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Provisional Pole for Lowes at Rain-Hit Assen TT Circuit

Pata Yamaha_041516
Successfully navigating his first ever wet WorldSBK session aboard the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK YZF-R1, Alex Lowes claimed the fastest time of the day – a 1’52.701 – to hold provisional pole position at the rain-soaked Assen TT Circuit in The Netherlands today. Sylvain Guintoli was equally impressive on his Yamaha debut in damp conditions, securing third with his final lap.

Rain fell for the majority of the opening day as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returned to the Cathedral of Speed, with strong winds and cold temperatures making for tricky conditions around the high-speed 4,542m circuit. Looking strong from the outset, Lowes concluded the morning’s practice in fourth position. Feeling confident with his YZF-R1 and determined to continue the settings work started earlier, Lowes returned to the Assen circuit for the second session, immediately matching both his and the day’s highest speed of 271.3 km/h on his third revolution. The times improved as the rain abated slightly, with Lowes timing his final run to perfection to secure his provisional pole just as the heavy rain returned.

Guintoli looked just as comfortable on his YZF-R1 in the wet as he completed the morning practice in third and ahead of his teammate – both Pata Yamaha riders having frequently swapped places as they remained within the top five throughout the two, hour-long sessions. Returning to the pits to make a settings change, Guintoli was unable to capitalise on the adjustment – getting caught out by the weather in the closing stages – but as the afternoon concluded the Frenchman retained his podium-worthy position, having set a 1’53.846 on his 14th lap.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team returns to the Dutch circuit at 08:45 local time tomorrow morning for the final free practice ahead of Superpole qualifying at 10:55 and the first race of the weekend at 13:00.

Alex Lowes
1st / 1’52.701 / 27 laps

“The first time I have ridden the YZF-R1 in the rain was the first session today, and it felt quite good! Straight from the start I had quite a good feeling from the bike and then we made two or three changes to the rear of the bike which improved this further. Obviously it’s always a difficult one in the rain as there are never two sessions that are exactly the same conditions, as there is always a little bit more or less water on the track. We will see what happens tomorrow, in an ideal world it will be dry as it’s alright to be fast in the rain, but we want to be fast when it’s dry! We’ll wait and see but I’m happy with how it went overall, I felt good, the bike’s nice to ride around here and the lads did a good job. We still have a few things to work on if it is wet – traction control and a few little bits – but we’ll see what happens tomorrow!”

Sylvain Guintoli
3rd / 1’53.846 / 31 laps

“It’s been a good first day for us at Assen, discovering the YZF-R1 in the wet! It was tricky conditions because the grip is normally quite low here, but we found a good feeling confirming that the chassis is giving us a lot of mechanical grip and we have managed to improve the electronics setting from this morning to this afternoon. There is still a lot of work to do but overall a really good day for me and for Yamaha.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“Not the most pleasant day at Assen with bitterly cold winds and wet weather but the conditions are the same for everybody in the WorldSBK field and I’m very proud of the team and riders for performing so well and making no mistakes today. What makes the pace more encouraging is the fact this is the first time we’ve used the YZF-R1 in the wet conditions and the tractability of the engine and the natural grip that the Yamaha chassis produces have been highlighted by such tricky conditions.

“Alex’s P1 lap was especially impressive as he exited with new tyres just as the really heavy rain started and improved his time by nearly two seconds, despite the track deteriorating. Sylvain’s crew were implementing a setting change at that point so he wasn’t ready to go out, and got caught out as the rain became torrential so there was no reason to risk anything further. A solid day with great concentration and consistency shown by both riders – in addition to the bravery required to run through the Assen corners at that speed with such low grip from the track – so we’ll take the positives from today and see what the rest of the weekend brings.”