The fifth round of the 2007 World Superbike Championship began today at a sun-drenched Assen Circuit in The Netherlands. Last year's wet weekend was a distant memory as the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda riders took to the 4.55km track for the first qualifying session. James Toseland secured the fastest lap time of the day, while team-mate Roberto Rolfo qualified in fifteenth place.
Toseland proved once again that he is a force to be reckoned with in the 2007 series as he set the fastest lap eight times in morning practice and three in the afternoon official session. His immediate fast pace gave the team the chance to concentrate on the race set-up of the CBR1000RR, ensuring that the British rider is more than ready for Sunday's race. His best time stands at 1'39.603.
After a challenging weekend in Valencia, Roberto Rolfo is determined to get his 2007 campaign back on track. He performed well in today's session, but got caught behind a group of slower riders which forced him to settle for fifteenth position. His final best time was 1'41.109.
Ronald ten Kate, Team Manager:
"Today has been a great start for James - he was immediately fast in the free practice so we were able to go straight into working on the race set-up. We have been testing the race tyres, which are sure to be an issue with the high temperatures here this weekend. We are constantly making small improvements to the bike, but generally it is all good for James. Although Roby's position does not show it, it seems he is in contact with the group in front of him once again. He had a traffic problem when we put the soft tyre in and he didn't manage to go any faster so his best lap time was on the racing tyre. I'm sure we can improve tomorrow, so let's see."
"Today has been a really good day. We were second quickest this morning on the race tyre and I think other riders were using the softer one. Right at the end there I did put that softer tyre in and it worked quite a lot better than the race tyre. I'm pleased with today - we've got a bit of work to do on the set-up to get the bike ready for tomorrow but overall I'm pretty happy."
"We have changed the bike a lot from when we were here last year, trying the settings from 2006 and giving the bike I've had this year a bit of a go and they are both completely different. We've also been testing the hardest tyre Pirelli has got because we thought it would be the only one that was able to do any good for the race. Right at the last moment we put a soft tyre to do a lap and I decided to stay out, I did eight laps and my time looked good so we've got a few things to think about tonight. Despite the fact that I'm missing quite a bit in the second split and missing a bit of feeling with the back and I'm struggling to touch the gas the way I want and not feeling as comfortable as I should be, I'm looking forward to tomorrow and feeling good in general".
Max Biaggi - 12th, 1:40.804:
"This morning we had some settings problems, so we made quite a few changes to the bike for the qualifying session in the afternoon. Then we focussed on sorting out the engine braking and tomorrow we will try and find a good balance to the bike so that I can push hard. I have ridden this track many times in the past, but this is my first time riding the new layout, so there was that to learn as well today."
Yukio Kagayama - 17th, 1:41.273:
"Normally I like Assen and normally it likes me, but today was very strange. I did not find hardly any good grip at all today and I'm not sure exactly why. We made some suspension changes to the bike for the afternoon qualifying, but we had a little bit of a clutch problem and I couldn't push hard. Tomorrow we'll make some more changes to the suspension and see if we can get better grip. We need it!"
"I am not happy with this session. We did a lot of good work at the beginning and it was ok, but it wasn't so good at the end because there were a lot of slower riders in front of me that I couldn't pass. I was trying to do a 1'40 lap time but I lost it and only managed to fit in one more lap before the end of the session. The session could have gone a lot better. Having said that, I am happy with my progression because I think my race rhythm is not too bad."
Noriyuki Haga (2nd - 1'39.750 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"I used a soft tyre for this afternoon's session but I know I won't be able to use it for the race because it will be too warm for it to last the race distance. I have already made a tyre choice for tomorrow, though, and we will make some more minor modifications tomorrow to try and get pole position. Second place is okay today but I want to go for pole position tomorrow."
Troy Corser (5th - 1'39.938 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"Today has been good for my first day on this bike at this track. We now have a good idea of the direction we need to go in tomorrow. This afternoon we made some changes and found some positive results as well as some negative ones. I also rode both bikes to get as much data as possible, but we didn't have enough time to really try out all the changes we made.
Tomorrow will be about finding a good race setting and to continue testing the changes we have made to the gearbox and suspension. I'm feeling good about how it's going, though. We're really close."
- 1. J. Toseland - 1'39.603
- 2. N. Haga - 1'39.750
- 3. R. Xaus - 1'39.765
- 4. T. Bayliss - 1'39.806
- 5. T. Corser - 1'39.938
- 6. K. Muggeridge - 1'40.092
- 7. F. Nieto - 1'40.201
- 8. J. Smrz - 1'40.355
- 9. L. Lanzi - 1'40.445
- 10. J. Brookes - 1'40.480