Melandri and Rinaldi took top marks on Friday, while Davies struggled with acceleration on the Panigale
Mixed reactions at the Aruba.it Racing team, despite both main riders and junior rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) making directly through to tomorrow’s Tissot Superpole 2. While Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Rinaldi were only beaten by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in the final Free Practice, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) struggled throughout the latter two sessions and could only finish the day eighth.
Melandri suffered from stability issues all throughout the Aragon Round, and judging from his post-practice comments, these issues haven’t yet fully been resolved, despite his second place at the end of the day. “We’ve been working hard, mainly for the same problem, bike stability. As always, on Friday it looks not so bad, then I try to do like ten consecutive laps, and lap by lap the situation is going to be more difficult”, opens up the Italian. He’s positive, however: “we will try to take one small step to have a better feel tomorrow, and to be a bit stronger at the end of the day”.
With the sun shining over Assen, many of the riders are pleased at the dry weather, not always a certainty at Assen: “It’s the first time I’ve seen good weather in Holland, it’s good. I think it’s much better than before, because you don’t have to think too much about warming the tyre. To manage the tyre, I think it’s even better than before, normally the Pirellis are working very well with the warm. I think it will be better for everyone”, says Melandri.
Fellow Italian Rinaldi came in just behind, with the third fastest lap of the day. Rinaldi was the first rider to push Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) off the top spot since FP1, and will be proud with only his second full practice day on a WorldSBK bike.
Rinaldi suffered from pushing too hard at Aragon, but plans on not making the same mistake at Assen: “We tried our pace today, so we didn’t push very hard in the second practice, but the plan for FP3 was to push hard with the better setup. We did it and I’m very happy, now we are improving and everything is going well. We’ll try tomorrow to stay in the same position, but there are a lot of riders in tenths of a second. We are looking to improve, but it will be difficult”.
On the other hand, Davies was less than satisfied with his and his bike’s performance throughout Friday. However, the Welshman, currently second in the championship standings, seems to have the issues partly figured out: “I missed a little bit of turning and a little bit of edge grip. Just that last bit where I’m trying to pull it down to the apex and touch the throttle, I’m missing a little bit there. Not only that, but it’s sort of affecting my acceleration in a lot of places. We need to look at why that is, see if we can get a bit more grip tomorrow”.
How will the Ducatis fare at Assen? Find out tomorrow and Sunday, with highlights, reactions and the full races, thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.