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Sep 21, 2012

Alex Lowes Quickest In British Superbike Practice At Assen

Alex Lowes.


Free practice one:
1:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 1m:38.651s
2:Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +0.482s
3:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.549s
4:Luca Scassa (Padgetts Honda) +0.627s
5:Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.904s
6:Noriyuki Haga (Swan Yamaha) +0.934s

Free practice two:
1:Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) 1:37.893s
2:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.282s
3:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.572s
4:Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +0.868s
5:Jakub Smrz (Splitlath Redmond Racing) +0.950s
6:Barry Burrell (Buildbase BMW) +1.071s


Alex Lowes was the last rider to qualify as a Title Fighter in the Showdown for the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship but today (Friday) the WFR Honda rider stormed the opposition in the opening two free practice sessions at the iconic Assen circuit.

Lowes had experienced riding the Dutch circuit last year in a two day test with the locally based Ten Kate Honda team and he made that count as held off the challenges from his Title Fighter rivals including the late determined threat posed by Aussie Josh Brookes aboard the Tyco Suzuki.

"I'm really enjoying riding here the track suits my style," reflected Lowes after topping the times with a lap of 1m 37.893secs. "We are getting consistent lap times even though this is a new track for the team and we have all had to work hard.

"There is no reason why we cannot continue like this we just have to stick in there. As for the Showdown and the title I'm not thinking about either of them yet. My focus is simply to go out there and do my best."

Brookes worked hard with his team to overcame a vibration problem with his bike, solving it in the closing stages of the session and had moved fastest before Lowes toppled him from the top.

Former two times title winner Shane "Shakey" Byrne returned as he braved the pain of an injured shoulder onboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki. He topped the opening session before setting the third fastest time ahead of title rival Michael Laverty aboard the Samsung Honda.

But the remaining two Title Fighters had a nightmare start to the opening sessions at Assen. Defending champion Tommy Hill escaped injury when he crashed his Swan Yamaha in the afternoon session which left him ninth fastest, though three places ahead of Supersonic Racing BMW's Tommy Bridewell.

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More, from a press release issued by Swan Yamaha:


The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Showdown got underway at the legendary Assen circuit today but it was a challenging start for both Tommy Hill and Noriyuki Haga this afternoon; however both riders are feeling positive ahead of qualifying.

Hill had set the fifth fastest time in the opening session and was building up his pace this afternoon as he bids to extend his ten point championship lead in the two races this weekend. The second free practice session started well for the defending champion but a crash in the final 15 minutes ended his final run on circuit, leaving him ninth fastest. Haga returned to the circuit where he has celebrated success in the World Championship by running sixth fastest this morning but this afternoon his progress was halted with a technical problem halfway through the session.

Hill said: "We headed out on used tyres just to get more feel on how the bike will be for race distance and to try and move forward with the overall package. It was a shame we didn't get a run at the end of the session on a new tyre because the crash ended our track time today; there is lots of time to be made around here with new grip. Overall though the package is feeling better and hopefully after our team meeting we can move forward again tomorrow for qualifying with my speed and setup."

Haga said: "I have a good feeling about being back here at Assen, because I know the circuit from World Superbike. This morning I felt happy and we had good grip but this afternoon we made some changes and it wasn't as good to push hard. We have a good plan for tomorrow to work to improve this as in the second session we lost time because we had a technical problem but we will be ready for qualifying."

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More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

Tyco Suzuki's Josh Brookes finished the opening day of the 2012 British Superbike Showdown at Assen in the Netherlands with the second fastest time on his GSX-R1000; the Australian holding provisional Pole Position before being edged out at the last minute.

Team-mate Alastair Seeley made a quantum leap with his lap times in the second session, shaving over two seconds from his FP1 time and pushing himself into the top 20 on his first visit to the TT Circuit.

In the British Supersport class, American PJ Jacobsen didn't take long to familiarise himself with the 2011 British Supersport Championship-winning GSX-R600, posting the fifth best time in FP2 and shaving three seconds from his opening session time.

Josh Brookes:

"The bike was sore on the tyre in the opening session and we were suffering from chatter, so we made a few changes that adjusted the feel but didn't cure the problem; then we made a further change mid-way through the session that did work for us. It also reduced the chatter and improved grip. I came in for a fresh tyre and went P1 but just dropped down to P2 at the end of the session, but we're ready to go again tomorrow.

Alastair Seeley:

"I'm still getting to grips with the circuit but the bike feels better with the changes we've made and I fully expect the times to get better as the weekend progresses. Changing my position on the bike has certainly improved my feeling, so with that, it will hopefully bring added confidence and get us back that little but closer to the sharp end."

PJ Jacobsen:

"Today went pretty well and I'm happy with the opening sessions. The GSX-R600 is giving me great feedback and works well round here, it was kind-of-a rush job getting up to speed with a new bike, but it's all positive. We've made decent progress and I'm confident we can do a good job tomorrow."

British Superbike - Free Practice 2:

1 Alex Lowes [Honda] 1:37.893
2 Josh Brookes [Tyco Suzuki] +0.282
3 Shane Byrne [Kawasaki] +0.572
4 Michael Laverty [Honda] +0.868
5 Jakub SMRZ [Aprilia] +0.950
6 Barry Burrell [BMW] +1.071
18 Alastair Seeley [Tyco Suzuki] +1:40.316 [+2.423]

British Supersport - Free Practice 2:

1 Jack Kennedy [Yamaha] 1:40.255
2 Raymond Schouten [Yamaha] +0.222
3 Glen Richards [Triumph] +0.250
4 Luke Mossey [Triumph] +0.333
5 PJ Jacobsen [Tyco Suzuki] +0.355