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Assen WorldSBK: Rea takes charge as Aprilia find pace

Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea had taken charge at the top of the free practice timesheet this afternoon at Assen, putting in a 1’35.383 at the beginning of his customary free practice two race run but he was pushed hard by title rival Chaz Davies who finished a tenth of a second in arrears.

Rea began his long run with 20 minutes of the session left and only moved out of the 1’35s bracket twice in a 18-lap run as he dealt with traffic, making the Castletown resident again the man to beat in the first race tomorrow lunchtime but Davies will have something to say as he has in recent years at Circuit Van Drenthe as the Welshman also has consistent 1’36s pace.

“I am really satisfied with today as we managed to set up the bike a little bit in the morning and confirm some suspension items we have been testing recently, in Motorland Aragon and Portimao. Once we confirmed those, in the afternoon we decided to make a long run with some of the new Pirelli tyre options that they brought for both the front and the rear. I rolled out of that simulation after half distance and came into the pits,” said Rea.


“We tried another set of tyres and went back to the morning settings, which had different final gear ratios and were a little bit softer in the suspension. I felt a little bit more comfortable then. I made a pretty much a full race simulation at a pace I feel quite satisfied with. After gaining that knowledge I know exactly the critical areas to improve to be strong at the end of the races. As far as Fridays go, today’s has been a positive one.”

Tom Sykes, on the second Kawasaki, took 16 laps to better his time from this morning and it running around the same kind of times as Davies although dipping into the 1’35s a couple more occasions than the Aruba Ducati man. Jordi Torres marched into fourth place with his final flying lap of the session after putting in 26 laps.

Both the Milwaukee Aprilias improved massively after lunch. Lorenzo Savadori recovered from an awful opening session where he spent most of his time in the garage, sticking in a 1’35.938 for fifth place while Eugene Laverty ended in seventh place on a 1’36.150. The Monegasque was consistently quick over the first half of a lap but was losing in the second, so some work there overnight should see Laverty very much in contention tomorrow.

Leon Camier sealed a place in Superpole two with his best of 1’36.095, improving by almost a second despite worries over fluid leaking from the MV Agusta’s motor again. The former BSB champ sits between the two Milwaukee bikes in seventh place.

Michael Van Der Mark had two contre temps in the session, the first with Marco Melandri in pitlane and then a more serious one as Raffaele de Rosa was dawdling and the Pata Yamaha man almost crashed into the back of him. Magic Mikey eventually finished in eighth place one ahead of team-mate Alex Lowes.

Lowes crashed for the second time today, going down in the fast Hoge Heide section with only a few minutes gone but after improving to a 1’36.226 which was enough to keep him in ninth place. Melandri bagged the final automatic Superpole two spot but is nine-tenths off the pace.

Randy Krummenacher got as high as seventh on the combined sheets with five minutes left but slipped back to 11th, missing the top ten by 0.022s. Xavi Fores ground to a halt on the half hour and didn’t make it back out on his Barni Ducati while Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden missed SP2 again with the American looking fairly dischuffed in his garage.

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