Latest World Superbike Results
The weather decided not to turn nasty, allowing us to enjoy another flowing race at Assen. In the warm-up lap, Marco Melandri's BMW had gearbox issues that meant he had to get off and push. He didn't start the race. Chaz Davies, to add to BMW's woes, destroyed his bike in the morning's warm-up and it was being rebuilt until the last possible minute, starting the warm-up lap from the pits. Leon Camier stated that he may only manage a few laps as his injured knee was causing him issues.
Assen, motorcycle racing's cathedral, has been the scene of some of the greatest entertainment in World Superbike racing, hailing back to Carl Fogarty's incredible run of victories, through the Bayliss years up to the Jonathan Rea wins. Assen has always been considered a rider's track, much like Donington and Philip Island. It represents everything that's good about World Superbikes with flowing corners making it a skill and bravery over power track. While it suits certain machinery, a good rider can, so the legends go, win on anything.
Carrying on from this morning, qualifying would come down to whoever was able to dial in a setting with the fewest laps.
The track was dry, if cold, promising to favour the Kawasakis, Aprilias and Jonathan Rea.
Tom Sykes heads to Superpole knowing he's the favourite for pole position after posting the fastest time in the second free practice session. His team mate Loris Baz also seems to have got a setting that will suit him well and Chaz Davies has finally found a way to get the BMW on the front row. Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa continue their good form, both peeling off 1'37 laps in sequence which seems to be the sort of race pace we should expect if the conditions are the same tomorrow.
Sam Lowes ended Free Practice 2 at the top, with his arch-rival Kenan Sofuoglu in third. The surprise was class rookie Jack Kenendy in second place, only losing the top spot at the last minute. Kennedy joined World Supersport this year, fresh from a second place in British Supersport.
A dry start to the day meant qualifying would have a more familiar look to it, in spite of the cold, and both Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes were predictably fast early on, ahead of their French team mates Sylvain Guintoli and Loris Baz. Jonathan Rea, at his team's home track, along with Carlos Checa, also put in respectable times by the half way point.
Assen was wet and it got wetter. With rain came crashes and with the single bike rule, very few riders wanted to risk damaging their bike, or worse, especially considering the remainder of the weekend is predicted to be dry.
As the track started to dry out, lap times unsurprisingly came down. Ayrton Badovini showed the Ducati Panigale wouldn't be outclassed in mixed conditions early on, but it was once again Tom Sykes on his Kawasaki that took the provisional pole position, ahead of the Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty.
As the weather refused to improve, the pace was low while the attrition was high. Kenan Sofuoglu made a brief sojourn to the top of the table but was knocked off at the top first by Christian Iddon and finally by Andrea Antonelli. Antonelli's 2'04.455 lap was 14 seconds slower than the fastest times from this morning's free practice.
As the weather is set to improve tomorrow, it's hard to say if these times will factor in qualifying, but the wet weather experience could well help if the weather doesn't improve enough.
As the track was wetter than this morning, the pace was even slower than it was in World Supersport. Tom Sykes was over twenty seconds off qualifying pace as conditions led the events. Several riders were brought down by the conditions, including Leon Camier, who was only medically cleared to race yesterday, and Leon Haslam who went to hospital with an injured leg. Most riders nipped out, saw how wet it was and popped back in the pits, recording fewer than a dozen laps.
A wet morning in Holland put the dampers on fast laps. Christian Iddon on the MV Augusta dominated the morning session, although towards the end, the top spot was taken off him briefly by Andrea Antonelli and Sam Lowes. Iddon ended the session with a 1'50.434, a full ten seconds slower than last year's FP1 time.
The World Superbike racing calendar started its European leg after a seven week absence from the calendar. The weekend would demonstrate that even factory-supported bikes are complicated enough to fail when pushed to their limits. What we as members of the public never see when riding our similar motorcycles to work is how fickle and fragile they are at the very limit of performance.
World Superbike race two was reduced to a nineteen lap affair after Jules Cluzel gesticulated on the grid after the warm up lap, bringing out the yellow flags. The start was delayed and Loris Baz also ended up in the pit lane. With the restart, Cluzel was sent to the pits while Baz started from the last spot on the grid.
Eighteen laps at 22 degrees centigrade. Last year, Kenan Sofuoglu crossed the line first but was penalised a few places for headbutting Fabien Foret down the back straight, handing the win to Sam Lowes. All three of those characters will be starting from the front row.