Day one at the Motul Dutch Round for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is complete for the WorldSBK class, at a freezing cold and windy Assen. In a stunningly close session that saw the top five riders covered by just 0.031s, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), taking the BMW to finish the opening day at the TT Circuit Assen on top!
2013 World Superbike champion Tom Sykes was once again a prominent front-running rider in FP2, as he concluded Friday on top! The all-new BMW S1000RR continued to show positive signs with progress being made in the aerodynamics at MotorLand Aragon, making for an exciting prospect to see the German manufacturer back at the sharp end. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was one of the revelations on Friday, lapping multiple consistent times and eventually placing fourth overall. Reiterberger looking to improve on a best Superpole result of sixth, achieved in Sepang 2016.
Having led the session in FP1, Kawasaki’s were on form at the famed Dutch venue. It was the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who consolidated a positive opening day with a second place as Friday concluded. The Ulsterman setting multiple fast times and eventually toppling his teammate. Rea will be hoping to continue his search for his first race win of the season. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), returned to the TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands with a fine third place. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ will be hoping to return to the podium for the first time since Australia.
It wasn’t an all-conquering opening day for ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team, who struggled throughout the session. Alvaro Bautista languished for the majority of FP2, in the pits with his crew hard at work, implementing the settings needed to challenge at the front. The championship leader finished the session in sixth, with a flurry of fast laps towards the end of FP2. Chaz Davies had a small crash at Turn 5, soon remounting but returning to the pits. The Welshman, who is looking to continue his search for a third podium of the season, finished the session in ninth position, ahead of his teammate for most of the session.
In what was one of the closest sessions in recent WorldSBK memory, home-hero Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) completed the session in fifth position, just 0.031s behind session leader Tom Sykes. The Dutchman was looking to put on a good show in front of a loyal home crowd and goes into Saturday full of confidence. Teammate Alex Lowes suffered another crash in FP2 and finished his first day at Assen in tenth.
Two Independent team riders once again squeezed into the top ten, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) in seventh, just 0.140s from the leading time by Sykes. One position behind the Turkish rider, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was one of the biggest improvers and finished in eighth, as second Yamaha rider too.
In what was a phenomenally tight session, the leading 12 riders were covered by just 0.821s, with four Independent riders inside that gap. Tom Sykes is also the first rider to top a Free Practice session that has not been Bautista or Rea, making Assen look like it could host a thrilling, action-packed battle with various manufacturers and riders.
A frantic opening day for the World Supersport championship, positions swapped and changed as times tumbled hard and fast throughout the 45-minute session. With clouds gathering but holding off with precipitation, it was Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) who topped the opening day!
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) continued his good form on from MotorLand Aragon and was ahead of the field after the first day of practice at Assen. The Swiss rider is looking to become the first Swiss rider in the history of WorldSSP to clinch back-to-back victories. Behind him on the time sheets was teammate Federico Caricasulo, who was less than a tenth behind. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) started his weekend positively, finishing third at the end of day one!
Fourth place belonged to Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), pushing hard all the way and finished 0.373s behind the championship leader. He was ahead of Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA), as the Frenchman was still unable to really take the fight to Randy Krummenacher, similar to MotorLand Aragon. Completing the top six, Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was a brief leader before being pushed back; nonetheless a positive session for the Japanese star.
Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) was in seventh position, with a good start to his Motul Dutch Round weekend showing him further up the order than he was at MotorLand Aragon. It was a very good session for Hannes Soomer (MOM WILSport Racedays), finishing top Honda. The Estonian will hope to remain competitive throughout the weekend. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was ninth overall, struggling to improve his time from FP1. Completing the top ten, Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) who was flying the Dutch flag high.
WorldSSP300 returned to action for their 2019 campaign, with a second race in as many weekends. From the hustle and bustle of MotorLand Aragon, the WorldSSP300 category are at a cold and windy TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands, one of the staples on the WorldSBK paddock calendar. After the first day of action, it was Aragon race winner Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) on top, but there is a strong Dutch contingency chasing him down.
In Group B, it was the Dutch flag that was flying high, as Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) and Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) led the way at home. The TT Circuit Assen showcased both riders running at the front of the group, placing in third and sixth overall. Borja Sanchez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) was third on in Group B and eighth overall, having led the opening session of the weekend in the morning.
Group A saw MotorLand Aragon race winner Manuel Gonzalez secure top spot overall with a blistering lap time in a chilly afternoon session. The Spanish rider, who took his first race win of his career at Aragon, was the first rider in to the 1´50s and set a time of a 1’50.934. In second position overall was Robert Schotman (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), just 0.138s behind Gonzalez. Third in the group but fourth overall, Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) looked back in the mix of things at the TT Circuit Assen.
WorldSSP300 action returns on Saturday for FP3, Superpole and the much-anticipated Last Chance Race.
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