ASSEN: MAX AT THE TOP OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
IN SPITE OF THE DIFFICULTIES MAX BIAGGI WILL GO TO MONZA AS LEADER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
FIRST PODIUM ASTRIDE APRILIA FOR EUGENE LAVERTY, THIRD AFTER A HEATED RACE 2.
Assen, 22 April 2012 – The Assen round Sunday will be long remembered for the continuous pendulum of emotions, both because of the uncertain weather and the great show on the track. The Aprilia Racing Team confirmed itself as a key player in spite of the difficulties Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty faced throughout the weekend. The Northern Irish rider's rostrum finish in Race 2 ended a day which returns the championship's first place position to Biaggi, even if only by one point.
The first thing to note about race one is that it was red flagged due to rain with nine laps to go. After returning to the pits to put on the softer tyres for the wet, the riders lined up for a new start in the driving rain. Max and Eugene immediately demonstrated excellent pace in truly difficult grip and visibility conditions. Biaggi and Laverty rode past the chequered flag respectively in fourth and fifth place.
Race 2, on the other hand, started with no rain and quickly drying asphalt, so much that almost all the riders chose full slicks directly from the starting grid. Max, starting from the fifth row, was able to earn twelfth place within the first three laps, taking advantage of some mistakes made by the forerunners to end the race in eighth place. Eugene's race was a battle of the top 5 with overtaking and fast laps galore. The rider from Northern Ireland skilfully managed a difficult race and flew to his first podium (third place) under the Aprilia Racing colours.
Checa's seventeenth place in Race 2 returned the championship lead spot to Max Biaggi, albeit only one point in front of the Spaniard. The Aprilia Racing Team is also at the top of the team standings.
“Despite our provisional leadership we can't really be euphoric – confesses Max – I struggled throughout the whole weekend and the two races were difficult as well. When you're aiming for the world championship you have to set your sights on the biggest prize. Placings are important but the can't become a constant. In any case, we are leaving Holland with some heavy spoils in points, and considering the difficulties we had this weekend we can't complain. However, working to solve the problems that slowed us down is of utmost importance in order to come back and fight in the positions that count from here on out”.
Eugene Laverty is satisfied with his performance: “We worked really hard this weekend and after a difficult start I knew I could fight for the podium. The two races were difficult, especially the restart in Race 1 in the driving rain and truly precarious grip conditions, but in the end we're leaving Assen with more certainty and my first podium for Aprilia. In Race 2 I had fun. I battled from the first to the last lap for third place. Now we'll need to be good enough to continue on this path, earning important points for morale and the championship standings”.
ASSEN CONFIRMS ITSELF AS A DIFFICULT TRACK FOR THE APRILIA RACING TEAM.
WITH ONE LAST QUALIFYING SESSION IN THE WET, MAX BIAGGI IS UNABLE TO IMPROVE ON HIS TIME FROM FRIDAY AND WILL START FROM THE FIFTH ROW.
EUGENE LAVERTY DOESN'T GO THROUGH TO THE SECOND SUPERPOLE SESSION DUE TO A CRASH IN THE FIRST, FOURTEENTH PLACE FOR HIM.
Assen, 21 April 2012 – The forecast turned out to be accurate: Friday at Assen was also marked by weather which was, to say the least, unpredictable. The last qualifying session this morning was run in the wet, which prevented any improvements to yesterday's times. Max Biaggi will start from the fifth row in the seventeenth spot on the grid for the two races tomorrow.
During the subsequent practice sessions, the mechanics worked on adapting to the changing conditions on the track which was drying off. This situation was not very useful for Max, with a deficit of time and feeling on the track and who would have benefited from some "stable" practice in order to make a concrete improvement. In any case the Corsair worked hard, clawing his way to eleventh place, just outside of the top ten.
Tomorrow will certainly not be an easy Sunday for Max: “After a dismal Friday, practice today unfortunately did not allow us to work the way we had hoped. We were definitely able to improve in spite of the fact that conditions were constantly changing. The thing that will make tomorrow's races an uphill battle is the starting position. It will be of utmost importance to start strong and not to lose any time in the first phases of the race, trying to stay with the front group in order to mount a comeback. There are a lot of riders here that have a better pace than ours. We'll try to sort things out as best as possible in the warm-up tomorrow morning”.
Eugene Laverty's day ended after the first Superpole session while the Northern Irish rider was pushing for a spot in the top eight. As Eugene was pushing hard on slicks, a sudden rain shower sent him into a slide and a premature return to the garage. This means that Laverty will have to start from the fourteenth spot on the grid, counting on the good pace he demonstrated during the practice sessions in order to make his comeback.
“Superpole was definitely not the best part of our weekend. After starting with the intermediate tyres, I put the slicks on since the track was drying off. I knew I'd have to push to the limit in order to get into the top eight before weather conditions changed, but I pushed a bit too hard and crashed. Although starting fourteenth isn't ideal, I know I've been working well with the set up on my RSV4 and I hope I can take advantage of that in the two races tomorrow”.
