Hailing the entire event as a fantastic experience, she improved her lap times in each and every session throughout the weekend and enjoyed the race, finishing in 28th position of the 37 starters.
Excited from the moment she arrived at the iconic Dutch circuit, Sam cycled several laps in the rain during the Thursday evening to gain a little knowledge prior to the hectic first day on track which was to follow.
The timetable for this event meant that the Motostar competitors had three sessions on the first day, two free practices and the opening official timed qualifying session later in the afternoon.
Sam’s first laps on her WNT Burman Racing Moto3 machine were in wet conditions, less than ideal for learning a new circuit, but nevertheless she completed eight laps in the 20 minute session enabling her to begin to learn her lines. For the remainder of the weekend dry conditions prevailed allowing all the riders to settle in properly to the mainly fast and flowing circuit. Sam made good progress in free practice two, setting her fastest time of one minute 59.137 seconds despite struggling a little in the slow tight turns at Ossebroeken and Strubben.
During the opening qualifying session Sam shaved a further two and a half seconds from her fastest lap time but would be disappointed to be provisionally in 37th position on the grid.
Having made progress with the two tight corners, her focus now switched to the faster changes of direction at Ruskenhoek where she felt there was room for improvement. The sector analysis highlighted that she was concentrating in certain specific areas during different laps, meaning that if she could put these together in final qualifying her lap time would decrease further.
With just one session on Saturday, the all important final qualification, Sam was eager to take to the 2.82 mile circuit and completed 12 laps, improving her position by four places and setting a best lap time of one minute 54.456 seconds, over two seconds faster than her previous best time to earn her place on row eleven of the full grid of Moto3 and 125GP machines.
During morning warm-up on race day Sam continued to work on her two identified ‘problem’ areas and particularly took note of the Dutch rider’s lines and exit speed through the slower corners, proving their superior circuit knowledge. She shaved a further few tenths off her best time completing the short eight minute session in 28th position.
Sam is currently running in the top five of the Moto3 competitors which meant she was allocated a pit garage at Assen. The local Dutch fans were very enthusiastic and many visited her garage during the two scheduled ‘pitlane walkabout’ sessions.
Sam made a good start to the 12 lap race making up three positions on the opening lap. For much of the race she found herself riding within a group of several riders changing positions on a number of occasions. Sam set her fastest lap of the weekend at half race distance and riding in the group, a time of one minute 53.696 seconds. It had proven to be a very enjoyable race with a mixture of Dutch and English competitors and Sam hung on to the group all the way to the chequered flag taking 28th position overall and sixth position of the Moto3 British Championship competitors.
Joe Irving, winner of the Moto3 race, lapped one and a half seconds under the existing lap record set by Kyle Ryde in 2012 proving the pace was fast. Sam lapped seven seconds slower than the race winner, which is comparable to the gap at the previous round, Donington Park, a circuit Sam knows well, and similar to the gap experienced most weekends in the UK, which was gratifying since she was learning a new circuit.
“We had a fantastic time at Assen, it is an amazing circuit and the Dutch made us all feel very welcome. Having a pit garage for the first time made us feel special and everything about the place was positive. I was quite sceptical about having a round away from the UK last year, but I have been blown away by the whole event, and the opportunity to compete on such an iconic circuit. We made progress with our lap times in every session throughout the weekend and look forward to competing at Assen again next year.” Sam Burman By Martin Knighton