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Biggest British contingent in six years

British fans are destined to have something to celebrate when the World Superbike races at Assen get underway this weekend, as the six-strong contingent signals the nation's biggest single race entry for six years.

The combination of Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea, Shane Byrne, Tommy Hill and debutant Stuart Easton ensures that more than five British riders are set to start a WSBK event for the first time in 126 races – since the Brands Hatch round of 2003.

Even so, the first day of action around the Dutch circuit didn't go entirely to plan for the sextet, with Rea and Haslam, Britain's leading representative overall, the only riders to squeeze inside the top ten for provisional qualifying.

Rea was quickest in eighth position, although the Northern Irishman was pleased with his performance on the revised Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR following a tough start to the year.

“I have to say that it's been a really positive day. The guys have worked so hard since Valencia and we arrived here with the main issue fixed, so I really have to thank the team for putting in such an effort.

“There are a couple of smaller problems that have now been uncovered, but I'm confident that we will be able to iron those out tomorrow. I was able to put some consistently good laps together towards the end of the session, when I did my quickest lap, so I'm happy. The CBR is really fun to ride again!”

Outside the top ten, Byrne followed in 13th as he makes his first return to Assen in four years, during which time the circuit has changed.

"The track has changed a lot since I last time raced here in 2004 and 2005. I had some difficulties with the fast changes of direction where the bike seemed a bit rigid. We'll definitely work on that with the team so that we can improve its behaviour on track and prepare ourselves for Sunday's two races and tomorrow's Superpole during which we must get a good starting position.”

Sykes, meanwhile, was 15th quickest after seeing his progress hampered by an accident in the closing stages of provisional qualifying.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Easton, Dutch WSBK 2009
Hill, Dutch WSBK 2009
Sykes, Dutch WSBK 2009
Byrne, Dutch WSBK 2009
Haslam, Dutch WSBK 2009
Rea, Dutch WSBK 2009
VD Mark, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
VD Mark, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
VD Mark, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Torres, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Torres, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Torres, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sykes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016

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