DIFFICULT START AT ASSEN FOR THE APRILIA RACING TEAM
MAX BIAGGI ENDS THE DAY IN SEVENTEENTH PLACE, SLOWED BY PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST SESSION.
EUGENE LAVERTY MANAGES TO FIND A GOOD PACE STRAIGHT AWAY DESPITE THE FLUCTUATING WEATHER CONDITIONS.
Assen, 20 April 2012 – Weather conditions conditioned the first day of practice sessions for the Assen Superbike round. After the morning session on a dry track, but in very low temperatures, the afternoon qualifiers were held for the most part in the rain, without giving the riders a chance to improve. Like what happened with Max Biaggi, hampered this morning by a few unexpected problems and forced to come in after just a few laps due to the foul weather.
The seventeenth final time complicates life a bit for the Aprilia Racing Team and for Max, especially since it could keep him out of Superpole if the track is wet tomorrow. The five time world champion makes no secret of his disappointment, but at the same time he is confident that he can sort out a weekend that started off in the worst possible way.
“We didn't start off well. This morning we had some problems with the bike that caused us to lose precious time. In the afternoon we started after making some significant changes, but after a few minutes it began to rain and I was forced to come in. When you make such drastic changes you have to re-familiarise yourself with the bike and unfortunately I wasn't able to build my confidence in the only fast lap I had, so we ended in seventeenth place. At the moment we are out of Superpole and that really disappoints me. We'll see what tomorrow's sessions bring”.
Eugene Laverty found a good feeling with his RSV4 and the Assen track quickly, putting a seventh place time on the boards in the first session. He maintained the good feeling even on the wet track, a condition that Eugene had the chance to tackle in the afternoon qualifiers. So the foundation has been laid and all that's left now is to see what the weather brings tomorrow and to choose which path to follow in view of the races.
“The important thing today was to get into the top sixteen in order to secure a spot in Superpole in case it rains tomorrow. The feeling with the bike on dry track is promising, but I was also able to get around the track on the wet without any particular problems. No matter what the conditions are tomorrow, I'm confident I can do well. Depending on the weather, we'll decide which set up to work on in view of the races, where our goal is still to get on the podium”.
THE FACTORY DERIVATIVES MAKE A STOP AT ONE OF THE HISTORIC TRACKS IN MOTORCYCLE RACING.
AFTER A GOOD START TO THE SEASON, MAX BIAGGI SEEKS CONFIRMATION AT ASSEN.
EUGENE LAVERTY FOCUSES ON DEMONSTRATING HIS POTENTIAL ASTRIDE THE RSV4.
The 2012 World Superbike season started off on a positive note for the Aprilia Racing Team, with Max Biaggi as a key player in Australia and tenacious in the Imola races. Assen, the third round on the schedule, is an opportunity for the five time world champion and his RSV4 to confirm their competitiveness, arriving in Holland with every intention of taking a lot of points home. In fact, the tight competition in the first races foreshadows a truly difficult climb to the peak of World SBK: each and every result can make the difference at the end of the year.
The particular setting of the Dutch event, which has one of the biggest followings, enhances the performance of the riders, immersed in the biking enthusiasm of the thousands of fans, and contributes to the excitement of the Assen races. The technical aspects of the circuit, although modified compared to past rounds, have earned it the title "University of Motorcycling" and this is indicative of just how important this round is.
“Racing at Assen is always special – confirms Max Biaggi – and that is why the races here are always memorable. It would seem that the weather wants to rain on our parade, but we'll wait for Sunday and keep our fingers crossed. After an excellent start in Australia we struggled a bit at Imola, in any case managing not to lose sight of the frontrunners. This weekend we will need to solidify our lead, without losing focus even for one minute: from what we've seen so far, there is no margin for even the smallest error. The track is demanding but I like it. It's technical and flows well, and demonstrating competitiveness here would be excellent confirmation for the rest of the season”.
For Eugene Laverty the Assen round will be an opportunity to show his potential, after “getting to know” his new RSV4 during this first part of the championship. The rider from Northern Ireland knows that he needs to aim for the podium, and he is confident that the Assen track caters very well to his riding style. His return to fitness and the information collected during the Imola tests increase Eugene's confidence.
“I'm back to 100% fitness and ready to fight at the front again. The beginning of the season has been tough but it's now time to step up and finish consistently on the podium. We made a big step with our chassis setting at the Imola test following the race weekend which allowed me to feel more confident on the bike. I've only ridden the Aprilia at three different circuits and so it's taken until now to fully understand the machine. I enjoy the flowing nature of the Assen circuit which really suits my style. My aim for the weekend is to join the lead group and show my true potential onboard the RSV4”.