Easter weekend brings the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Assen, and 2006 is the inaugural season for Primo Racing as a permanent team in the series. Based out of Antwerp, Belgium, team riders Hans Westra, Patrick De La Ruelle...
Easter weekend brings the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Assen, and 2006 is the inaugural season for Primo Racing as a permanent team in the series. Based out of Antwerp, Belgium, team riders Hans Westra, Patrick De La Ruelle and Didier Heyndrickx will be competing in the full championship season aboard a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 motorcycle, which has been expertly prepared by the team with assistance from 15 volunteer crew members.
Competing for the first time at the newly revised TT Assen Circuit in The Netherlands, all concerned have been working hard to come to terms with the new circuit, become comfortable on a freshly built race bike and improve lap times.
Hans Westra -- Team Owner and Rider
The new circuit is a lot of fun, the first few turns just keep going and going until it turns hard back to the hard. This is not an easy section. The bike is good, but we shall see what the other's think and make adjustments to the suspension.
Patrick De La Ruelle -- Team Owner and Rider
This year's Suzuki is much faster than our bike from last year, and the handling is excellent. Right now we can only keep working for faster times.
Afternoon sun and warmer temperatures welcomed the team to the second practice with no changes made to the bike, although the team's third rider would now be able to take part in development of the brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000
Didier Heyndrickx -- Hans and Patrick did not have too many problems, but for me the bike was shaking on acceleration. Each time I was hard on the throttle there was a vibration in the bars. It was not a problem, but fixing it would help us go faster.
Patrick De La Ruelle -- On hard acceleration the bike is compressing the rear suspension because the spring is too soft. We have spoken to Ohlins here at the track and decided to install a stiffer spring.
Hans Westra -- It is only a five pounds difference in spring rate, but the stiffer setting should stop the front from rising and becoming light under acceleration.
Changing temperatures caught several teams off guard with riders from Yamaha PhaseOne and X-One Yamaha each taking falls on a quickly cooling track. Primo Racing's Didier Hendricks, however, was able to advance up the time charts with a stunning lap that catapulted the team into 9 th in the session.
Qualifying was split into three sessions with every rider on the team taking part in a 20 minute timed session, with the grid being determined by the team's single fastest lap. When all was said and done Primo Racing's Didier Heyndrickx had taken the team's nearly stock Suzuki GSX-R1000 to 15th on the grid with a lap at 1: 48.321.
Hans Westra -- For a small team like ours this is already a victory. We are a few seconds slower than the top teams but we never imagined ourselves as world champions. They have paid mechanics and hours a day to prepare their bikes, but we must go to work and spend time with our families. We have done so much to prepare for this race and we are very pleased with this starting position.
Didier Heyndrickx -- For the team I am very happy, they have worked so hard to prepare the bike for us and I was proud to have rewarded them for all their work. I wanted to run in the 1:46 range but with colder temperatures this was not possible.
With the Assen TT Circuit closed Sunday the team continued to prepare the motorcycle for Monday's race. Unlike PhaseOne's Yamaha team, complete disassembly of the race bike was out of the question for Primo Racing's crew. Great attention to detailed was paid to preparing the bike however, and many small changes were made to improve the bike for the riders. With the Le Mans 24 Hour Moto event only a week away it was also necessary for the team to prepare a second set of bodywork fitted with lighting.
Greg Sampson (High Velocity Journalism) is giving Motorsport.com readers and insight into the FIM World Endruance Championship as both a writer and a crew member (Primo Racing).