After joining the series at the previous round at Imola Italy three weeks ago, McCormick was facing one of the most famous road courses in the world at Assen for the first time.
“It’s a really great track, you can see why everyone talks about it,” confirmed McCormick, who watched video from previous races to prepare for his first time on-track in the Netherlands. “This place has a really good flow, there are some sections that are a little tougher than you think, and I’m starting to get a feel for it. Some of the turns have a lot of camber, and the banking is fun, although it takes longer establish your entry speeds.” McCormick also explained that some of the track’s flowing sections reminded him of tracks in Canada.
With almost all the other competitors having raced at Assen before, McCormick knew that his first time out would be daunting, and a delay to return from trackside after running out of fuel had him sprinting down the pit lane mid-session, chasing his Ducati.
“When I realized I was out of fuel, I was trying to figure out where to pull off the track, find the best place to get picked up and get a ride in,” explained McCormick. “We were a little surprised by the fuel mileage, that is something they have good data for with the other riders from previous races, but it’s good to work out these things early in the weekend.”
McCormick was 23rd fastest overall, the last rider listed on the time sheets. McCormick turned a best tour at 1:40.6, and that compared favorably with the quickest overall effort of 1:37.58 set by the works BMW Motorrad Motorsport entry of Marco Melandri.
In a very competitive field, McCormick was less than three seconds away from top position in his debut outing. Clearly, World Superbike rookie McCormick is already building on his encouraging event at Imola, and had much to discuss with his technicians in terms of set-up, a sign of his improved confidence with the powerful Ducati Superbike.
Fastest of the practice session was Marco Melandri, with a time of 1`:37.582. Second fastest in the opening practice belonged to reigning World Champ and series points leader Carlos Checa on the Althea Racing Ducati. Third belonged to the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja of Tom Sykes while the strong recent form of the BMW S1000 RR runners was confirmed by Michel Fabrizio’s fourth best run for the Italian GoldBet satellite squad. Johnny Rea’s Honda CBR1000RR netted fifth fastest time.
McCormick has also been pleased with his relative strong top speed numbers, given the fact that outright performance is not a strong suit of the flexible Ducati. McCormick went through Assen’s speed traps at 268.9 kph, while the top performance belonged to the sixth fastest factory four-cylinder BMW of Leon Haslam at 289.1 kph.