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Weather Lottery Leads to Untapped Potential for Pata Yamaha at Assen

Pata Yamaha_041616

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK riders Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli were left rueing the changeable conditions at the Assen TT Circuit today after Friday’s heavy rain and this morning’s wet track made way for dry and therefore unknown conditions in race one. Lowes concluded the opening battle in eighth position but his teammate suffered an unfortunate crash, falling at turn three on the fifth lap.

An accident in qualifying had left Lowes determined for a good start from 12th position as the lights went out for Saturday’s race. Immediately picking his way through the pack, the British rider advanced his YZF-R1 to seventh by the second lap and took a further two positions by the race’s half-distance. The last third of the contest saw Lowes’ pace slow as he battled the circuit’s low-grip and tricky conditions, choosing to secure a points-scoring-finish rather than chance another fall by pushing beyond the limits. Eight championship points promotes Lowes to 11th in the rider standings and hungry for more in tomorrow’s second 21-lap battle.

Guintoli started the day in fine form, making the most of the ‘green’ circuit during the Superpole session by securing second position and a front row start with his 1.36.073 lap time, despite his YZF-R1 never having turned a wheel on the Dutch surface in the dry until the session began. Looking to capitalise on his continuing run of strong qualifying performances, the Frenchman began the weekend’s first race firmly in the front group, running fourth for the initial laps. The difficult combination of strong winds and low-grip surface, however, caught the Yamaha rider out and his race ended prematurely. Guintoli returns to the Assen TT Circuit tomorrow for the weekend’s second race at 13:00 local time.

Alex Lowes
Race: 8th / +29.893 / 21 laps. Championship: 11th / 35 points

“We were on the back foot today as we have no data to work from here at Assen in the dry, having only had wet practice for most of the weekend. Obviously the Yamaha YZF-R1 has raced here in the past, but not in WorldSBK-spec and with these electronics, so to start the race with just two laps worth of data was always a bit of a risk. I felt good at the start and made really good progress in the early laps but then I started to really struggle with front grip. I really hope we can make a good step for tomorrow because honestly I’m disappointed with the result as we have been strong all weekend despite the difficult conditions.”

Sylvain Guintoli
Race: DNF. Championship: 8th / 53 points

“I’m obviously disappointed with the results from the first race, I was pushing really hard to be with the front group – and actually on my last lap we were catching Jonathan and Tom. The wind was really strong, especially in turn three and it was picking the bike up, I went in a little bit faster than I had on the previous lap and lost the front very, very early. I was trying and it didn’t happen this time but we will keep pushing and keep trying because we want to be in the front group. We have qualified well and we want to run in the front to learn as much as possible to aid the progression. Unfortunately these things happen in racing so we will just try again tomorrow.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“A great qualifying lap from Sylvain today but unfortunately his crash in the early stages of the first race leaves us questioning whether we could have made the progress we require over race distance compared to Aragón or not. He is fine, so let’s try again tomorrow!

“Alex made a great start from 12th on the grid after his qualifying accident and did a great job to get up to the top-six group so quickly, but after just a few laps he began to suffer from a lack of confidence in front grip and the overall stability of the machine – and took the choice to bring it home at a steady pace that allowed him to finish.

“We are suffering from a lack of experience and a lack of data at each new track that we go to, and obviously the weather yesterday meant that qualifying was our first dry running. Today’s result means that we have to make some changes for tomorrow’s race, assuming it’s dry, and do our best to take a step forward.”