Friday’s action at the Acerbis Dutch Round saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) set a marker for his rivals with a 1’35.383 lap to top the FP2 timesheet as he rode consistently fast around the TT Circuit Assen. He was joined by Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in the top three on the combined Friday timesheet, with Davies trailing the World Champion by +0.112s and Sykes being +0.149s behind his teammate.
Rea has an excellent record at the Dutch venue having won nine WorldSBK races there and having taken double victories in the last two visits to the Netherlands. His Friday pace suggests he will be as strong as ever on Saturday and Sunday after his excellent start to 2017 so far.
Behind the top three in FP2 were Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who both made the top five. Savadori improved significantly from FP1 having had technical problems which hampered him in the morning outing.
Behind sixth placed Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was Savadori’s teammate Eugene Laverty in seventh, as the Milwaukee Aprilia team appeared to take a step forward on Friday afternoon.
The top ten was completed by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just missed out on an automatic SP2 spot in 11th, with Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) in 12th having experience a technical issue with his Ducati.
Van der Mark could not improve his time in FP2 having made a good start to his home round in fourth in FP1. Meanwhile, it was not a great day for Lowes as the Englishman first crashed in FP1 and then had a high-speed crash on the Yamaha YZF R1 in FP2. He ended up ninth overall, having been outside the top ten in the morning session.
Bradl also crashed in FP1 and concluded the day down in 13th, with his Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team behind him in 14th, meaning both will ride in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday morning.
There was also an FP2 crash for Leandro Mercado (IODARacing), leaving the Argentine rider down in 18th on the timesheet.
Earlier in the day Sykes set the FP1 pace with a 1’35.676 lap, placing him ahead of his teammate Rea and Welshman Davies in the top three on the morning timesheet.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track at the Acerbis Dutch Round for FP3 at 8.45am local time on Saturday, with SP1 at 10.30am, SP2 at 10.55am and Race 1 at 1pm.
After his difficult start to 2017 a determined Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) stated his intentions on Friday at Assen by topping the free practice timesheets on the first day of the Acerbis Dutch Round. The Turkish rider’s 1’38.950 in FP2 put him at the head of the combined timesheet, in front of PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
Sofuoglu missed the first two rounds of the season due to injury and then finished out of the points on his return at Aragon last time out, so he will be pleased to be on the right track at Assen. Just behind Sofuoglu (+0.172s) was American rider Jacobsen whose best Friday time came in FP1, as he was one of the only riders not to improve in the afternoon session.
Following third placed Caricasulo was standings leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and in fifth place was Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) – who won the race at Assen last year.
Meanwhile, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) were all in the top ten, despite a crash at turn 15 for Canducci in FP2. Those aforementioned top ten riders all go straight into SP2 on Saturday.
Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) crashed at turn 7, whilst Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) had laps cancelled in both Friday sessions for exceeding the track limits and crashed at turn 8 in FP1.
Earlier in the day in FP1 Jacobsen the way with a 1’39.122 best effort, with Sofuoglu just behind him (+0.013s) in second and Mahias in third (+0.743s). The session ended in a red flag due to oil on track after a crash involving Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Stefan Hill (Profile Racing) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing).
On Saturday at the Acerbis Dutch Round the WorldSSP riders have FP3 at 9.20am local time, with SP1 at 2pm and SP2 at 2.25pm.
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