Second Row For Sykes At Third Round

April 16, 2011

WSBK, Assen, Netherlands, 16 April 2011 - Tom Sykes continued his good qualifying form and now starts seventh on the 21-rider grid for Sunday’s 22-lap Assen Superbike races. Joan Lascorz was 11th and Chris Vermeulen 18th.

The three-strong official Kawasaki Superbike World Championship effort delivered two riders into the top 16 places after an astoundingly close combined qualifying result. Only 1.759 seconds covered the entire field before Superpole kicked off, with Sykes 13th and Lascorz 14th at that point, but only around 0.7 seconds from the fastest rider.

Sykes made it through to the final Superpole 3 session but could not use his qualifying tyre and he proved to be a second row starter, still well on course for two potentially strong races on Sunday.

Lascorz is also ready to make gains from his starting position and try to improve on his impressive season best of fifth. He was unlucky that the competition was particularly close in Superpole 2, meaning he could not challenge for a starting place on the front two rows.

For Vermeulen a Superpole place would have been within his grasp but for a couple of issues that affected both the first practice session and the first qualifying session on Friday, reducing his available track time. His knee recovery is continuing apace and his confidence was boosted that after such a long layoff he still has good pace at this stage of his recovery to full race readiness. He was less than 1.5 seconds from the pre-Superpole best in combined qualifying.

Dry and occasionally sunny spring weather has been a constant highlight of the weekend so far and expectations are that the weather will remain fine right through an eagerly anticipated raceday.

Supported Pedercini Team Kawasaki riders Roberto Rolfo and Mark Aitchison had a tough period of qualifying in relative terms, but were still not far from the leaders in their overall best lap times.

Tom Sykes: “It has been quite good for us during practice and qualifying and ending up on the front two rows in Superpole is always our aim this season. We have reached goal number one for the weekend so now we have to achieve the goals for tomorrow. We are relatively happy but because things have been so close in lap times I had to use one of my qualifying tyres in Superpole 1, and we ended up with an unexpected problem with a wheel that meant I had to use a tyre choice that would not have preferred. As we discovered it was not so good for just one or two laps of Superpole and Assen is a circuit that demands the right tyre. On race times we are not very far away at all so I am looking forward to tomorrow and getting away from the startline cleanly. I have done a couple of practice starts so hopefully we can make that count. There is no reason why we cannot go with them. Qualifying is unbelievably close, which shows how high the level of competition is in World Superbike this year.”

Joan Lascorz: “That was quite a tough period of qualifying and the times are very close, so I can say we are not so bad, maybe somewhere in the middle. For one tenth of a second I could have moved into the third and last Superpole session, but we just missed out. With a race tyre I have a good feeling and the qualifying tyre was almost the same as the race tyre; maybe we gained one tenth of a second using it. The tyres we will use tomorrow depend on the track temperature but we should have a good choice whatever the conditions. Changing direction in the fast corners is the main issue for me now, partly because my shoulder is still not 100% recovered yet. I am not sure what will be possible in the races tomorrow but we only work to finish in the top position, for the win!”

Chris Vermeulen: “We had a bit of bad luck yesterday, and lost a lot of track time. We basically had a bout 40 minutes out of the two hours, and it was not what we needed as I am still trying to get a better understanding of the bike. Today we improved a lot and we were only a few tenths away from qualifying into Superpole, simply because the qualifying session was held in the morning. In the afternoon free session we set a time that would have got us into Superpole. I’m only a tenth or so off some of the other guys so it shows we are improving and getting used to the new bike.”