Jakub Smrz wasted no time laying down the quickest time during qualifying; maintaining his momentum from Donington.
First Qualifying for the 2011 Assen TT at the Circuit van Drenthe in Holland is in the books and Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati pilot Jakub Smrz has his 1098R at the top of time sheets. The Czech Republic born rider was able to better the efforts of defending SBK champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia Racing) and series newcomer Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike) and Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare). All three Italian riders were within a half-second of Smrz. Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki and Troy Corser on the BMW made sure that six different manufacturers were represented in the top six positions. That raises the question: Is parity starting to rear its head in World Superbike?
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) – 2nd: “I’m feeling very positive because we have already identified the path we need to take, choosing between the two bikes which had different characteristics. The final time shows that there is still work to be done mainly on the details, and it is fundamental that we improve them in view of qualifications. Assen is a particular track because it doesn’t have any reference points. You have to create them meter by meter. Now I need to collect my thoughts, run through the feelings I had in the various turns and take all of that to my mechanics so that we can set up tomorrow’s sessions.”
Running just 0.229 seconds behind Ducati’s Jakub Smrz was Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, who claimed second in the charts.
Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike) – 3rd: “We had a relatively difficult morning, experiencing a lack of grip and suffering with the handling of the bike. The team and I worked hard all afternoon. The crew did a great job trying resolving the problem and we made significant progress. There’s still some fine tuning to be done and we need to find the most competitive tyre for the race on Sunday . Tomorrow I’m going to concentrate on qualifying, I’m aiming to secure a front row position on the grid and I think we can do it.”
Michel Fabrizio (Alstare Suzuki) 4th: “I am quite happy, because I think we did a very good job today. We didn’t panic after the morning session, when we were 16th, but just went about our job professionally and got our reward as a result. We didn’t even use a soft tire until the end of this afternoon’s qualifying, so I am particularly happy.”
Troy Corser (BMW Racing) – 6th: “The bike is feeling easier to ride and the power delivery is smoother. The recent tests gave us a decent amount of time to try things, without worrying about getting a good set-up for a race. In a race weekend, we make quite a few changes, but often do not have the time to see how these changes affect the bike over a long distance. Valencia allowed us to do that. Now the tires seem to be holding up pretty well. We were on the hardest tires all day – front and rear – and that’s something that we don’t normally do. We didn’t even use any soft tires today – and that makes me happy because I have a feeling that they’ll not last a race distance. If it gets a lot hotter, then we’ll p
Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio saw a dramatic improvement from the morning session to finish fourth in the books behind Yamaha’s Marco Melandri.
robably have to give the soft tires a go. I’m also happy because we’ve pretty much already got a race set-up. Our bike works well here, particularly accelerating onto the long straights. The bike is still physical to ride but, because the power delivery is smoother, it feels less physical. It is responding to changes better now and it’s easier for our technicians to work out what’s going on and then come up with ideas to make progress. So, all in all, things have gone well here today and I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.”
Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike) – 8th: “This morning was important for me to regain confidence on the bike. We had a very tough race weekend in the last round of the championship but I’m satisfied that I managed to put that behind me in today’s free practice session. We made progress this afternoon, improving on the chassis and finding more suitable tyres. I completed a longer run, almost a race run and put in respectable times. Completing the session in eighth is pretty good considering we spent the day working on the setting, so overall I’m relatively satisfied.“
Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) 9th: “We’re satisfied enough with today because we concentrated a lot on track temperature versus tire combination today. With today’s conditions, some options aren’t working as well as others after about 15 laps and that’s where the races will going to won and lost, I think. It was the correct decision to go down that route today and, while we haven’t used so many tires, we’ve got through a lot of work. The tire we used at the end of this afternoon’s session wasn’t going to bring a lap time anyway and we hadn’t finished our race simulation. So I don’t think our position reflects where we actually are today, although there’s still some work to do in the first and middle sectors with the long corners at the back of the circuit. We’ve got some ideas and I was rushing into some corners, which ruined the exit. But we’ve got good data from last year that we can use so it’s not rocket science for us. We’re not out of the ball park and tomorrow I think we can improve our time and our position quite easily, so there’s no drama.”
Troy Corser was the top BMW in the First Qualifying session at Assen.
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First Qualifying Results:
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 (Aprilia) 1’37.106
11. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’37.114
12. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’37.364
13. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1’37.373
14. Ruben Xaus (Honda) 1’37.424
15. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’37.613
World Supersport Qualifying:
1. Florian Marino (Honda) 1’38.945
2. Luca Scassa (Yamaha) 1’39.121
3. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’39.191
4. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’39.291
5. Chaz Davies (Yamaha) 1’39.519
6. Brock Parkes (Kawasaki) 1’39.569
7. Robbin Harms (Honda) 1’39.766
8. Fabien Foret (Honda) 1’40.247
9. Gino Rea (Honda) 1’40.273
10. Massimo Roccoli (Kawasaki) 1’40.344