Day 1 of free practice for the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship at Assen saw Aruba.it Racing – Ducati riders Álvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies take sixth and ninth place respectively in the provisional standings. In wintry conditions, with a maximum air/track temperature of 7°/15° C, today’s two sessions were extremely hard-fought affairs, during which the Spanish rider and his British team-mate struggled more than expected in trying to reach a convincing set-up. At the end of FP1 and FP2 the top nine riders were separated by just four-tenths of a second.
Tomorrow the third and final free practice session will be held at 09:00 CET, followed two hours later at 11:00 by Superpole qualifying for the starting-grid line-up for Race 1, which gets underway at 14:00.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #19) – 6th – 1’35.547
“Today was a bit of an unusual day. The temperatures were very low and we used a slightly different setting from the last races to try and be quick right from the start. Maybe it was because the track was too cold, but I wasn’t able to improve the way I wanted during the first session. In the afternoon session, after a few laps, we decided to go back to the set-up used in the last races. The mechanics were very quick to carry out the modifications required and the feeling with the bike improved immediately. Basically in two practice sessions, we only lapped without any problems for the last ten minutes. These things happen sometimes, but luckily we were able to finish the day with a good feeling. The times are all close together, but I think we’ve found the right direction for the weekend.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 9th – 1’35.813
“It wasn’t so bad today and the lap times were really close. We are in ninth place but only 0.4s away from the top and I felt like there is more on the table. I had a really small crash, because I’m struggling to do what I want in Turn 5; it’s quite cold and I don’t have full confidence there. As soon as I went on the track this morning, my Panigale V4 R was working pretty good so I’m reasonably happy and at the end of the day we definitely found our base set-up. I have a lot more confidence with the front of the bike, which has probably gone up from 60 to 90%, and I’m much happier than what I was in the early rounds of the season.”