Round One – Phillip Island
Free Practice Three
With Chris Plumridge
Scott Redding (Aruba.IT Ducati) has once again topped the time sheets in Free Practice 3 for the Yamaha Finance Round of the 2020 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. His lap of 1m29.896 under Alvaro Bautista’s lap record pace of 1m30.573 last year, and only four-tenths off the all-time best lap set by Jonathan Rea in Superpole here last year.
Overcast and cool conditions greeted WorldSBK riders on Saturday but there was thankfully no rain on the radar despite some very dark patches of cloud looming on the horizon… Sure enough, with four short minutes until pit lane opened, the message comes through: rain in Sector 1. Aah, Phillip Island!
With the weather now threatening a number of riders looked to get out there and get some track time before the weather hit – in addition to the time lost to the weather yesterday and the fact that this practice was only 20 minutes lent the session extra importance. Jonathan Rea took the Kawasaki out for one lap and then brought it straight back in, clearly unhappy with the changes made to the bike overnight.
Alex Lowes (KRT) was straight into the 1:31’s, his 1:31.648 put him fastest of the first round of laps. Yesterday’s fastest Scott Redding (Aruba.IT Ducati) was picking up where he left off, 1:32.124, while Lowes then put the first serious time in, 1:30.484.
Leon Haslam (HRC) lost the front end under brakes at Turn 4, he and the bike went tumbling into the gravel and out of the session- he was two thousandths up on Lowes at the first split and was pushing hard.
Already a quarter of the way through the allotted 20 minutes and it was only Loris Baz (Ten Kate Yamaha) and Leon Camier (Barni Racing Ducati) yet to post a time. Rea was back out on the track with his problem apparently rectified, his 1:30.550 good enough for second behind teammate Lowes. Plenty of the riders were pushing hard, Michael van der Mark sideways into the pitlane for a quick stop and then straight back out again.
Jonathan Rea then straight to the top with a 1:30.286, and Loris Baz was out of the pits and straight on it- his first flying lap was 1:30.569 and good for second behind Rea. Not wanting to be left out, Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA Yamaha) was sideways into MG on the brakes and slotting into third fastest, 1:30.518.
Toprak’s team-mate Michael van der Mark was in line for the perfect tow behind Rea for a 1:30.025 to catapult himself to the top of the timesheets and oh-so-close to breaking the minute-30 barrier. Jonathan Rea then decided to reverse the positions but would not improve- meanwhile Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha) was off in the gravel at Turn 4 and resuming.
With four laps to go Alvaro Bautista (HRC) was still yet to set a meaningful time from his six laps, his best of 1:31.232 still not good enough to crack the top 10. Questions have been arising around Bautista’s ability to adapt from the V4 of the Ducati to the in-line 4 of the Honda. Only time will tell, but we haven’t seen Bautista bother the leaders too much just yet.
As the clock wound down Redding did it again – coming from sixth to set a 1:29.896 and topping the session after the chequered flag for the second time in a row. Van der Mark was then bumped back to second fastest, with Rea, Baz, Lowes and Razgatlioglu filling out the top six. The two BMWs in Sykes and Laverty were seventh and ninth, split by Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
World Superbike continues today from Phillip Island as part of the Yamaha Finance Round of the 2020 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. The Tissot Superpole session starts at 1215 followed by Race 1 at 1500 AEDT.
Round One – Phillip Island
Free Practice Three Results
|M. Van Der Mark
| L. Haslam