Salom repeats top spot in Assen


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider fastest on opening day for third successive Grand Prix. Arthur Sissis places ninth and Zulfahmi Khairuddin twenty-ninth.
The Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing today opened its doors to host the seventh Grand Prix of the year. The forecast showers held off until the last seven minutes of the second free practice session, and that allowed the Red Bull KTM Ajo team to enjoy a satisfying day’s work. Luis Salom, with a time of 1:43.511, rode the best lap of the day, setting a new lap record. Arthur Sissis —ninth— was back amongst the top ten, while in 29th was Zulfahmi Khairuddin.

It was a good start to the Grand Prix weekend for Red Bull KTM Ajo. The first practice session of the weekend was not the wet ride threatened by the weather forecasts, although a track temperature of 17ºC was slightly chilly for the riders. Luis Salom and Arthur Sissis quickly got into the top ten on the timesheets. The Spanish rider led the first session for much of the duration, in the end taking the second best time of 1:44.658 and one of only two riders to go round in under 1:45. Arthur Sissis was fourteenth and Zulfahmi Khairuddin seventeenth.

The first drops of rain fell on the historic Assen track six minutes into the second session. This did not prevent riders from continuing with slick tyres. Luis Salom, after being the fastest in free practice at Mugello and Catalunya, repeated the feat at Assen. On his thirteenth lap, he clocked a 1:43.511 time —over half a second faster than the rider in second place. Meanwhile, Arthur Sissis completed a good first day with the ninth best time in the session —1:45.027. These last 40 minutes served for Zulfahmi Khairuddin to identify which aspects of the setup can be changed for tomorrow, after he recorded a time of —1:46.458.

In the qualifying session for the TT Assen tomorrow, the starting grid for the seventh race of the season will be decided.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:43.511
2. Maverick Viñales (KTM)   1:44.038  +0.527
3. Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM)   1:44.162  +0.651
4. Alex Rins (KTM)    1:44.210   +0.699
5. Alex Marquez (KTM)    1:44.372  +0.861
9. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo)   1:45.027  +1.516
29. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo)   1:46.256 +2.745

Luis Salom >> Audio
“The first day of practice went well. I rode alone to try to work on our own, and we are going well. After the test we did in Mugello, we have improved the feeling with the bike and found a good configuration with which to make improvements every day. Today we continued taking steps forward, so I’m very happy. The time we set in the afternoon is a good sign. In fact, I think we have improved the time from last year to 1:43.5 from 1:43.6. We’ll see how it goes this weekend with the weather, but now it’s raining and we do not know how the track will be on Saturday.”

Arthur Sissis >> Audio
“The practice sessions today were not bad. In fact, it has been a much better start compared with the first day of the last Grand Prix. In the morning we went pretty well, but the rear tyre was very worn by the last stint, so I could not improve too much on my time. In the afternoon I improved on the first lap, before it started to rain. With the rain the conditions were not the best and on the last run I put myself behind Luis [Salom]. Riding behind him has helped me to see what lines he takes on some corners. Overall it has been a good first day of practice.”

Zulfahmi Khairuddin >> Audio (English) // Audio (Malaysian)
“Today was not a good first day of practice, but the important thing is that I know where I’m going slower and where my mistakes are, so for tomorrow I think things will be solved. At the moment I have not felt entirely comfortable here. In Barcelona we had a good weekend and here I have not had the same feeling. It’s normal that at every circuit you have to try different settings. Tomorrow we will continue to work and will make some changes to the bike. With a little luck the weather will improve and we will take a step forward.”

*Audio solely for radio use