled for 13:00).
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:35.495 (2nd)
“I’m quite happy with our performance for today. I feel like we’re still off the mark in some areas, but not far, especially when it comes to lap times. We did a medium-size run, the lap times came more easily towards the end and the tyres looked quite good, so that’s positive. We just need to tidy up a few things, in particular we need to get more stability as the bike behaves a bit wildly here and there, especially in the faster parts of the track, in order to get it to turn better from straight braking until the apex. The forecast says it should be dry for the rest of the weekend, so... fingers crossed.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:36.720 (10th)
“We struggled a bit in FP1, while in FP2 things went better but we still risked to be pushed out of the top ten without using a new tyre in the final minutes. Anyway, we got progressively closer to the top, and our pace is decisively better than this morning, so I’m quite confident about our potential. We know where we need to improve, especially in the first sector, but we still need to fill some gaps. In particular, we need to focus on grip because, despite having improved the feeling on the front, we need to improve consistency with the rear.”
Pata Yamaha Wraps up First Day of Action in Assen
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team were back on track today for the first free practice sessions of the Dutch WorldSBK weekend at the TT circuit Assen. Local hero Michael van der Mark made a solid start, taking eighth overall in the combined practice times whilst teammate Alex Lowes suffered bad luck with two unfortunate crashes. Despite the falls he was unhurt and was able to secure ninth overall at the end of the day.
Van der Mark started his first ever run on the Assen track as an official Yamaha rider on his YZF-R1 with a special orange highlighted livery on both the bike and his Alpinestars leathers, celebrating Dutch pride the day after the Kings birthday. He took a longer run in FP1, getting a feel for the circuit he knows well, on a machine he is still discovering. The young Dutchman was able to evaluate both the soft and harder option tyres available for the race weekend, with the harder currently working better for the race distance. He will work tomorrow morning with the team to make another step and be ready to represent Yamaha in front of the Dutch crowd in the first WorldSBK race. Van der Mark completed day one in eight overall, 0.800s from first position.
Teammate Lowes had a more challenging start to his Assen weekend, taking high-speed tumbles in both the morning and afternoon practice sessions. Despite falling at two of the quickest points of the circuit, the young Brit was able to bounce back with just bruises and regroup to be ready for tomorrow. Crashes aside Lowes was also on good form, finding a solid starting set up to build on for the race weekend. He completed the day in ninth overall, 0.843s from the top.
Michael van der Mark - 8th, 1'36.183
This morning we started off quite well, my first time here with the Yamaha. I made quite a long run to get used to the bike on the track, then we made some changes that made it even better. At the end I did my fastest lap time with a soft tyre, but we know that the soft tyre is probably not the tyre for the race tomorrow so we knew that in the afternoon we had to work on the harder tyre. We found some positive points with it, but in the end I want to see if we can make it work with the softer one also. I think for today Im satisfied and Im sure that tomorrow we can improve my rhythm and speed on the R1.
Alex Lowes - 9th, 1'36.226
It was a tough day today, I made a mistake in the first session and clipped the inside kerb in turn 12, unfortunately one of the quickest corners. In the second session I had another really fast crash and so missed a lot of track time. Its been a bit disappointing and Im a little bit beaten up but Im ok. The bike actually feels good round here, so Im looking forward to tomorrow to get back to work on track. We need to take some time to analyse what happened today and why; whether it was just my errors, and what we can do to avoid these in future. . Honestly, as bad as it looks and despite the scrapes and bruises Im feeling quite good and looking forward to the race tomorrow. Im reasonably happy with the set up, maybe we will make some small changes but the R1 is nice to ride here . I need to say a big thanks to my team for the work already done today, and the work they are going to have to do to make up for two crashes tonight.
It's been a cold and challenging day for the team here at Assen for different reasons on different sides of the garage. The basic character of the R1 suits the flowing nature of the circuit but to be ready for Michaels home race we still need to find the best balance in the bike. With two consistent sessions and a lot of laps under his belt the crew is confident of making a good step forward tomorrow. As always Michael, particularly at Assen, and flying the orange colours of his home country, is sure to be pushing as hard as anyone and we are looking forward to a very combative performance. Alex has had an extremely tough day at the office; the fact that he is relatively unscathed is a big relief. Only doing four laps in FP2 is clearly a disadvantage for the race preparations, but lets see where we are tomorrow. I am confident that over race distance we can turn todays issues around and get involved in the fight for a good result.
