Half-a-second covers top ten on day one in Thailand

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) starred in Free Practice Three at the Chang International Circuit, where there was never much more than a tenth of a second separating the top five. Each of the best eight in the combined results set their fastest time in the third session, and rankings were therefore changeable throughout. But Rea continued a day of steady improvement, climbing from eleventh in FP1, to fourth in FP2 and finally to lead the list of automatic qualifiers to Saturday’s Tissot-Superpole session.

Jonathan Rea – P1

“It feels good and the times are so close. Today I just worked through some set-up changes, arriving step-by-step at a good pace. In the last session today, which was held at the same time of day as the races will be, we decided to do a race simulation. I was very constant, not really fast, but constant to the end. We need to find a little bit more I think, for tomorrow. I tried to ride the bike like I did last year but with the final gearing, gearbox and rpm for this season, it is a very different bike. This morning I had to readjust my riding style so in the last two sessions we made some inroads and I felt a lot better. I have the information from the race simulation now, and it is good information.”

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

Tom Sykes – P2

“We set a fast lap time and I am happy enough, even through the confusion of a cancelled lap. We had to use a new set of tyres after that, which was not in our plan of attack, but we still made a faster lap. But aside from that, the bike is really consistent and we have continued on from Phillip Island. We are definitely prepared for the first race tomorrow. The chassis is working well. I hope tomorrow we can find a little bit extra anyway. Even in the hot conditions this afternoon, in both afternoon sessions, I really had a good feeling and feedback from the bike, even when the tyre drops. I am feeling really confident and optimistic for tomorrow.”

Tom Sykes
Tom Sykes

Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was the biggest name not to improve in FP3 as, after heading the timesheets in FP2, he collided with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) in dramatic fashion. Both riders bit the asphalt but climbed back aboard their machines, Fores later confirmed fit to continue his weekend after suffering an abrasion to his toes. Both finished comfortably inside the top ten despite the incident: Fores, who finished FP1 on top, remained the lead independent rider as has become his custom in 2018, while Laverty dropped back to ninth.

Behind the lead British duo on the timesheets, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) finished third having, until the final batch of hot laps, sat first.

Aruba.it Racing – Ducati runners Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies made the biggest improvements in FP3. Australian double winner Melandri found almost a second to leap from tenth to fourth, and Davies showing no ill effects after his crash in FP2.

Marco Melandri – P4

“It was a good day. Luckily the temperatures were more mild than usual so it was actually nice to ride here and I had fun. My feeling with the bike is OK. We still need to put together a few pieces of the puzzle but I’m quite confident ahead of the race, though anything can happen with such narrow gaps in the time sheets. We worked methodically on race pace, but we were also able to set a competitive lap time on fresh tires, which means we have good balance overall.”

Marco Melandri
Marco Melandri

Chaz Davies – P5

“We improved steadily throughout the day despite a couple of issues in FP2 and FP3 that delayed our progress a little bit. The most important thing is that we’re not at all far from the top, and we can still improve, especially in terms of grip and stability under braking. At the moment it’s a work in progress and it’s hard to make predictions because we’re all very close, so tomorrow’s morning session will be important to verify a few things and tick the last boxes ahead of Race 1.”

Chaz Davies
Chaz Davies

Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was the top Honda runner throughout.

Leon Camier – P6

“It was a good start from the first session today, the lap time came quite easily from the beginning so I felt competitive on the bike right away. My pace was good throughout all the sessions, but there’s still a few things we want to try tomorrow as I need to improve my race pace a little bit to take the fight to the top guys. We took another step today so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Leon Camier
Leon Camier

Yamaha were also represented in the top ten through Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). The Dutchman finished the session just two thousandths of a second clear of crash duo Fores and Laverty, with his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also behind and occupying the last of the top ten positions.

Michael van der Mark – P7

“I’m really happy with today! We started quite solidly this morning but kept on improving bit by bit and it was pretty clear what I needed for the second session. We went out looking for rear grip but didn’t really find much, so we changed the bike a lot, then I found the grip and I was getting faster and faster. I was feeling quite good, I only felt that we need to make some small changes, so that’s what we did for the third session and I went out on used tyres and at the end of a longer run, I was still quite fast, which is a good sign for the race. I am happy to have put in a really fast lap at the end and we are looking forward to tomorrow! We have few things to tweak, but with the times so close, it should be a very exciting race.”

Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark

Behind the break-away group of eight, there was a close contest to hold on to a place in the top ten: four riders separated by one and a half tenths of a second. Despite setting more laps than anyone in the three sessions combined, Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) was unable to make the day’s top ten, the Frenchman twelfth but well clear of the pack of independent riders directly behind.

