Michael Van der Mark sets early marker as WorldSBK Testing gets underway at P.I.
Dutchman Michael van der Mark produced a late flyer on his Honda to set the fastest time in the opening hitout of a two-day world superbike (WorldSBK) pre-season test at Phillip Island ahead of round one hostilities beginning this Friday.
In the two-hour session interspersed with passing showers, van der Mark set a best lap of 1min31.510secs on the CBR1000SP to finish ahead of fast Spaniard Xavi Fores (Ducati, 1:31.795), with world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki, 1:31.945) also under the 32-second mark.
The leading Australian was Bringelly’s Josh Brookes in ninth position on his BMW Motorrad S 1000 RR, returning to the circuit where he won a slew of domestic races as well as the world supersport round in 2004 before he left for Europe. Brookes returns to WorldSBK as the current British Superbike champion.
Brookes’ compatriots Josh Hook (Kawasaki) and Troy Bayliss-backed wildcard Mike Jones (Ducati) were 20th and 21st respectively on the timesheets, and will be looking to improve their stocks even further in this afternoon’s second session from 3:40-5:40pm.
The balance of the top 10 in the first session — all producing times in the 32-second zone — was filled by world numbers two and three Chaz Davies (Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Jordi Torres (BMW Motorrad), Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha), Davide Giugliano (Ducati) and Sam Lowes (Yamaha).
Meanwhile, the biggest convert to WorldSBK in recent years, 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden, was 11th on his Honda.
In this morning’s 110-minute world supersport (WorldSSP) session, four-time world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawaski) dominated for the outset, and completed the session nearly one-second ahead of teammate and former Moto2 rider Randy Krummenacher, with American Patrick Jacobsen (Honda) in third.
Australians Anthony West (Yamaha) and Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) impressed in sixth and eighth respectively, with Mitch Levy (Yamaha) the best of the other locals in 17th ahead of Glenn Scott (Honda, 18th), Alex Phillis (Honda, 19th), Kane Burns (Suzuki, 22nd) and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki, 24th).
Last year’s Phillip Island winner Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) was 10th.
The kick-off of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance round will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit this Friday to Sunday (Feb 26-28).
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