The following is from Infront Sports…Jakub Smrz was the fastest rider on his Pata B&G Racing Ducati, setting a new circuit best of 1’36.041 this afternoon at a sun-kissed Assen circuit. The privateer Ducati 1098 rider made the best of the slightly changed Assen layout, adapting to it even more effectively than Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) who had tested on the new track layout last week.Rea was second quickest, despite suffering a late technical issue. The hour long first qualifying session at Assen was halted for a few minutes to clean up an oil spill, leaving only one last flying lap for the riders to improve their early qualifying pace.The official BMW Motorrad Motorsport S1000RR of Troy Corser was third quickest at the end of day one, proving that the BMW team has made a repeatable jump in its real world abilities, following the team’s best ever fourth place finish at Valencia last time out.Corser was 0.4 from provisional pole man Smrz, on this 4.542km track, which features a faster Ruskenhoek chicane section than last year.Championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) rounded out the early top four at the 4.542km circuit, proving his prowess once again at another different layout and character of circuit.Cal Crutchlow (Sterilgarda Yamaha) crashed more than once in the first session but still went into the top five, making it five different types of machine in the top handful of spots again.Sixth was the early result for privateer rider Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) outqualified his team-mate Max Biaggi today, going seventh to Biaggi’s 16th.Chris Vermeulen’s comeback ride put him 20th on the opening day for the official Kawasaki Racing Team, but his team-mate Tom Sykes was top ZX-10R rider, 12th from the 22 riders.
Jakub Smrz: “I have a very good feeling with this track and every time I come back it is very satisfying to ride here. I like the new section but I do not have the gearing correct yet for that part, so there is more to come. I am ready for the rest of the weekend and I hope I will be battling for the top positions, especially at this track.”
Jonathan Rea: “We did a nice race run this morning and also went through a few tyres to find the best choices for the race, and I think we will try the best combination of front and rear tomorrow. I am really enjoying riding and in a rhythm now. I do not have to ride on the edge to achieve a lap time. We have more grip on the rear after our test here and we still managed to keep a good front end feeling.”
Troy Corser: “The team has done a great job and the traction control is working very well. The bike feels very connected. Both throttle and engine braking systems have given me a good feeling and our engine is pushing strongly. From first to fifth gear the acceleration is really hard. Overall, the bike is a good package now. Unfortunately, someone crashed in the last chicane when I was on my flying lap at the end of qualifying, and I lost another chance to go faster.”The following is from Suzuki…There were mixed fortunes for Team Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli on day one of the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship at Assen today. Leon kept up his impressive start to the season by posting the fourth fastest time of the day, but Sylvain struggled in both sessions and only ended 17th quickest. Sylvain at least ended in good company though, as Max Biaggi (Aprilia) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) are just in front of him in 16th and 14th places respectively. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) once again showed his liking for Assen by taking provisional pole position, with Jonathan Rea (Honda) second and Troy Corser (BMW) third. Leon in fourth and Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) means that the top five places are filled by five different manufacturers.Leon – 4th, 1:36.618
I’m quite happy to be fourth at this stage because today we were just going through the usual motions and trying out a few things. We tried some different brake options, but didn’t really try any soft rubber, so to end fourth is pretty good, I think. Tomorrow, we’ll try altering the balance of the bike and see if we can make more progress.
The new section of the track is going to improve the lap times for sure. It’s still quite technical and high-speed, but that’s the kind of corner I like. The track felt a bit dusty today, but I’m sure it will get better as the weekend goes on. I feel pretty confident about our prospects and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the races on Sunday.Sylvain – 17th, 1:37.684
I’m not sure where I was today and could not get a comfortable feeling at all. All day, I struggled and could not find any confidence in the front end of the bike and I felt like I was losing the front everywhere. On our last run of the day we made a radical change to the chassis and we will carry on in that direction tomorrow. It should be better because it can’t be worse!
