The long tradition of Dutch TT racing on Saturdays, which goes back as far as 1925, will end this weekend and as such it was a Friday that hosted the first free practice sessions today, with four factories finishing in the top four positions. Andrea Iannone clocked the fastest lap of Assen on his Ducati, with Valentino Rossi just 0.004 seconds adrift on his Yamaha. Honda’s Marc Márquez, Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales and Jorge Lorenzo, on the second factory Yamaha, complete a top five that lapped within four tenths of a second today. With rain forecast tomorrow, the big surprise of qualifying could prove to be Dani Pedrosa, who was eleventh fastest today and may have to contest Q1 if conditions are inclement for FP3 in the morning.
The top Aspar Team rider today was Eugene Laverty, a lap of 1’34.789 in the second session representing an improvement of over a second on the first session. The Irishman crashed shortly before the end of the day in turn five although he escaped unhurt, lamenting a loss of front-end feel as he looked to improve the turning potential of his Ducati. Yonny Hernández was eighteenth fastest but is confident of making improvements tomorrow after a mistake in the chicane on his final lap today cost him more than four tenths of a second. The Colombian has focused much of his work on race tyres as he aims for some important points here at Assen on Sunday.
15th Eugene Laverty 1.34.789 (35 laps): “We knew here that the biggest area for us to work on with the bike is turning and we made a good step today, although it meant that I lost some feeling with the front in corner entry and I confirmed that by crashing! Finding the right set-up is always about making compromises but ideally tomorrow I need to find some more front feel but keep a fast lap time.”
18th Yonny Hernández 1.35.125 (32 laps): “The feeling at the end of the day is good after two sessions working on the race tyre. At the end of the second session I made a little mistake in the chicane but my ideal lap time is a 1’34.7 so that is where we know we can be and we know that tomorrow we can improve. I will be aiming for a good position on the grid for a race where the objective is the points. Tomorrow we will decide which tyre to use – we have longer life with the hard option but we will look for the best option to finish the race.”