Althea BMW makes good inroads in practice at Assen
Assen (The Netherlands), Friday 28 April 2017
The Althea BMW Racing team are on track at the Assen TT circuit for round four of the 2017 Superbike World Championship. The team took part in the first SBK timed practice sessions with riders Jordi Torres and Raffaele De Rosa, and in STK1000 free practice with Marco Faccani.
SBK: In the first timed practice, which took place in the morning in cool conditions, Torres set to work on his BMW together with his technicians, closing in ninth place with a time of 1’36.865. De Rosa, who used the session to start to get to grips with his ‘new’ BMW S 1000 R, was not focusing on lap times of course, closing 18th with a time of 1’37.601.
In the afternoon’s session, the two Althea BMW men continued with the work and while De Rosa lowered his time by half a second, Torres improved by a full second, closing fourth thanks to a best time of 1’35.812 set in the final seconds. De Rosa finished in 16th place today (1’37.148).
STK1000: Faccani made a good start to the Dutch weekend. Fast from the very first laps, the italian recorded a best of 1’41.031 in the morning to finish first practice in second place. In the afternoon, the times dropped dramatically and, placing consistently in the top five, Marco ended the session in fourth place with a fastest time of 1’38.474.
"We finished day one strongly. I’m pleased because we know we need to give it 100% right from the start, across all aspects of our work, and that’s what I’m trying to do here. The morning didn’t go badly, I had good pace, but I needed a good time in the afternoon to be sure – we were able to achieve that, and I’m pleased because I set it on my own and felt good on the bike. Tomorrow we’ll continue in this direction, giving it our all, I’m feeling confident…”
Raffaele De Rosa
“I’m pleased to be back on the bike in Superbike but we knew it wouldn’t be easy after I’d spent so many months away from the track. We need to work step by step and for now I’m feeling confident. We’ve seen that Jordi is already quick, so the bike has the potential, we just need to stay focused and give it our all.”
“Today’s free practices went well and I’m pleased with the work that I’ve got done with the technicians. We also worked with the used tyres, in preparation for the race, and my feeling is quite good, though we still have some small things to improve on. I think that both me and the bike have the potential to lower our times further. We’ll see what we can do in tomorrow’s qualifying..”
Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty delivered strong Friday performances on the RSV4 RF to reach Superpole 2 at Assen
After a four-week break following Round 3 of the 2017 season at Motorland Aragon, the Milwaukee Aprilia team are back in action at the legendary TT Circuit Assen for Round 4.
The team have continued to work hard to hone and improve the new generation Aprilia RSV4 RF, and made the most of their track time in Friday’s Free Practice sessions at Assen.
Lorenzo and Eugene both looked in fine form, reaching Superpole 2 together for the first time this year. Returning from injuries sustained in Round 2 at Thailand, Lorenzo delivered a strong performance to post the fifth fastest overall time on Friday, with Eugene an encouraging seventh place and close to his teammate’s pace.
With both riders straight into the shootout for pole position on Saturday the team are hopeful of a strong result in Race 1, which will surely be a closely-fought contest.
The action continues at #DutchWorldSBK with FP3 at 08:45 (07:45 GMT) ahead of Superpole at 10:30 (09:30 GMT).
Keep up with Milwaukee Aprilia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they contest the 2017 WorldSBK Championship.
Lorenzo Savadori #32
FP1: P13, 1'36.997 FP2: P5, 1'35.938
“I’m quite happy with practice today. Haven’t ridden the bike for over 6 weeks, so it’s good for us to get directly into Superpole 2.
We lost time this morning with a small problem on the bike and we need to improve our race pace for sure, but the guys have some ideas on where we can find some speed.
I think we will be in a good position for Superpole and the race tomorrow. The weather is still uncertain of course, but we will push for everything again.”