I know that the bike is a really good package and it’s up to me to get my head round what’s going on and work with my mechanics to find the improvement we need so much. I feel confident that tomorrow will be a lot better than today and I will end up at the right end of the grid.The following is from Ducati…Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) concluded first qualifying at the Assen TT Circuit in ninth and fourteenth position respectively.
In the early afternoon, the riders kicked off the weekend with the first free practice session and concentrated on refining the set-up of their 1198 machines. Michel made constant improvement throughout the sixty minutes to conclude the session in eighth position ; Noriyuki, who had more difficulty, finished sixteenth.Later on, in the first of the weekend’s two qualifying sessions, both riders improved on their times with respect to the previous session and, more or less mid-way through, both Michel and Noriyuki recorded their fastest lap times. Noriyuki is still having some trouble in the second split, losing an average of sixth tenths; this is the part of the track that has been modified since last year’s race with the removal of a chicane.Unfortunately in the last minutes of qualifying, when all the riders were pushing to the limit, a fall for Rea caused a red flag. The track was reopened with almost four minutes left on the clock but Noriyuki decided not to exit, believing that the oil on the track would not permit him to improve further. Michel, with the same idea, did make an exit but only to practice his start. The Ducati Xerox riders thus concluded the session in ninth (Michel) and fourteenth (Noriyuki) position.Michel Fabrizio 1m37.1
“We’ve improved throughout the day but there’s still more work to do tomorrow. I expected better results but tomorrow we’ll more further changes to improve the overall set-up of my bike and I hope this will allow me to drop the times. Rea is going strong, and he’s not the only one; it will be challenging this weekend.”Noriyuki Haga 1m37.4
“I’m still trying to understand how best to tackle the new corner, I don’t especially like that point of the track and I’m losing precious tenths in the second split. We have however improved somewhat during the day and I know we can perform better tomorrow, I just need more time on the track but I’m feeling confident.”The following is from Yamaha…Yamaha Sterilgarda riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland spent the first day of the Assen race weekend working hard on setting up their bikes for tomorrow’s Superpole heats. Crutchlow got quickly down to fast consistent laps, spending the majority of the first qualifying session in second position. Two crashes resulting from losing the front end disrupted his session although he was unhurt and came away from the heat having demonstrated a consistent fast race pace.Team mate James Toseland spent the session working with his team on two very different bike set ups, exploring both front and rear end feel. They found positive steps in both areas so will work to combine and produce a race package ahead of tomorrow’s Superpole session.Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (5th, 1’36.752)
“It’s been a good day speed-wise, I felt quite comfortable keeping the pace I had. We had two stupid crashes, both when I lost the front end. I was using my usual tyre for the first one, I hit a bump and crashed, on the second one I used the new harder front tyre but didn’t have any feeling in it, I came into the last chicane maybe 6km slower than usual and just crashed for some unknown reason. Still, as I said I’m happy with the pace so looking forward to tomorrow and seeing if we can improve and achieve something good in the Superpole session.”James Toseland, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (10th, 1’37.166)
“We’ve been trying a few things with the geometry to see if we can improve the front feel and the rear feel. Over the last three rounds we’ve either got the one or the other so we’re trying to find a better balance using head angles and offsets. On one bike I had a setting very similar to what we used in Valencia, and the other bike had something completely different, I’ve been jumping between the two, and towards the end of the session I think we were getting there. My best lap time of the session was on the harder rear tyre which is generally not the quick tyre which is encouraging. I’m pleased with what we’ve done today, we’ve got through a lot and we’ve got some good ideas for tomorrow. There’s a lot more time in me and the bike to come.”Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager
“For our first day today we saw some good things, for sure tonight the technicians and the riders will continue to work to find ways to improve on the current set up even more. I’m expecting to be in a different position tomorrow afternoon. Cal has really good times through three sectors of the track, he’s losing something in the last sector, we know this and so we’re studying to understand why so we can fix that. When we do I think he will be really strong. I’m expecting James to take another step forward tomorrow, today he was focussed on comparing two very different bike setups, we found good things in both so we’ll work tonight to bring those together.”