World Champion on top in FP1 at final round, with Sykes and Davies just behind him on timesheet
As the WorldSBK action commenced on Thursday evening at the Acerbis Qatar Round, the final weekend of the 2017 season, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who led the way with a 1’57.666 lap. Under the floodlights at the spectacular Losail International Circuit in the Qatari desert Rea outpaced Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) who also featured in the top three.
Ahead of the final races of the year on Friday and Saturday the riders got a feel for the desert conditions in FP1 and they will all be pushing as hard as ever this weekend in order to end the year on a high.
Rea was the sharpest performer in the opening practice on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, lapping a hefty 0.689s margin ahead of his closest rival and teammate Sykes. The Northern Irishman’s hot lap came towards the end of the hour long practice session as many of the riders improved on their times.
Davies was 0.882s down on Rea in third place, whilst a lap time 1.013s off the triple World Champion’s best effort put Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) fourth. This weekend in Qatar Sykes and Davies will battle it out for the runners-up position in this year’s championship behind title winner Rea and both will be looking to gain any psychological advantage they can before Tissot Superpole and Race 1 on Friday.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) finished the session in fifth and sixth places respectively, whilst Laverty’s Aprilia teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was seventh.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team), Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) completed the top ten.
The riders will be back on track for FP2 in Qatar at 9pm local time (GMT +3).