In just three complete “hot” laps, McCormick managed to take over .7 of a second from his best previous time, establishing a solid mid-field qualifying position.
“I knew the rain was coming soon, so it was important to be ready, to get going right away,” explained McCormick of his strong showing. “I got out there as soon as things opened up, got my head down, nothing super crazy but we got a good lap before the conditions were an issue – I had one little off- throttle slide on my in lap, but it wasn’t too hairy.”
With his team concerned that track conditions might not be as good for second qualifying tomorrow morning, McCormick’s effort means he could make it into Saturday afternoon’s SuperPole final Qualifying in just his second-ever career Superbike race. The internationally televised SuperPole three-part knock-down session includes the top 16 Superbike competitors. Such an opportunity would be indicative of McCormick’s improving ability at the top level of World Championship motorcycle roadracing.
In the morning session, 20 year old McCormick learned the track and his team determined that some chassis changes would benefit his afternoon pace. The fact that McCormick was only three seconds from the quickest morning time, and that he was ready to tweak his bike’s set-up, indicates his ever-increasing confidence as he becomes accustom to the vee-twin Desmo 1098R as well as his experienced pit crew.
After a hectic few minutes at the start of first qualifying that resembled the opening laps of an Amateur race, the track was empty while teams waited to see if the rain would stick around. Once the track was fully wet, about half the field went out to try the conditions on the series’ Pirelli rain tires, including Italian-based, Saskatchewan born McCormick.
“It was good to get out in the wet, see the track in those conditions,” continued McCormick. “This track is so nice in the rain, the quality of the pavement, the camber, it’s really consistent. I haven’t been able to ride in those conditions at home, and obviously if it keeps raining, it’s good to build some experience with the traction offered at Assen. I took it pretty easy, feeling things out, and I was happy with both parts of that session.”
Among the riders not currently qualified for tomorrow afternoon’s SuperPole is former Champ Max Biaggi, who now sits 17th in the running order with the works Aprilia RSV4 Factory model.
One of McCormick’s three Effenbert Liberty squad team-mates, popular French veteran Sylvain Guintoli, was quickest in the important dry portion, turning a lap at 1:37.6 on his Ducati. Early season pace setter Tom Sykes was next aboard the works Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, with a lap of 1:37.63. A big surprise was the improved form of Crescent Fixi Suzuki GSX-R750 mounted Leon Camier in third at 1:38.4, followed by series point’s leader Carlos Checa in fourth at 1:38.6 on the Althea Ducati.