Eugene Laverty #50
FP1: P8, 1'36.830 FP2: P7, 1'36.150
“It’s been by far the best Friday practice session of the year. We were 8th in the morning and 7th in the afternoon, and we were comfortably doing those lap times.
Before we’ve had to really push to make the top 10 for Superpole but today was much smoother. The bike feels much better here, and the work we did in the post-Aragon test has paid off here.
Our pace is looking good at the moment, and I think we’ll be able to challenge the guys we’re aiming at. A top 5 finish in Race 1 would be ideal, but we’ll see what happens in Superpole 2 first.”
Red Bull World Superbike Team looking for improvement after opening day at Assen
TT Circuit Assen, Netherlands
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has completed the first day of action at the TT Assen Circuit, where the fourth round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship is currently underway. Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden were thirteenth and fourteenth, respectively, in the combined times of today’s two free practice sessions. Therefore, both riders must try and make their way through Superpole 1 in order to join the qualifying battle for the first four rows of the grid.
After crashing unhurt in the final stages of free practice 1, Bradl was able to improve his performance on board the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 as he lapped more than eight tenths of a second faster in the afternoon session. The 27-year-old German rider was only 0.189secs away from a top-10 finish, which would have guaranteed him access to Superpole 2.
The day started off well for Hayden, who was sixth at the end of the FP1 and 0.8secs away from the fastest time of that session. Unlike his team mate, however, the 35-year-old American was unable to improve his times in the afternoon – due to a technical issue during Free Practice 2 which limited his track-time – meaning that the 1’36.512secs lap set in the morning turned out to be his quickest of the day.
World Superbike action will resume tomorrow at 8:45am local time (GMT +2) for the 25-minute Free Practice 3 session, followed by Superpole 1 (10:30) and Race 1 (13:00).
Stefan Bradl 6
13th / 1'36.459
This morning we went out with the new spec engine but we had a few issues that required some extra work. We were able to sort them out for the afternoon session, but we now have to work on the feeling at the rear end of the bike, which is not quite there at the moment. Clearly that’s not the way we wanted to start the weekend, but hopefully we’ll be able to make some more progress tomorrow.
Nicky Hayden 69
14th / 1'36.512
This morning I was able to make some decent lap times and, considering the fact that we were not using the soft tyres, things were looking promising for the afternoon. Unfortunately, we lost the whole session due to some issues with the clutch and engine braking. It’s a shame, really, because FP2 is the only session when you can work with similar conditions to the race. The team is now investigating, so the goal is to come up with a good plan for tomorrow.
We were happy to see Nicky in the top 6 this morning. He rode well and was not too far away from the front runners. We were hoping to improve again this afternoon, but unfortunately we experienced some issues – which we are now investigating – and he had to sit out the whole session. Stefan had quite a difficult time this morning in trying to find the feeling with the bike, and this afternoon he was able to make up some ground, but he’s still not fully comfortable. We are going to work overnight and we will use all the track-time available tomorrow in order to come up with some changes and be prepared for qualifying and the race.
WorldSSP: Sofuoglu shows strength to lead on day one
World Champion tops Friday in cool conditions narrowly ahead of his rivals
After his difficult start to 2017 a determined Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) stated his intentions on Friday at Assen by topping the free practice timesheets on the first day of the Acerbis Dutch Round. The Turkish rider’s 1’38.950 in FP2 put him at the head of the combined timesheet, in front of PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
Sofuoglu missed the first two rounds of the season due to injury and then finished out of the points on his return at Aragon last time out, so he will be pleased to be on the right track at Assen. Just behind Sofuoglu (+0.172s) was American rider Jacobsen whose best Friday time came in FP1, as he was one of the only riders not to improve in the afternoon session.
Following third placed Caricasulo was standings leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and in fifth place was Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) – who won the race at Assen last year.
Meanwhile, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) were all in the top ten, despite a crash at turn 15 for Canducci in FP2. Those aforementioned top ten riders all go straight into SP2 on Saturday.
Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) crashed at turn 7, whilst Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) had laps cancelled in both Friday sessions for exceeding the track limits and crashed at turn 8 in FP1.
