Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes gave his team plenty to smile about as the British rider finished World Superbike second practice at Assen top of the pile, half a second ahead of Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes.
Lowes put in a sterling effort towards the end of the session to book his place in Superpole 2 in style, but it was his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli who began the brightest in FP2.
The Frenchman swooped to the front of the session with just five minutes gone, posting a 1’57 while the rest were hitting the two-minute mark and he continued to improve as proceedings went on.
Assen had endured a wet morning practice session and so the afternoon proved a difficult one to gauge as the circuit began to dry out with the rain having stopped.
As it was, a number of riders began to improve on their earlier times with Leon Camier, Nicky Hayden, Josh Brookes and Davide Giugliano among the initial top ten riders on the separate timesheets, as no-one could impress on Sykes’ morning effort.
Sykes was still in the pits for a large portion of the first half of the session, his time secure, but Lowes made an excellent lap with 20 minutes gone, taking top spot only for it to be stolen off him by Jonathan Rea.
Rea’s 1’54.3 was then bettered by the Ulsterman on his next lap, as he stormed through and under in all three sectors to consolidate his position by two-hundredths of a second.
With the action firmly underway, and only Sykes, Karel Abraham and wildcard Pawel Szkopek the riders with no improvement from the morning, the Yorkshireman decided to strike.
Sykes left the pits and improved soon after, taking his ZX-10R into third place and astonishingly his time was matched exactly later in the session by Sylvain Guintoli – both riders sitting on a 1’54.424.
Both Pata Yamahas were out working hard now and it was Guintoli who struck first, improving to take top spot with a 1’53.8 but Sykes bit back in impressive fashion, posting a 1’53.2.
The clock was ticking down as the pace quickened, a number of riders including Aruba.it Ducati’s Davide Giugliano and the Hondas of Michael Van Der Mark - who crashed again at Meeuwenmeer - and Nicky Hayden staking their claims.
Giugliano stuck his Panigale fourth only to have it snatched away from him by Hayden, with Van Der Mark improving well into sixth but it was all about Lowes as the Yamaha rider swooped in to put his YZF-R1 on top with a fine 1’52 lap.
Only three minutes were remaining in the session as the rain began to hammer down, and with it ended any hopes of a response to Lowes lap as he booked his ticket into the shootout in style.
Xavi Fores put in a memorable shift on his Barni Racing Team Ducati to take fourth, just ahead of Hayden and Rea, the defending champion not as scintillating as he was in FP1.
Rounding out the top ten, and the competitors heading straight into Superpole 2 were Giugliano, Ioda Racing’s Lorenzo Savadori, Van Der Mark and Chaz Davies, the Welshman just scraping in ahead of Leon Camier.
Joining MV Agusta’s Camier in another volatile Superpole 1 will be the notable names of Alex DeAngelis, and the BMW quartet of Brookes, Abraham, Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger.