Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) powered to the provisional pole at the end of the first day of action at Assen. The Texan, a total newcomer to the Dutch track, set an impressive time of 1 minute 38.747 seconds, four-tenths of a second away from last year’s record time of Bayliss in qualifying, but which was obtained on qualifying tyres. Spies was the only rider to dip under the 1’39 mark, but the session was a hard-fought affair as behind the Yamaha there were 15 riders in the space of 1 second.
Second time of the day went to Jakub Smrz (Ducati Guandalini), a fraction ahead of the four-cylinder machines of Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare) and Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda). Fifth place went to Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), the first Italian in the standings, while a convincing Regis Laconi (Ducati DFX) and the other Suzuki Alstare machine of Max Neukirchner, together with Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) make up the provisional front row.
Troy Corser put in another positive performance on his BMW S1000 RR to take the eleventh quickest slot, one position in front of the championship leader Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who lapped in a good race pace. Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike) crashed out towards the end of the session, while Assen proved to be an unfortunate circuit once again for John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda), who crashed heavily in the morning’s free practice session. The American dislocated his left hip in the crash and will miss the race. Tomorrow a decision will be taken on any eventual further measures and how long he needs for recovery.
Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) was quickest off the mark in Supersport today. Following the disappointment of Valencia, the Spanish rider gave further confirmation of his prowess and progress in the Netherlands as he powered to a time of 1 minute 41.650 seconds in free practice. The only other rider close to Lascorz was Valencia winner Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport), two-tenths off the pole pace. The front row was completed by rapidly-improving Italian Michele Pirro (Yamaha Lorenzini) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda). Row 2 went to Australian Garry McCoy with the first Be1 Racing Triumph, with Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda), Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Dutch rider Barry Veneman (Hoegee Suzuki) alongside. 2008 champion and Assen race winner Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) could only manage the ninth quickest time.
The opening Superstock 1000 session was dominated by Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Honda). On his team’s home track, the Frenchman was immediately on the pace, setting a 1 minute 42.775 seconds at the start of the session, a time that never came under threat from his adversaries. Second-placed Claudio Corti (Suzuki Alstare) was exactly one second behind, with Dutchman Raymond Schouten (VD Heyden Motors Yamaha) 1.2” away. The overnight front row was completed by Italian Davide Giugliano with an MV Agusta. Last year’s European Superstock 600 champion Loris Baz (MRS Racing Yamaha) looks to be getting into his stride with seventh quickest time, while Xavier Simeon (Ducati Xerox Junior Team) couldn’t go any higher than ninth place.