Very low air and track temperatures, but thankfully dry weather, welcomed the KRT duo to the 4.542km long Assen as they experienced their opening two outings on the new Ninja ZX-10RR at this classic circuit
Rea looked on course to take the fastest time of all today but a late push from Tom Sykes saw Rea finish up just 0.003 seconds from the overnight lead. The times were incredibly tight in general, with Haslam a mere 0.013 seconds from the fastest, and the top five riders were covered by just 0.031 seconds after two 50-minute practice sessions.
Jonathan had started the day well, leading the first practice session by 0.165 seconds with Leon seventh at that point, before his move up to third after FP2. Finishing second and third respectively gives each rider a boost that there will be more to come on Saturday, first in Superpole qualifying and then in the opening race of the weekend.
A bizarre start to Friday for the WorldSBK riders saw a red flag being thrown to halt FP1 shortly after it had started. A wild hare on the circuit caused a possible hazard to the riders, before it was chased off to safety.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “A very positive day to be honest. We have changed the bike set-up a little bit and gone back in a different direction from what we had been in the winter tests and the first few rounds. I have gained a little bit of agility on the bike set-up and I am able to do things a little bit differently. The bike is turning better in the longer corners and I am able to make the difference, so the window is a little bit bigger. With such a big change, step-by-step, I need to adapt a little bit more. Of course it is a learning process and I feel quite good, but here the temperatures are so low that it is important for us to analyse both the SC0 and SC1 option rear tyres for tomorrow. We need to understand exactly where the crossover in performance is, if any. Then we can find our race set-up. I feel quite positive after the work we have done today and we understand where we need to improve for tomorrow.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I am really happy because I did not expect to be third quickest. Our plan was to do this morning with a hard tyre and this afternoon with a soft tyre and we did over race distance in both sessions. So to just use two tyres over the whole day I am really happy. Always Assen is close, one tenth here, one tenth there, and the race is always a close battle. There are a few areas I want to improve in still but so far so good. The biggest thing is to keep the tyre temperature up. Normally in these conditions the SC0 would never last but the new bigger profile tyre is lasting just unbelievably.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was seventh overall today and top independent rider of all. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) placed his Ninja ZX-10RR 12th, but was still only 0.821 seconds from the fastest time. Replacing the injured Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) at this race was experienced MotoGP rider Hector Barbera, who was 16th in his first ever WorldSBK track sessions.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 9, Wins 0, Podiums 9, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 71 (56 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 143 (101 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 17 (13 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 9, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 127 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 391 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 82 – second overall