Assen Or Bust

Press Release | April 21, 2009

The following is from Ducati…After three World Superbike rounds, and with an advantage of forty points in both the rider’s and constructor’s classifications, the Ducati Xerox Team will travel to the TT Circuit of Assen this week in a very positive frame of mind.The two Ducati factory riders, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, currently lie in first and fourth place respectively in the riders classification, thanks to the collection of podium places that they have accumulated in the opening rounds. 2009 has seen Noriyuki’s best ever start to a season, powering his Ducati 1198 to three wins and three second place finishes in the first six races, to take 135 of the 150 available points. The latest Valencia race weekend brought the Ducati Xerox Team a swathe of points with Nitro-Nori doing the double and Michel backing up this success with a worthy second and third place finish.Having completed two successful days of testing at Monza since leaving Valencia, both Noriyuki and Michel are feeling confident as they enter into Round 4 of the fourteen-round world series. A track that has rewarded the Ducati Xerox Team, Noriyuki and Michel with trophies in the past, the TT Circuit of Assen, redesigned in 2002, always provides the fans with spectacular racing, whatever the weather!Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 135 points)

Although Nori won a race at Assen back in 2000, since then he has tended to either step up to the podium, finishing in second or third place on a host of occasions, or not finish the races at all, with four DNFs recorded in the six most recent races.”Assen – it’s a tricky circuit. I preferred the old layout of the track, like most people, but don’t dislike the new version. My history there has been rocky, up and down to say the least! I’m looking forward to riding this track on the 1198, it should be interesting. We know that the Ducati performs there as Troy won both races last year, we had a good fight in Race 2 I recall, and so it should be another good weekend; Checa and Neukirchner went well there last year and they, as well as Spies and I, are likely to be running at the front, so we should see more great racing.”Michel Fabrizio (4th in championship, 60 points)

Michel has been on the Dutch podium in 2005 and 2006 but had less success in the last two years. Last year a persistent pain in his forearm prevented him from performing as he had hoped, something he plans to set to rights now that he is once again in good health.

“I like the track and I have had some relatively successful weekends there. Unfortunately last year was not one of those times and I had a disastrous weekend, problems with my arm led to two DNFs, a race day to forget! I’m feeling really fit and healthy now so I’m ready to fight with the frontrunners for the podium spots at Assen this season; I need to consolidate, or better, improve on, my current position in the standings as Nori and Spies are already a long way ahead of the rest of the pack.”The following is from BMW…The fourth round of this year’s Superbike World Championship takes place at Assen circuit in the Netherlands, and will be a new racetrack for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team. Although Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus are very familiar with the 4.555 kilometre circuit, it will be their first time there with the new BMW S 1000 RR.So, not only do they have to try and find a good set-up for the races, but they also have to try and qualify well. In the three races so far, both Troy and Ruben have suffered in the new Superpole qualifying system and have had to start the races from way down the grid. It would be interesting to see what would happen if either or both could qualify on the first two rows of the grid for Sunday’s races.Troy

Assen used to be a real ‘riders’ track, but it is not the same anymore. It’s not bad track, but it just doesn’t flow like it used to and that could be a bit of a problem for us. At the present stage of the bike’s development, it seems that the bike is working better at tracks that flow, instead of stop/start circuits. Obviously, we are working very hard on getting the bike good at all types of tracks, but it just takes time and laps. We’re getting there for sure and, if we can get a good Superpole and start from near the front end of the grid, I’m sure we

can improve our results.Ruben

The old Assen was good and I don’t think there was a single rider who did not like it. The new Assen is not so bad, but it has lost some of its character. Of course, it is the same for all of us, but our job is going to be that much harder because we are arriving at Assen with no data or telemetry to work with on this bike at this track. My plan is to get down to it as soon as I can and try and avoid my ‘black Fridays’. I need to be further up the grid and not have so much work to do during the races just trying to catch the leaders. The S 1000 RR is fantastic, but I don’t think we have seen its potential yet. That day is going to come and I don’t think it is so far away.Berti Hauser (Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport)

