Three Points Of Attack At Assen, Netherlands
April 12, 2011
WSBK, Assen, Netherlands, 12 April 2011 - All three official Kawasaki riders will be challenging at Assen, as Chris Vermeulen joins his fellow regulars Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes for what should be his first full race weekend of the season.
Despite being so early in its overall development programme, the Ninja ZX-10R has already proved its worth as a serious contender in the hands of Sykes and Lascorz, after only two rounds of a 13-round season have been completed. The push for top finishing positions continues apace with everyone involved in the Kawasaki effort energised by the front row qualifying performance of Sykes at the previous Donington round, followed by a strong top five race result from WSBK rookie rider Lascorz in the second contest of the day.
Assen is a firm favourite with the vast majority of riders but for Lascorz it will be another new challenge, as he has not ridden a Superbike before at the classic venue in the north of the Netherlands. He has lots of happy memories of racing there on Supersport machinery, however, which fills him with hopes of two strong results as he continues to recover full strength around his injured right shoulder and arm.
For Vermeulen Assen is almost a second home track when you consider his family connections to the Netherlands while Sykes is not only a fan of the track layout itself, he should be able to count on support from a good number of fans from Britain as many UK bikers make an annual pilgrimage to Assen for the WSBK race weekend.
In readiness for the Assen round both Chris and Tom undertook shakedown tests at the Brands Hatch circuit on Tuesday 12 April, all of which went according to plan. Now the entire team heads to round three in confident mood that all possible preparations have been made to take on their latest challenge.
The supported Pedercini Team Kawasaki squad will also arrive at Assen with their usual pair of Superbike riders, Roberto Rolfo and Mark Aitchison, but they have even more combined confidence after Rolfo beat the opposition at the opening Misano round of the Italian Superbike Championship (CIV) last weekend, while riding the all-new Ninja ZX-10R.
Tom Sykes: “I am looking forward to Assen partly because Donington was a bit unfortunate for me, but there were a lot of positives to take away about the ability of the new Ninja ZX-10R. I really enjoy racing at the Assen circuit and we were not too shabby on the older model last year. I never got to sample the real old Assen layout, but judging by the sections that remain the full old circuit would have been interesting to ride. But to be honest most circuits on the WSBK calendar are fun to ride, especially with this new bike that is able to work at each circuit. It is pleasing to ride. As long as the bike works at every track I am happy to ride at every track, but Assen is still one of my favourites.”
Joan Lascorz: “The result of Donington was good for my motivation and for Kawasaki to see that we are heading in a good way. Is nice to ride with people like Biaggi, Rea, Haslam, Xaus and others, so I learned a lot. I'm not at 100% yet physically but even with this we were able to make a good race in England. I'm better than I was in Australia and in Assen I will be better than I was in Donington. I like Assen, and used to made good races there in the past in WSS. We will see in WSBK how we can manage. Since Donington I have ridden some Supermotard with my chief engineer Pere Riba, which was very funny. We also tested with a 600 in a small circuit just to keep up my race fitness a little. Kawasaki is working so hard all the time so I hope to have a good weekend in the Netherlands.”
Chris Vermeulen: “My impressions of the new bike are all positive. Kawasaki has done an amazing job with it and I am just excited to look at the development of this bike, even thought it is in the early stages. I think the biggest difference on the new model comes from the chassis, the balance and the character the bike has in turning. Also the electronics are a big step forward. The engine feels smoother even thought it is more powerful, and the whole bike is what we need to compete.”
Roberto Rolfo: “My win in the Italian Superbike series at Misano boosted both my morale, and that of the team, because we were finally able to see the fruit of the work we had put in at Phillip Island and Donington. At Misano we found a good set-up for my Ninja and so we’ll go from there this weekend at Assen. I really like the track, as it is very technical and hard work. I’m confident and hope to do well in Sunday’s races, for my team and for all my fans.”
Mark Aitchison: “At Donington we collected a lot of valuable data that will enable us to refine our bike setting and hopefully make me more comfortable on the bike throughout the upcoming weekend. So really the goal for Assen in the first two days of practice and qualifying is to regain the feeling that I had with the bike in Phillip Island. Once I get this sensation back, I can really start to push for better lap times and look for some race consistency.”