#THAIWorldSBK Friday Practice Times
  1. JONATHAN REA GBR KAWASAKI RACING TEAM KAWASAKI 1’33.327
  2. TOM SYKES GBR KAWASAKI RACING TEAM KAWASAKI +0.057
  3. JORDI TORRES SPA ALTHEA BMW RACING TEAM BMW +0.070
  4. MARCO MELANDRI ITA ARUBA.IT RACING DUCATI +0.097
  5. CHAZ DAVIES GBR ARUBA.IT RACING DUCATI +0.108
  6. LEON CAMIER GBR RED BULL HONDA WORLD SUPERBIKE TEAM HONDA +0.204
  7. MICHAEL VAN DER MARK NDL PATA YAMAHA YAMAHA +0.242
  8. XAVI FORES SPA BARNI RACING TEAM DUCATI +0.244
  9. EUGENE LAVERTY GBR MILWAUKEE APRILIA APRILIA +0.524
  10. ALEX LOWES GBR PATA YAMAHA YAMAHA +0.528
  11. LORENZO SAVADORI ITA MILWAUKEE APRILIA APRILIA +0.659
  12. LORIS BAZ FRA ALTHEA BMW RACING TEAM BMW +0.684
  13. LEANDRO MERCADO ARG IODARACING TEAM APRILIA +1.093
  14. JAKE GAGNE USA RED BULL HONDA WORLD SUPERBIKE TEAM HONDA +1.173
  15. ROMÁN RAMOS SPA TEAM GO ELEVEN KAWASAKI +1.218
  16. YONNY HERNANDEZ COL TEAM PEDERCINI KAWASAKI +1.341
  17. PJ JACOBSEN USA TRIPLE M HONDA WORLD SUPERBIKE TEAM HONDA +1.414
  18. TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU TUR GRILLINI RACING TEAM KAWASAKI +1.504
  19. ONDREJ JEZEK CZE GRILLINI RACING TEAM KAWASAKI +3.321

WorldSSP: Mahias takes to the top in Thailand
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)

A familiar pecking order emerged after Free Practice Two for the FIM Supersport World Championship in Thailand. The lead duo in the series after the Australian Round, Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), were comfortably fastest in FP1 but saw their advantage slashed in the second session.

Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)

Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) in particular made a significant gain during the day, closing over half a second on Mahias’ 1:37.469 time and to within three tenths of a second of top spot. But the Italian’s new fastest time only enabled him to remain in third position, just ahead of Jules Cluzel who completed a lead quartet of Yamaha runners.

The fastest Kawasaki man on day one was Anthony West ahead of Puccetti Kawasaki’s Okubo.

Thai Wild Card riders Thitipong Warokorn (CORE Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) and Ratthapong Wilairot (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) finished just over a tenth of a second from one another, disputing the last of the top ten positions.

Thitipong Warokorn (CORE Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team)
Thitipong Warokorn (CORE Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team)

In what was a close session throughout, Lucas Mahias was one of only two among the top ten riders who failed to improve his pace in FP2. The other was Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), who suffered a turn five crash less than ten minutes into the session and dropped from fifth to ninth overall.

The fastest seven ahead of him were eventually separated by less than half a second in the first two sessions combined, and with third place in particular having been closely contested right to the flag in Australia, indications are for a similarly close-fought race weekend in Thailand.

At Team GoEleven Kawasaki it is an all Australian affair this weekend with regular team rider Lachlan Epis joined by countryman Ted Collins, who was drafted in at the last minute to replace the injured Michael Canducci.  Epis ended the day 23rd on the timesheets while Collins finished 26th, 1.5-seconds behind his teammate but learning fast.

Ted Collins - World Supersport 2018 - Round Two - Thailand
Ted Collins – World Supersport 2018 – Round Two – Thailand

#THAIWorldSBK WorldSSP at Chang International Circuit: Friday

  1. L. MAHIAS FRA GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Yamaha YZF R6 1’37.469
  2. R. KRUMMENACHER SUI BARDAHL Evan Bros. Team Yamaha YZF R6 1’37.503
  3. F. CARICASULO ITA GRT Yamaha Official Yamaha YZF R6 1’37.692
  4. J. CLUZEL FRA NRT Yamaha YZF R6 1’37.786
  5. A. WEST AUS EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’37.838
  6. H. OKUBO JPN Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’37.922
  7. S. CORTESE GER Kallio Racing Yamaha YZF R6 1’37.940
  8. R. DE ROSA ITA MV Agusta Reparto Corse MV Agusta F3 675 1’38.112
  9. L. STAPLEFORD GBR Profile Racing Triumph Daytona 675 1’38.256
  10. T. WAROKORN THA CORE Kawasaki Thailand Team Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’38.438
  11. A. KAMARUZAMAN MAS Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’38.519
  12. R. WILAIROT THA Yamaha Thailand Racing Team Yamaha YZF R6 1’38.557
  13. N. TUULI FIN CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Honda CBR600RR 1’38.569
  14. K. SMITH GBR GEMAR Team Lorini Honda CBR600RR 1’38.589
  15. A. BADOVINI ITA MV Agusta Reparto Corse MV Agusta F3 675 1’38.661
  16. J. KENNEDY IRL Profile Racing Triumph Daytona 675 1’38.783
  17. T. GRADINGER AUT NRT Yamaha YZF R6 1’38.945
  18. M. DI MEGLIO FRA GMT94 Yamaha Yamaha YZF R6 1’39.146
  19. N. CALERO ESP Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.298
  20. L. CRESSON BEL Kallio Racing Yamaha YZF R6 1’39.302
  21. D. KRAISART THA Yamaha Thailand Racing Team Yamaha YZF R6 1’39.384
  22. J. VAN SIKKELERUS NED GEMAR Team Lorini Honda CBR600RR 1’39.684
  23. L. EPIS AUS Team GoEleven Kawasaki Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’39.851
  24. SOOMER EST Racedays Honda CBR600RR 1’40.182
  25. A. IRWIN GBR CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Honda CBR600RR 1’40.907
  26. T. COLLINS AUS Team GoEleven Kawasaki Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’41.365

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