James Toseland (Winston Ten Kate Honda) scored what could be a very valuable top four placing at Assen after the dry first qualifying session, scoring a best time of 1'40.242 in the process. The new-look Assen was a new challenge to all the Superbike riders, with Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) tenth overall, and well inside Superpole qualifying - should the second qualifying session on Saturday morning prove to be wet.
First qualifying was a largely close affair, with second through to 13th places only separated by a second, as riders learned the fastest way around the 4.555km track. Fastest lap of the day was a 1'39.336 from Troy Bayliss.
Ronald Ten Kate - Team Manager;
"A quite good result, considering we still have some issues to resolve. Also, our home circuit has changed a bit and we definitely seem to be struggling a bit on the first part of the track, the new part. So we need to change things a little bit on the set-up for that part, to allow the riders to go fast there. As soon as we can have that resolved I think we can have them both on the front row. It was important for us to be near the front today, so that we ensured we would reach Superpole, because the weather forecast for tomorrow is quite bad. For sure my staff will work hard to get things even better tomorrow, because our aim is a little bit higher than we have achieved now."
James Toseland - Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider (4th Position - Fastest Lap 1'40.242 - 23 Laps);
"A difficult day and I have had to get used to it all again, after being used to nought miles per hour for the last three weeks! Now it's back up to 160mph. The bike was OK at the start, but we need to put in a little bit of work and for me to just get back into the riding. Both Karl and I have to improve on the first sector, so we maybe just have to do a little bit more work on the bike for that really tight section. On the other sections the bike is really good, so I don't really want to sacrifice three-quarters of the track just for one quarter. We just need to work a bit more on the bike but our speed is quite consistent."
Karl Muggeridge - Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider (10th Position - Fastest Lap 1'40.746 - 21 Laps);
"The track's really nice we just need to understand the way the bike's going to work round here a little bit. We need to work with gearing to get out of corners a bit better, but I'm reasonably happy with the way it's going now. We can move up from here, and with more laps and more time, we will get there."
"I'm really pretty happy with the way things are going" declared Troy, who has signed up for another two years with the Italian squad. "I had a nice break in the three weeks since Brands, hopped back on the bike this morning and basically fell straight into a good rhythm. The team worked really good today and it's just nice to know I'm back where we left off. Both Lorenzo and I did a good job today, let's hope it can continue throughout the weekend. I quite like the new part of the track actually, for some reason the old part was more flowing but I always had a bit of trouble there. Now the bike works really well round there for me and I've got nothing to complain about. Apparently there'll be a change in the weather for the worse tomorrow but I'm not bothered. We've got a good dry setting and we can work on the wet setting if it does."
"Both Troy and I went really well today and this gives me great satisfaction" declared Lorenzo. "Assen is a circuit that I really like and I did a lot of good laps on my own this morning to get to know the new part. We still have to improve with the race tyre duration even though my pace is good so there's some work to do there. Considering that it is only Friday, I think we have a good starting-point. On paper the new part of the circuit actually looks worse than it is, but all in all it's pretty easy to ride. It's important to start at the front here in Assen because you never know what the weather is doing from one session to the next. We've staked a good place in Superpole, now we've got to fight for it tomorrow".
Yukio Kagayama - 7th, 1:40.567:
Although seventh is not particularly a good position I am happy because I enjoyed myself on the bike today. Also, I think I am one of the few riders who actually likes the new first section! I am even using the same gear ratios! I compared the position of my split times there this year compared to last year and I am happy because I am higher up this time. I had no big problems today and spent most of the time learning the new track layout and trying different tyres. At the moment I am happy with everything but I need to finish in the top four tomorrow and make sure of a good grid place.
Troy Corser- 12th, 1:40.837:
No dramas, no worries today - just cruising, learning the track and trying out different gearing. I don't like the new section at all and feel the flowing nature of the track has been spoilt. But I understand why they've done what they've done and it's up to all of us to just get on with it. I had a few little problems with the brakes but nothing too serious. I'm not worried about being 12th today as it's what happens tomorrow that counts.
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia);
"I struggled for most of the session but we changed the balance of the bike at the end and found a big improvement. We tried to get through as much as we could today, just in case it rains tomorrow, and it was hard work. In the end I improved my lap time by a second at the end, although it didn't feel that fast when I was out there. We still need to work on the set-up for the race though, although I think we've found the tyre to use in the race. It's a shame that they've changed the circuit because the bit that's been taken out was my favourite part. The new section is not really a problem, though, as it is so slow that you can probably run anything through there, it's the rest of the circuit where I still have a few problems."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia);
"Not so bad. It's a new circuit now so it was important to learn the layout. The new part is slower not a problem for me, but we have a bit of chatter and I would like some more rear traction. We'll change some settings for tomorrow and I think that this will be a solution. I hope so, but as always we must just wait and see what tomorrow brings."
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France);
"It's been a busy time recently as I have been testing at Magny Cours for the Bol d'Or. I'm quite confident for this weekend. Already the feeling with the bike is good and I think that we will be able to have a good weekend here."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France);
"I'm looking to improve on 19th place tomorrow and I think that if we can make some improvements to the settings then we can challenge for superpole tomorrow."
- 1. Bayliss - Ducati - 1'39.336
- 2. Lanzi - Ducati - 1'39.888
- 3. Fabrizio - Honda - 1'40.171
- 4. Toseland - Winston Ten Kate Honda - 1'40.242
- 5. Barros - Honda - 1'40.415