Carlos Checa nabbed his third pole of the season ahead of Jakub Smrz and Eugene Laverty at the Assen circuit.
Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa continued his excellent form in Superpole, picking up his third pole position of the season in Round 3 of the 2011 WSB Championship at Assen. The Spaniard’s lap of 1’35.292 was 0.268 seconds faster than Liberty Racing’s Jakub Smrz as the Czech rider placed second in the books after leading Friday’s qualifying times. Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty secured the third-quickest lap just 0.02 seconds afterward, with Aprilia’s Noriyuki Haga rounding out the front row for Sunday’s races.
“We were struggling a little in Superpole 1 because we used a race tire,” said Checa. “We expected to be inside but it was crazy with a few riders in a few tenths of a second and you can be in or out just like that. Then we worked well with the qualifying tire, in session 2 and especially the last one where I did a really good lap without any mistakes. It’s a great satisfaction for me but honestly it was quite hard!”
Jakub Smrz was just 0.268 seconds behind Checa and will start from the first row.
“I wanted the pole today but I had some trouble with the tires,” Smrz said. “The bike was good, but Carlos was very fast today. It’s good to be on the front two, the team and everyone did good work. I learnt that I was only 12th after Superpole 1 because I didn’t see the lap times, so I was lucky in the first one. Then I started pushing in the second session, but here it’s always very close and it’s never easy.”
“It was an eventful session, we used the qualifiers up during the Superpole so in the end I had to use a softer race tire, I surprised myself with the lap time when I saw it on the dash,” Laverty said. “That was great! I knew it was going to be enough for the front row, but it was tough. I could do times like that for a couple of laps but we’ve got some work to do for the races to make the bike more stable.”
After winning both races at the Dutch circuit last year, Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea just missed a start on the front row, qualifying 0.846 seconds off the pace of Checa. Defending champion Max Biaggi was the first rider to fall more than a second off the pace and posted the sixth-best lap, while Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and Yamaha’s Marco Melandri squeezed into the final spots on the second row in seventh and eighth, respectively.
“Everything started with the crash in the last practice session,” said Biaggi. “It forced me to use the bike which I’ve used the least for Superpole. The inexplicable jerk which caused the crash came back in a lesser form on the second bike as well. In the end we earned this sixth place which isn’t bad if we consider the circumstances, but I can’t say that I’m completely sorted for tomorrow. Maybe we needed a little more time. Now we’ll have to try and shave something off during the warm-up and give it our most during the two races”.
Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty will start from the front row after trailing Checa in Superpole by 0.288 seconds.
Biaggi’s Aprilia teammate, Leon Camier, failed to make it into the final Superpole session but still managed ninth on the grid. The Brit was followed 0.051 seconds later by BMW’s Troy Corser, who rounded out the top-10 times with a fastest lap of 1’35.954. Occupying the final spots on the third row is Kawasaki’s Joan Lascorz and BMW’s Leon Haslam. After failing to make it into Superpole 2, Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio and Castrol Honda’s Ruben Xaus will have to start Sunday’s races from the top of Row 4 as Kawasaki’s Chris Vermeulen suffers even more of an uphill battle after qualifying 18th on the grid.
2011 World Superbike Assen Qualifying Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’35.292
2. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’35.560
3. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1’35.580
4. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1’35.920
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’36.138
6. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’36.302
7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’36.351
8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1’37.036
9. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1’35.903
10. Troy Corser (BMW) 1’35.954
11. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’35.983
12. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’36.089
13. Max Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1’36.148
14. Ruben Xaus (Honda) 1’36.260
15. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’36.361