Alex Lowes scored an important psychological blow over his MCE Insurance British Superbike title rival Shane “Shakey” Byrne by outpacing the defending champion to take pole position for the opening Showdown race at Assen.
Samsung Honda’s Lowes had been consistently fast across every session and the title protagonist repeated his pole start of last season at a pace that surprised his rivals as he clocked a best time of 1m 36.621secs around the Dutch circuit.
Lowes said: “It went pretty good for me and feels good. The bike works well here and now it is down to me to put two good races together. I am feeling pretty confident and will give 100% and go for it.”
He goes into these race determined to close down the six points deficit he has on Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne who closed within 0.371secs of him to be on the front row of the grid though the rider who is bidding to take the British crown for a record fourth time admitted he was stunned by his rivals pace.
“I saw my time was in the 1m 36secs and then saw he had gone even faster and I thought how did he do that,” said Byrne. “I’m happy enough with my race pace and it looks all set for a big battle between us. He is my target and I guess that I am his.”
Tommy Bridewell, who joined the Milwaukee Yamaha team mid-week, completes the front row of the grid, just ahead of his Title Fighter team-mate James Ellison who struggled with a down on power engine. Jakub Smrz on the Padgetts Honda and Aussie Title Fighter Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki are also on the second row.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, like Byrne bidding for a record fourth British title, set seventh fastest time on his Samsung Honda to start from the third row alongside the sixth of the Title Fighters James Westmoreland riding the Buildbase BMW.
Datatag Extreme qualifying:
1: Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 1m:36.261s
2: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.377s
3: Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.496s
4: James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.959s
5: Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda) +1.075s
6: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +1.462s