Assen. Saturday’s Assen (NED) action was shorter than expected for the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) and the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. The afternoon’s opening race was cancelled due to snow. In the morning’s Superpole qualifying session, Markus Reiterberger (GER) had clocked the third fastest time on his BMW S 1000 RR, earning himself a place on the front row of the grid for the first time in his WorldSBK career. Lady Luck was not on the side of his team-mate Tom Sykes (GBR), whose flying Superpole lap was interrupted by a red flag. The British rider ultimately had to settle for sixth place.
The two BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders had shown in Friday’s practice that they are quick at Assen. Sykes set the fastest time of the day on his RR, while Reiterberger was fourth fastest. They then continued where they left off in the third practice session on Saturday morning with second place for Sykes and fourth for Reiterberger. Superpole was red flagged and ended with just one minute of qualifying remaining. Reiterberger was third at the time. Sykes, on the other hand, had just set by far the fastest time in sector one when the red flags appeared. As such, he had to settle for sixth place and the second row of the grid.
The start of the race was initially delayed as snow started to fall, but was subsequently cancelled. The race will be held tomorrow at 11:00 instead of the Superpole Race while race two will be started as usual at 14:00.
Quotes after Saturday at Assen.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We brought more updates for the RR to Assen, which have allowed us to take another step forward. Markus is feeling better all the time on the bike, and it is great to see him secure a place on the front row for the first time. Unfortunately, the red flag came at the wrong time for Tom in Superpole – it was definitely going to be a fantastic lap time. We then had typically crazy April weather in the afternoon. There was no chance of us going racing when the snow started to fall. We must now hope that the weather is better tomorrow. Our goal is to convert the good performances we have shown so far into corresponding results this weekend.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “I am really pleased for Markus to get that front row start. It was a good, clean and solid lap from him. There might have been a little bit more in there but nevertheless a front row start. Flip downside for that was Tom obviously never got the chance to complete his lap which at the time the red flag came out was certainly clearly going to be a pole position for him so that was a real shame. The rest of the day has been a bit of a hanging around day, kicking our heels and waiting for the outcome from race direction which quite rightly called the end of the racing for the weather conditions.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I felt really good all weekend. I am grateful to the team that we have made so much progress. Third place in Superpole was awesome, as I have never started from the front row. We’ve only made a few changes before the third practice session, because it was so cold. The air temperature was zero degrees Celsius or below at times, while the track temperature was just three degrees. It went really well and I was fourth fastest. We started Superpole on race tyres and the first six laps were very good. We then went out on the qualifying tyres really early, which ultimately worked in my favour. When the session was suspended, I was assured of the third spot on the front row. The cancellation of the race was a pity for the fans here but I was honestly pretty glad about the decision. The track conditions were far from ideal and it would not have been without risk to race under these conditions.”
Tom Sykes: “It was a very strange day considering the weather but having said that I am happy with our progress again over the weekend. The whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team is working again in an effective way. We got a lot of information in FP1 which enabled us to improve the set-up of the BMW S 1000 RR. We’ve been consistently where we needed to be over the course of the weekend. Superpole was going to plan, we put the qualifying tyre in and the bike was on rails. In the first sector it was very easy to ride and the extra grip certainly enabled me to do a few more things with the set-up and the way I rode the bike. Sure the lap time would have been nice and probably could have secured pole position but it is what it is. I’m mainly disappointed to start from the second row because we have been inside the top three all weekend and then just got caught out with the red flag, but I am confident for the race. I want to get a good start and use the clear track to our advantage. That’s in an ideal world; I just don’t want to get caught up in the turns because with our bike set-up we are able some really good things with the chassis and that’s why I am able to do such a good lap time. So we’ll try to get to the front or into the top three as soon as we can.”