2013 Assen World Superbike Friday Roundup: Rain Returns To Racing

Assen was wet and it got wetter. With rain came crashes and with the single bike rule, very few riders wanted to risk damaging their bike, or worse, especially considering the remainder of the weekend is predicted to be dry.

Unfortunately, worse is exactly what happened to PATA Honda's Leon Haslam as he crashed out at the end of the morning's free practice session, breaking his leg below the knee and ending his weekend. Leon Camier crashed his FIXI Crescent Suzuki, but luckily he didn't damage himself any further and he was cleared to race, even though his knee was stiffening up after a few laps. Camier was able to finish tenth fastest, but the dry weather will take more physical effort to log a quick lap.

Tom Sykes ended the day on top again, as he has a tendency to do, rain or shine. His Kawasaki team mate Loris Baz, fresh from a Bol D'Or victory, was surprisingly slower back in 13th place, considering he demonstrated his prowess in the wet several times last year.

The Aprilia pairing of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty filled the remaining two places on the provisional front row, even though neither of them was putting in as many fast laps as Sykes. Davide Giugliano on the privateer Althea Aprilia was also competent and finished behind BMW's Marco Melandri but ahead of early pace-setter Ayrton Badovini. Alstare Ducati's Badovini was quickest early on and consistently faster than his team mate Carlos Checa. As the track has traditionally suited Ducatis, this will be a real test of the quality of the Panigale.

Double-race winner at Aragon, Chaz Davies, missed a chunk of qualifying time as it was spent in the garage, recovering his bike from an early crash.

World Supersport qualifying was equally as unpredictable, with Andrea Antonelli and Christian Iddon both surprising the field with consistently quick wet times. Iddon seemed to get the MV Augusta, a 675cc triple like the Triumph Daytona, to perform surprisingly well in the wet. Behind the equally surprising Mathew Scholtz are the world champion Kenan Sofuoglu and local hero Michael Van Der Mark, who have the most to gain from good weather. Fabien Foret, the title leader, didn't record any laps today while Sam Lowes, a rider who always qualifies well, only put two complete laps on the board.

Tomorrow, if the rain stays away, it will be a different story in both classes, but the climate looks like it will have more of an effect in the Supersport class than it will on the big bikes.

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Once again why 1 bike rules, engine rules (GP), and fuel rules are bad for the fans. Less time on the track even in the dry. We have to pull in if it rains, keep the laps light if it's dry to save the engines, and no burnouts or wheelies, or a reduction in them on celebrations.

Wake me up when the fans become as important as cost savings and technology.