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WorldSBK Assen: Bautista takes charge in second session

Current WorldSBK series leader Alvaro Bautista took charge of the Assen timesheets this afternoon, going underneath his own lap record from 2019 to lead Jonathan Rea by the business end of three tenths.

The Aruba Ducati man set a 1’34.382 with ten minutes left to run and Rea had no answer, finishing on a 1’34.680 with team-mate Alex Lowes jumping up to third with two minutes to go.

On the other side of the Ducati garage, it was a solid Friday Michael Rinaldi, with the Italian starting strongly in fourth in the opening session and then fourth again in FP2, although in FP2, he was 11th for most of the session. A fresh tyre at the end of FP2 took him up to seventh overall.


It was a good start for Yamaha, with Toprak Razgatlioglu topping the opening session in the morning before putting in a commendable long run on the SCX tyre in FP2, gaining valuable data for race one on Saturday. Despite being second for most of the session in FP2, Toprak didn’t push for a lap time but had far and away one of the best long runs of the day, having been under the race lap record right from the start.

At the end of the session, he finished fourth, lapping every lap within a quarter of a second of his fastest time in the long run. For teammate Andrea Locatelli, he was seventh in the morning session, eighth in FP2 and ninth overall. Toprak didn’t improve his lap time in FP2, relying on his FP1 effort.

The Kawasaki charge came on strong in the afternoon as both Rea and teammate Lowes improved their times compared to the morning. The six-time World Champion and 15-time Assen race winner improved by half a second to put himself right in contention. Rea began a flying lap right at the end of FP2 but was losing most of his time, in comparison to Bautista, in the fourth sector, with about a tenth and a half to find in that area. For Lowes, he was fourth overall after being third in FP2, a strong start to the Dutch Round for him.

It was a very up and down day for Honda, with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) shining brightly in FP1 and in second coming into the afternoon, whilst in FP2, he suffered a crash at Ossebroken which brought out the red flag. The Spaniard gingerly got to his feet and with 17 minutes left on the clock, got back out and set some respective lap times, finishing ninth in FP2. On the combined times, he was the fifth overall, a very impressive opening day at Assen. Teammate Xavi Vierge was only 18th in FP1 but found pace in the afternoon session, immediately going quicker than his morning time to place himself 15th overall, showing improvement but still with some work to do.

In the factory BMW box, it was a mixed day too: Scott Redding was ninth in the morning and broke into the top ten for the first time in a round this year, although he crashed at Turn 1 in FP2. Thankfully, Redding was OK and got back to the pits, although he just missed out on a top ten overall, placing 11th. Redding has found gains in the electronics between Aragon and Assen and will hope to have a solid platform to build from throughout the remainder of the weekend.

Returning to action, home-hero Michael van der Mark was on the bike for the first time all year after his leg fracture, finishing 21st in the morning, before improving in the afternoon to go 20th overall.

The usual names were up at the sharp end in terms of Independent riders, with Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) the man to beat as the American completed the top six overall. Loris Baz (Bonovo BMW) was top BMW in the session with eighth place overall, whilst Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) completed the top ten. Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) was 12th ahead of Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti) and the returning Leon Haslam (TPR Team Pedercini Racing).

Aiming to break into the top 15 overall, Roberto Tamburini (Motoxracing Yamaha) took 16th come the close of action, ahead of fellow countryman and impressive wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing), Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha) and Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport Yamaha). Eugene Laverty (Bonovo BMW) was 21st overall but suffered a heavy crash at the Ramshoek and was ruled out of FP2 after a check-up at the medical centre, leaving him pending for Saturday.

Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team), teammate Leandro Mercado, Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team) and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) rounded out the running order, with Bernardi suffering a fall at Turn 11 in FP1.

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