Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes outpaced the SBK field as riders got Round 3 action underway at Assen. The Dutch circuit greeted the World Superbike
paddock with blustery conditions, with Sykes’ best lap 1.643 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor and current SBK points leader, Aprilia factory rider Sylvain Guintoli. The Frenchman was followed on the timesheet by his teammate, Eugene Laverty.
The Assen conditions claimed several riders on the day, with Aragon double winner Chaz Davies going down, as well as Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano and Alstare Ducati’s Ayrton Badovini. The most consequential crash occurred to Pata Honda rider Leon Haslam
, who crashed at the end of the morning session. Fractures to his left tibula and fibula were later confirmed at the Assen hospital. A team press release states the British rider is being transferred a hospital in nearby Gronigen, where an operation will pin the fractured leg.
The poor conditions also held down lap times considerably, with Sykes’ 1’57.190 well off the average 2012 race pace in the 1’38 range. Both Sykes and Guintoli have excelled in wet weather conditions, each securing multiple wins last season during wet races, and they led the SBK field in the morning practice session as well.
Sykes will look for his 12th career SBK pole position on Saturday. The British rider has been on a Superpole tear throughout the 2012 season, extending into the current SBK campaign.
Italian Marco Melandri leads provisional Row 2 after Friday’s qualifying aboard his factory BMW, with countrymen Giugiliano and Badovini recovering from their crashes to place a respective fifth and sixth.
Jonathan Rea placed seventh on the provisional grid. The Pata Honda rider is a four-time victor at Assen, including a double in 2010. Rea will lead a solo Honda charge on Sunday, with the added motivation of performing well at the Ten Kate team’s local round.
British rider Leon Camier returned to action aboard the Fixi Crescent Suzuki at 10th fastest, one position behind 2011 SBK champion Carlos Checa. Davies, who sits second in the championship after his Aragon triumph, ended Friday 14th-fastest.
2013 World Superbike Assen Friday Qualifying:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'57.190
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1'58.824
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1'59.068
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1'59.316
5. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1'59.317
6. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) 1'59.754
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 2'00.197
8. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 2'00.553
9. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2'01.706
10. Leon Camier (Suzkui) 2'01.728
11. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 2'02.039
12. Mark Aitchison (Ducati) 2'02.685
13. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 2'02.915
14. Chaz Davies (BMW) 2'03.384
15. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki) 2'04.401
16. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 2'04.582
17. Ivan Clementi (BMW) 2'04.849
18. Federico Sandi (Kawasaki) 2'07.893
19. Vittorio Iannuzzo (BMW) 2'19.197