Jonathan Rea was the first man to dip into the 1m30s today and he did that quite early on in the second two-hour session for World Superbike at Phillip Island this afternoon.
A 1m30.889 to the KRT #65 before going down, and then joining him on the deck was defending World Champion Alvaro Bautista! Actually that happened the other way around. Bautista went down after going off-line a little to get around Van der Mark only to lose the front when he tipped into turn four, while Rea lost the front the following lap to join Bautista in the kitty litter at the same turn.
That pair were 1-2 for almost the entire session and with an hour of track time still remaining the circuit was quiet due to no riders on track. It wasn’t really until the last half hour when things got busy again. Truth be told, it wasn’t exactly an exciting day at the track…
Yet another red flag for geese then interrupted proceedings with eight-minutes left in the session, presumably ruining some late time attacks by many riders. Most held on though and then went out for one last crack with less than four-minutes left on the clock…
After being off the pace all day Toprak Razgatlioglu was the first to post a dramatic improvement. A 1m30.674 to the Turk on his final lap saw him go top. Michael Rinaldi then just missed out on besting him, a 1m30.773 to the Italian putting him P2.
Bautista then went quickest through the first split… But only just, 0.006 under through the first sector, but then lost almost two-tenths in the second sector and that was his dash done… P3 for the defending World Champion.
Thus at the end of day one we have a Turk leading from an Italian, followed by a Spaniard and a Northern Irishman. Wonder if they will walk into a bar together this evening…
It took Scott Redding quite some time to get up to speed on the BMW here today. He was languishing near the back of the field for much of the day before managing to muster some reasonable pace towards the end of the session. There might be some good reasons for that but we can’t enlighten you as to those as of yet as we didn’t manage to have a chat with him at the end of the day.
In fact of all the BMW runners were a bit off the pace, Gerloff the quickest M 1000 RR here this afternoon and while P8 doesn’t sound too bad, he was a second behind Rea and Bautista. Gerloff was the fastest bike through the speed trap at 319.5 km/h.
Remy Gardner posted a 1m31.697 in the morning session and improved only slightly to 1m31.600 late this afternoon, presumably working through a test schedule and exploring the set-up options on the World Superbike. He was on a hot flying lap that was cruelled by the late red flag otherwise might have been further up the order.
P7 a good start for the Aussie as he adapts to the Superbike and the Pirelli rubber. Keeping that speed when the tyres are shot is the challenge that will confront him over race distance and that might take him some time to get his head around. Listening to the riders you would think the Michelins are square and the Pirellis are round, or vice versa, such is the dramatic difference in the way the tyres behave.
Andrea Locatelli had topped P1 but didn’t go any quicker this afternoon and ended up fifth on combined times ahead of the Ducati mounted Philipp Oettl.
Alex Lowes improved marginally during the afternoon session to 1m32.278 but that was only good enough for 15th on the time-sheets.
Interestingly the tyres used today were those that were left over here from last season as the container with the latest spec rubber is yet to arrive, and might not arrive until after this test is finished.
The forecast for tomorrow remains fine but there is expected to be a fair bit more wind and it might be a couple of degrees cooler. Things are predicted to hot up come Friday though with temperatures reaching as high as 35-degrees, cooling to around 28-degrees on Saturday but with a slight chance of a shower.Sunday’s forecast is for mainly sunny conditions and a top around 25-degrees.
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