Ducati’s day of two halves: are they in contention at Assen?

Friday, 23 July 2021 15:05 GMT

A ‘quite happy’ Scott Redding and ‘quite confident’ Michael Ruben Rinaldi discuss Ducati’s prospects at Assen after a mixed day of results in the Netherlands

The Prosecco DOC Dutch Round could not have started much better for Ducati at the TT Circuit Assen as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returned to the Netherlands for the first time since 2019. Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) topped the timesheets with three Ducatis in the top four in Free Practice 1, but you would have to look further down the timesheets to find the Ducati runners in Free Practice 2.

Redding posted a time of 1’34.591s to top the timesheets after the opening 45-minute practice session on Friday morning, with Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) in third place and Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) in fourth; a strong start for the Bologna-based manufacturer with only Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) stopping them from looking out the top three places.

After Free Practice 2, in the combined classification, all three riders were in the top ten of the standings but in third with Redding, tenth with Davies and eighth for Rinaldi. In the second practice session, Redding was still the lead Ducati rider after claiming seventh place, one place ahead of teammate Rinaldi. Davies finished in 14th place, just ahead of fellow Ducati runners Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team).

Redding explained the differences in times throughout the day at Assen, with the British rider working mostly on tyres throughout the afternoon. He said: “I felt pretty good straight out the box here at Assen, a track I do enjoy. I felt a lot better with the bike here than I did at Donington, so it was a bit easier for me. In the afternoon I was just trying tyres and stuff. My goal wasn’t really to do an outright lap time, I was trying to figure out what was good for the rest of the weekend in case rain is coming. Quite happy and it’s just a little bit easier than Donington.”

Italian rider Rinaldi, who moved to the factory Ducati team for the 2021 campaign, followed a similar programme as he looked to find the best possible setup on his Ducati Panigale V4 R ahead of this weekend’s three races, although Rinaldi had the opposite start to the day compared to Redding as he had “no feeling” with the bike.

Rinaldi said: “Today was a difficult day in the beginning because I was able to finish fourth, but with no feeling with the bike. In the afternoon, we changed many things and they work but we put our focus on the race pace which is not so bad but when the tyres drop a little bit, we are not able to be so fast. We are in eighth position, but everybody is so close, and we didn’t focus on the lap time. I think that to achieve a great position, you need to work for the race because everybody is there, and the tyres make the difference. Quite confident to make another step forward tomorrow.”

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