Well, yes of course, this upcoming SBK weekend in Assen is another new one and unknown territory for us, but each step we´re taking since the beginning of the 2009 season is unknown territory. Especially all the basics we learned throughout the first three rounds brought a lot of new knowledge and information as well as some surprises – such is the reality of competing in a hard-fought championship. The pure ranking itself does not show the real potential of our bike. Looking at the second qualifying in Valencia, where the first 20 positions were within one second, it shows what is really going on there. Troy´s was just 0.14 sec and Ruben 0.7 sec behind the fastest lap time of this particular session. Actually, that´s where we are standing. No doubt, we have to keep pushing hard to improve the whole system in order to achieve better positions. This includes getting more familar with the new superpole system, to get more used to the specific characters of the Pirelli tires and to improve also the whole system of the bike step by step. For sure, based on the results we’ve achieved already, the motivation is huge and I’m more than happy and proud to have these riders in our team. The team spirit together with these guys provides a major boost to get better and better throughout the remainder of the season. We´ll be going the extra mile at the track and our work shop to make BMW´s WSBK participation a success story.The following is from Honda…The fourth rounds of the Word Superbike and Word Supersport Championships take place at Assen on 26 April, with Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) the highest ranked Honda rider in the Superbike table and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) the best placed Honda rider in Supersport.Haslam is currently fifth overall, with a best individual finish of third in the second leg at Phillip Island. His consistent point scoring form has given him a total of 58 points, meaning he is only seven points off a top three placing now.For Sofuoglu, the winner and pole man at the opening WSS round in Australia, a share of the top spot after round three sees him on 54 points, matching Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. Each of those riders has the same collection of race finishes so far; one win, one third and one fourth, and they have also monopolised pole position between them.The only other 2009 WSS race winner is another Honda rider, Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) who secured a famous first victory for himself and his team in Losail, on the 2009 version of the CBR600RR.Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) is just inside the top ten after a patchy start to his first WSB season, with his third place finish in qualifying in Australia leading to a top five ride in the race. By contrast, Rea left the last round at Valencia with a retirement and a 13th place finish.After such a difficult Valencia weekend, Rea has already made a short test on an oval circuit close to the Ten Kate team’s base in the Netherlands, to try out some new parts aimed at improving throttle connection and response.Rea is only one point ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Racing Honda CBR1000RR) and two ahead of his own team-mate Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) after each of those two proven WSB race winners have also battled hard for only occasional reward in all six opening races.Checa has made a consistently good job of qualifying in the new-look Superpole, taking second row starts each time, while some equally illustrious riders have failed to get past even the first of three elimination style Superpole sessions.With changes having been made in the mechanical and electronics packages of all the Ten Kate machines, the Dutch-based squad is looking for a return to top form at its 4.555km long home circuit.The appearance of former MotoGP rider John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) in the WSB paddock at Valencia was a novelty for a time but he made himself at home straight away, finishing 11th and 12th.Tommy Hill (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) has scored points in four of six races so far, while Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Honda

CBR1000RR) still has to get off the mark in this exceptionally competitive season.Three Honda WSS riders, Laverty, Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) have a share of third place in the middleweight class, all on 43 points.Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR600RR) is fifth overall, only a single point ahead of his team-mate Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea CBR600RR). Lagrive has been in frequent action since his last WSS race, running to second in the Le Mans 24 Hour race last weekend, after testing at Monza with his team-mate shortly before the classic French race.Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) has had little luck to mix in with his otherwise confident start to the 2009 series, while Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) is making progress now after taking time to get used to his new machine and team.WSB Rider QuotesLeon Haslam said: “I am really looking forward to the next race in Assen. I have raced on the old circuit before, and I’m keen to try out the new parts of the track, especially the first section. There is always a really good English fan base in Assen as well. We have some parts for the bike to test this weekend, which will hopefully further improve the bike.”Jonathan Rea said: “After what’s been a sluggish start to the season, we needed to look at making some changes to the bike to improve the feeling. The guys have found some pretty positive developments back at base and I was able to try them out last week. The feeling with the throttle is much better now and that was the main area of concern. Assen is a great place, for a number of reasons, and I got my first podium with the Supersport team there last year. The circuit should suit the bike better than Valencia anyway, and we’re all in a really positive frame of mind.”Ryuichi Kiyonari said: “After the last race I went back to Japan for a week for the wedding of Mamoru Moriwaki’s daughter, so it was good to spend a short time relaxing with friends. I must admit it was a little bit frustrating to ride with the problems we had at Valencia. But the team has been working really hard to prepare for Assen and I am confident that they have found some improvements for me to try. Last year was not such a good result, but we know what the problem was there – basically – rider too aggressive on the throttle! I like the circuit at Assen, though, so I will try very hard this weekend to get some good results for the team.”Carlos Checa said: “I wasn’t able to test the improvements to the bike but we have had some detailed discussions and I’m happy with the developments that the team has made. There are one or two other additions to the bike for this weekend and I’m confident that what we have planned should work well at Assen. Like a lot of other riders, I prefer the old layout of the circuit, but it’s still a nice track and I was on the podium twice last year, so it’s a great place to have the team’s home round. I was at the workshop for an open day last weekend and, if the weather is as good as it was then, it should be a great event.”John Hopkins said: “The first round of the championship was a challenging experience. I had not been on a bike for a few months and then came pretty much straight into the series and had to do two races in a row. I consider these first races to be part of the learning experience, but I have proved that I can do the lap times and am eager to go for a good result in Assen this weekend.”Tommy Hill said: “This will be the first time for me at Assen, so again it’s another circuit I need to learn fast. It’s a shame we did not get to test in Monza, as it would of been nice to get some more setup time. As we’re now at the fourth round of the world championship, I have my fingers crossed for better results, and hope to gain more points than the previous rounds.”

By Press Release