Jake Dixon claimed pole position by just 0.004s in an intense battle for the top spot in Datatag Qualifying for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Assen this afternoon, edging out front row debutant Tarran Mackenzie and standings leader Leon Haslam.
A hectic Datatag Qualifying kicked off with Haslam setting the initial pace in Q1, setting the fastest time of the weekend ahead of Josh Brookes after the first flying laps, but Dixon was attacking and soon he had moved to the top with a time of 1m:35.716s.
Haslam held second ahead of Mackenzie and Tommy Bridewell who had pushed up the order after returning to action following his free practice crash this morning. Showdown contender Bradley Ray nudged his way into the top 18 to make the cut for Q2, but Danny Buchan ended the session in the gravel and will start 18th on the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki tomorrow as he was unable to take part in the second stage.
In Q2 the pace was electrifying with the top 16 riders lapping inside the existing lap record, however for Showdown contender Ray it wasn’t enough and he will start 16th on the grid for tomorrow’s opening race.
Peter Hickman was another of the Showdown contenders to miss out on Q3; he was pushed outside the top nine in the final moments as Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran moved into contention, but at the front Dixon was pushing hard.
The RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki set the benchmark in Q2 with the fastest ever Bennetts BSB lap of Assen with a time of 1m:35.579s to head off Haslam and Glenn Irwin on the Be Wiser Ducati.
Gino Rea had been impressing on the OMG Suzuki and a crash at turn 15 put the OMG Suzuki rider out of contention for Q3 as he starts from eleventh on the grid ahead of James Ellison and Michael Laverty for race one.
The top nine then returned to the track for one final time in Q3 and although the pace wasn’t as fast as the previous session it was Glenn Irwin who headed the times after the first flying laps. A lap later and Bridewell had surged ahead to prove he was back in contention despite his earlier huge crash.
Dixon though went to the top, but Mackenzie then displaced him at the top of the times, however Dixon wasn’t done and he had another lap to fight for the pole position which he did to move ahead by just 0.004s.
Haslam will complete the front row as he bids to extend his advantage tomorrow with Glenn Irwin heading row two ahead of Bridewell and Brookes. Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon returned to Q3 and he will start seventh on the grid ahead of Honda Racing’s Dan Linfoot and O’Halloran.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Assen, Datatag Qualifying result:
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 1m:35.639s
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +0.004s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.248s
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.423s
- Tommy Bridewell (Moto Rapido Ducati) +0.514s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +0.723s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +1.173s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +1.256s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +1.580s
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(RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki)
“I haven’t been feeling the best so far this weekend; I started to feel a bit ill midweek and the team said it would pass, but hopefully tomorrow is a step towards feeling better again!
“We have worked hard on race distance during free practice and it was really great to do the fast laps in qualifying on the softer option tyre as it is nice to try and find the limit of what you have to offer.
“Overall I am happy with qualifying and the feeling we have for tomorrow. I have done my homework and so hopefully that will pay off in the races so we can try to close down Leon again.”
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