Saturday, April 24

CZECH DUCATI FASTEST AT ASSEN

Czech Pata B&G Racing Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz was the fastest man around the Assen circuit in Holland in the first qualifying session for round four of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship this weekend.

Of the fastest 15 riders in the first qualifying session, seven (7) were Ducati 1198R mounted. And once again it was the privateer teams setting the pace, with Smrz fastest while the Althea Ducatis of Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne were 6th and 8th fastest, ahead of the first Xerox-backed factory bike of Michel Fabrizio.

Next of ther booming V-twins was the DFX Corse machine of Lorenzo Lanzi (11th) while last year's winner Noriyuki Haga was 14th quickest, just ahead of another Ducati, that of Luca Scassa (Supersonic Racing Team).

There has been a slight change to the Assen 4.542km track, which features a faster Ruskenhoek chicane section than last year. This means comparisons with previous years' lap times and race records are difficult.

2010 WSB The Netherlands
Qualifying 1
- Assen 23/04/2010

Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Lap Time
1 Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 1'36.041
2 Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 1'36.339
3 Troy Corser BMW AUS 1'36.489
4 Leon Haslam Suzuki GBR 1'36.618
5 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1'36.752
6 Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 1'36.805
7 Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 1'37.064
8 Shane Byrne Ducati GBR 1'37.081
9 Michel Fabrizio Ducati ITA 1'37.165
10 James Toseland Yamaha GBR 1'37.166
11 Lorenzo Lanzi Ducati ITA 1'37.344
12 Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 1'37.434
13 Max Neukirchner Honda GER 1'37.453
14 Noriyuki Haga Ducati JPN 1'37.462
15 Luca Scassa Ducati ITA 1'37.506

Weather: Sunny

Lap Record: Leon Haslam (2009, Honda), 1m 38.370s (race 1)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1m 37.626s (Ben Spies, Pole, 2009).
Last Years Top 3: Race 1: Ben Spies, 1; Noriyuki Haga, 2; Leon Haslam, 3. Race 2: Haga, 1; Haslam, 2; Smrz, 3.


The other news was the pace of Jonathan Rea on the HANNspree Ten Kata Honda CBR1000 and that of Australian Troy Corser on the factory BMW S1000RR, second and third fastest respectively.

Unlike the Ducati-Yamaha monopoly of MotoGP, the depth of the Superbike World Championship was once again illustrated by the fact that five different manufacturers were represented by the fastest five bikes.

Championship leader Haslam was looking good as his closest rival, Max Biaggi, was languishing in 16th fastest. But it is early days!

Here's the Suzuki take on things:

LEON IN TOUCH, SYLVAIN NOT
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.

And for the Yamaha point of view:

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

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

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."