Alvaro Bautista was fastest on the opening day of the Pirelli Dutch Round. The reigning World Champion set a strong pace in both sessions, and had two tenths in his pocket.
Alex Lowes concluded Friday in second place with a 1’34.547s finishing 0.257s ahead of teammate Jonathan Rea. Rookies Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner took fourth and fifth spots. Local hero Michael van der Mark was sixth on the opening day of his home round finishing 0.595s behind Bautista. After a minor electronics problem in FP1, Toprak Razgatlioglu was out on track in FP2 finishing in tenth place in the combined classification.
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is well underway and back in action at the Pirelli Ditch Round and the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands. It’s shaping up to be a belting weekend and with a myriad of protagonists, there remains one rider to be beaten. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was on top by nearly a quarter of a second going into Saturday, but don’t discount his rivals just yet.
Like in FP1, it was Alvaro Bautista who topped the running in the afternoon and his pace was quite simply relentless. 22 laps with multiple in the low-to-mid 1’34s, the reigning World Champion was in fine form as he placed Ducati on the top step. First Kawasaki on the timesheets was Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), with the #22 getting to grips with the Assen track like in many years previous with a front row last year and his only career pole coming back in 2018. Teammate Jonathan Rea was the last rider to improve his overall time and took third in the session and overall.
Once again, the Independent riders were in mighty form and it was the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team who were fourth and fifth and therefore best Yamahas. Double WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter was fourth and set the second-highest amount of laps throughout the session, whilst it was teammate Remy Gardner in fifth place, having been third in the morning session.
WorldSBK action resumes on Saturday with FP3 from 09:00 (Local Time), followed by Tissot Superpole at 11:10 and Race 1 at 14:00.
WorldSBK Combined Results after FP2
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’34.316s
2. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.231s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.257s
4. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.284s
5. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +397s
6. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.585s
P1 | Alvaro Bautista | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati | 1’34.316s
“It has been I think a positive day for us, especially because from the beginning, I had a really good feedback with the bike. Normally at this track, especially in the morning, in the past I struggled a little bit with the contact feeling with the tyres. But today from the first lap, I felt quite good. I felt quite confident. For sure, especially on the rear, the grip was not fantastic. That’s true that I was using the hard compound in the morning in front, but the feeling was not too bad. Then in the afternoon, we tried the one in the front that is the tyre that normally is the tyre I like most. At this track, it helps me to have more confidence in the front.
The feeling was good with the bike, so we decide to not touch anything to improve the rear grip because also, the lap time was not too bad and especially the pace was quite strong. I think it was a positive day. I’m happy with the feeling with the bike. We have to see tomorrow the weather condition because seems like it will be a bit different from today. Maybe we’ll have some rain. Let’s see what will happen tomorrow.”
P6 | Michael van der Mark | ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
“I think at the end, we finished quite good. In FP1, I didn’t like the feeling with the bike and wasn’t really enjoying it; I felt fast but I wasn’t. In FP2, we changed quite a lot on the bike and I immediately felt better with more confidence. I started on used tyres and was doing the same lap times as this morning, then we put a different rear tyre in and was quite happy with it. I was having more fun, therefore riding smoother and that’s what you have to do at this circuit. Honestly, I’d like a dry track; I think we could do really well. In the wet, it’s always tricky.”
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