Earlier in the day in FP1 Jacobsen the way with a 1'39.122 best effort, with Sofuoglu just behind him (+0.013s) in second and Mahias in third (+0.743s). The session ended in a red flag due to oil on track after a crash involving Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Stefan Hill (Profile Racing) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing).
On Saturday at the Acerbis Dutch Round the WorldSSP riders have FP3 at 9.20am local time, with SP1 at 2pm and SP2 at 2.25pm.
Cluzel confident for Superpole 2
Posted on 28th April 2017
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Jules Cluzel ended the first day of Free Practice at Assen in 7th position and the Frenchman is confident there is more to come for qualifying in tomorrow’s Superpole 2. Jules said: “So it was a difficult day. This morning we had some rain and we had stress because we were expecting more for the afternoon. The target this morning was to stay in the top ten and we did that. This afternoon was more relaxed and we worked better and found some solutions. P7 is not the best we can do so I am confident for tomorrow.”
Hikari Okubo’s opening day at Assen was frustrated when he was brought down by oil dumped on the racing line from another rider’s blown engine at the end of the morning’s Free Practice 1 session, resulting in him spraining his ankle. After treatment the Japanese rider was able to go out in Free Practice 2 and despite his injury, improved his lap time for 19th position.
Robin Mulhauser finished the day in 18th position and faces the difficult challenge to be one of the top two in Superpole 1 for entry to Superpole 2 tomorrow.
Hiromichi Kunikawa’s debut at TT Circuit Assen saw him 32nd on the time sheet and he remains positive ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager, Simon Buckmaster said: “I am happy with the improvements we made to be in Superpole 2 and I am confident Jules is in a good position for qualifying. Come the race we will have a good race pace and be able to challenge for the podium. Robin will be a bit disappointed with 18th but he has the opportunity to improve in SP1. Fortunately it was the left ankle that Hikari sprained and he will have more therapy in the Clinica Mobile so that he can work for a better position tomorrow. It was a brave ride by Hikari this afternoon. Hiromichi is still learning the circuit and he has lots of work to do to improve.”
Caricasulo and Mahias Make Promising Start at the Cathedral
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Federico Caricasulo and Lucas Mahias made a promising start to this weekends Dutch round of the FIM World Supersport Championship in Assen, taking third and fourth respectively in the combined times to wrap up day one of practice.
Italian Caricasulo struggled in the opening session with a collarbone injury carried over from the last round in Aragón. He was only able to complete a couple of laps in the morning, but a healing session in Clinica Mobile and an inspired change of body position and riding style saw him back on form in the afternoon and confidently up to third in the timesheets with a 139.349s lap, just 0.399 from top.
Aragón race winner Mahias was equally challenged in the morning practice, struggling to find consistency in the ever-changing Assen weather conditions. Despite completing the day still hunting for the perfect set up for the race, he had no trouble dropping a 139.377s lap to take fourth and ensure a place in Superpole 2 tomorrow.
Federico Caricasulo, 3rd 1'39.349
Today was really difficult because I have a lot of pain in my left shoulder after Aragon. In the first session it was impossible to do more than a couple of laps. I worked in Clinica Mobile a lot and changed my position on the bike to use the rest of the body and it was much easier in the second session. Im confident for tomorrow; I think we can be in the first three positions. The R6 is great here, the bike is very good and the front end is working well under braking to enter the corners well.
Lucas Mahias, 4th 1'39.377
Today was a difficult day, especially this morning because the weather was changing a lot. I pushed a lot for one lap to get in to the top ten for qualification in the afternoon, and was able to finish fourth, but it was just one fast lap. My rhythm for the race is not great yet, but we are working with the team on it. For qualification we are ok, but for the race we need to work more on the pace for consistency to ensure we can finish in a good position.
Today was a good day, both riders are straight in to SP2. From Federicos side it was a fantastic performance considering his injuries from his crash in Aragón. If he had pain he simply rode over it. For Luca, he doesn't feel 100% comfortable as he did in Aragón. We are trying to understand how to make the bike better. The crew are working hard to find solutions and we are confident we will make a step for tomorrow, and of course for the race. We need to make some little changes here and there and he will be ready to fight.