Jonathan Rea (GBR) shone his way to first place in the second free practice session at Losail
After the opening floodlit session of the weekend, the second free practice session at the Losail International Circuit saw lap times tumble as the WorldSBK riders got up to speed around the 5.380km Qatari track, with a flurry of improving laps in the final eight minutes.
At the flag Jonathan Rea was the fastest overall courtesy of his 1.58.252s lap time set on his penultimate lap; the 2015 WorldSBK Champion powered to the number one spot by 0.154s ahead of Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and his teammate Tom Sykes, who were second and third, respectively.
There were a number of off track moments for a number of riders including Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), the Dutchman refusing to close the throttle as he ran off the edge of the kerb at the fast turn 16. He ended the day in a strong fifth, just behind Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) who improved to fourth in the closing stages.
Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) had his leathers flapping in the breeze as he improved to sixth ahead of Xavi Fores (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team), Randy de Puniet and his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki teammate Alex Lowes and Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati).
Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing), David Salom (Team Pedercini) and Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) were 11th to 13th, respectively while Sylvain Guintoli’s evening of woe continued as he appeared to suffer another technical issue out of the final turn, causing him to run onto the grass on the inside of the circuit. The Pata Honda mechanics sprinted into action once again, pushing the CBR machine back to the garage; he was classified 14th and will be hoping for better fortune tomorrow. Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) completed the top 15.
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team – 1st – “We Knew that Aprilia would be strong and Jordi seems to have pace. Chaz (Davies) too should be there on Sunday as he’s been one of the strongest riders but we will keep working on the setting for Sunday’s races. Apart from me needing a little more front-end stability the bike is working well.”
Jordi Torres – Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils – 2nd – “I’m happy but I’m carrying too much corner speed which is affecting my acceleration. Im A little concerned that if I don’t improve this we could get pushed back but we will work on it tomorrow. The settings from Max (Biaggi) are working well and I’m happy to be riding a superbike here at night.”
Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team – 3rd – “We started strong in the first session and built on it. The heat and the conditions aren’t too much of a problem when you’re riding it’s when you stop that it hits you. We are in a good position so far but let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team – 4th – “We need to continue to work in the last sector, not in terms of speed but in terms of the setting. Apart from that I think we made good improvement from the first to the second session, but we definitely have more to do tomorrow. I don’t yet feel quite ready for the race and so I’m pleased we have more time available tomorrow. We’ll try to make the most of the next sessions to test a few things so as to be prepared for race day.”
Michael van der Mark – Pata Honda World Superbike – 5th – “The Honda is working well here and I really enjoyed today. My setting is not perfect but we know the direction we need to go and to get to the front isn’t such a big step. My ideal lap was much faster so I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
WorldSBK Qatar – Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
1 – Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 1’58.252
2 – Jordi Torres Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils +0.154
3 – Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team +0.385
Mahias heads WSS field after opening night in Qatar
After topping the first session earlier in the day, Lucas Mahias (MG Competition Yamaha) ended the opening day with the fastest WSS time, the French rider lapping the 5.380km Losail International Circuit in a time of 2.02.642s, just over a second shy of the circuit record of 2.01.586s set way back in 2009 by former Supersport World Champion Cal Crutchlow.
With all but two riders improving on FP1, the overall day one classification was decided on the times from the second 45-minute encounter.
Behind Mahias, the recently crowned World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was second ahead of Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), who improved to third with his final lap.
PJ Jacobsen crashed his CORE’’ Motorsport Thailand Honda in the final seconds of Free Practice 2 whilst on a potential P1 time. The American was uninjured and ended the day fourth ahead of Spain’s Nico Terol, who was impressive in fifth on only his third ride on the MV Agusta Reparto Corse entry, and Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda).
Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) had one of his strongest opening days of the year finishing a fine seventh ahead of Kevin Wahr (SMS Honda) and Roberto Rolfo (Team Lorini) as the top 9 riders were split by a second, with Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) tenth at the flag.
Glenn Scott made the most of a full FP2, after missing the majority of the opening due to a technical problem on his AARK Racing Honda, by elevating himself to 14th.
Abdulaziz Binladin became the first Saudi Arabian rider to take part in World Supersport competition; riding a third Kawasaki Puccetti Racing machine, he ended the opening day a respectable 17th overall on the combined classification.
European Junior Cup regular Stefan Hill made his WSS debut with the CIA Landlords Insurance Honda team, improving by several seconds to move into the top 20 at the end of the opening day.
World Supersport Qatar – Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
1 – Lucas Mahias MG Competition Yamaha 2’02.642
2 – Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +0.133
3 – Kyle Smith Pata Honda World Supersport +0.195