Fast Fridays: Smrz Starts It Off At Assen

Henny Ray Abrams | April 15, 2011

Followers of the World Superbike Championship are used to Jakub Smrz going fast on Friday and the Czech rider made good on that today, leading both the free practice session this morning and this afternoon’s first qualifying session at the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland.Smrz and his Efffenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R led the morning session with a best of 1:37.159, then he went out and bettered that this afternoon with a 1:36.058 – over a second quicker – to lead the one-hour session at the legendary Dutch circuit, the site of round three of the World Endurance Championship.Second in the qualifying session when to Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, the Italian jumping up the timesheets with a quick lap of 1:36.287 on his final lap. Then came countryman Marco Melandri on the factory Yamaha, the former MotoGP star posting a 1:36.494.Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio had his best outing of the young season, the Italian riding the GSX-R1000 to the fourth best time of the day.Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was next, the Brit leading the two factory BMW’s of Troy Corser and Leon Haslam with those two ending up sixth and seventh, respectively.Melandri’s Yamaha teammate Eugene Laverty ended the session in eighth, one spot better than the man who won both races here last year – Jonathan Rea. Rea was ninth on the Castrol Honda at the team’s home track, but was just outside the 1:36-range and 1.005 seconds behind Smrz.Noriyuki Haga ended up 10th, .008 of a second better than World Championship leader Carlos Checa. Althea Ducati’s Checa was second in the morning session, but improved his lap time only marginally, pushing him down to 11th in the afternoon session.Chris Vermeulen ended up 19th out of the 21 qualifiers today as the Aussie again attempts to return to action with his still-healing knee.World Superbike racing continued to show its brand diversity with six different makes of motorcycles in the top six – Ducati, Aprilia, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW. The seventh manufacturer, Honda, was in the top 10 in ninth.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:36.058

2.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:36.287

3.                  Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1:36.494

4.                  Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1:36.550

5.                  Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:36.747

6.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:36.876

7.                  Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:36.989

8.                  Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1:37.024

9.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:37.063

10.                  Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) 1:37.114


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.