Ben Spies is continuing to show that you don’t have to be a seasoned veteran of European racetracks in order to go fast – even at the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland, the “Cathedral” of road racing and a track that’s been long touted as being difficult to master. Not so for Spies, the Texan riding his Yamaha Motor Italia R1 to the fastest time today to head the field going into tomorrow’s final qualifying and Superpole for the Dutch round of the World Superbike Championship.Spies waited until there was just under 10 minutes to go to throw down his quick lap – a 1:38.747 – and that lap would hold up through the end of the session. Spies had also led the morning session with his best of 1:39.607 and would be the only rider to crack into the 1:38s in the afternoon session – ending up just .392 of a second off Troy Bayliss’ best set during Superpole for last year’s race.Second best today went to Guandalini Racing Ducati’s Jakub Smrz, the Czech rider holding the top spot until Spies took it away from him. Smrz lapped at 1:39.055. Then came Alstare Suzuki’s Yukio Kagayama, the Japanese rider turning in a 1:39.128 as the top 12 World Superbike men were separated by just .874 of a second.Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa saved his best lap for the very end, the Spaniard clicking off the fourth quickest lap on his final lap of the session to move ahead of Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio. Then came Regis Laconi, Max Neukirchner, Jonathan Rea, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Leon Haslam.The first of the BMW’s was ridden to 11th by Troy Corser, the Australian one spot better than World Championship points leader Noriyuki Haga, the Ducati Xerox rider lapping at 1:39.621 – .874 behind Spies.Friday Qualifying1. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:38.7472. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:39.0553. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 1:39.1284. Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:39.1415. Michael Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:39.2386. Regis Laconi (Ducati) 1:39.2467. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1:39.2658. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:39.3549. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:39.50610. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:39.585
Spies On Top In Assen World Supers
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.