Tight at the top in Friday's free practise
MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders took to the 34 degree Thai heat for free practise two, as they battled it out for the final spots in Superpole 2, which will take place before Saturday’s opening race at the Chang International Circuit.
Setting the fastest time in the morning FP1, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) continued his impressive pace around the swooping 4.554m circuit. Ending day one on top, his time of 1.33.573 out him 0.210 ahead of the field and is already looking like the man to beat. Whilst Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was able to put in a late fast lap to take second position with a time of 1.33.783.
Following a late spurt in FP1 as they begin to understand the circuit aboard their Panigale R machines, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took the third spot overall on Friday, 0.279 off Rea’s time, despite the Italian being unable to improve on his time from this morning. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing –Ducati) finished just behind his team-mate in the humid Asian conditions.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) continued to build on his pace at a track he has stood on the podium at before, ending the day in the top five with safe place in Superpole. Team-mate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also will take part in the second Superpole session, ending in eighth – lapping at 1.34.291.
Spaniard Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) continues to impress following a strong opening round and after finishing in the top four in FP1, he heads into day two at Chang International Circuit in sixth position, 0.601s off the fastest time.
Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) narrowly secured a position in the fight for pole position tomorrow, with a top nine finish on Friday. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) is still working through his new issues with his Italian machine; and despite a moment at turn three he ended in the top ten and will go straight into Superpole Two.
Just missing out on a spot in the all important second Superpole session, meaning they will fight for the top two spaces in Superpole 1 was Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), with a time of 1.34.554. He sits just above Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) who continue to work through frustrations aboard the new for 2017 Fireblade.
In a similar turn of events to the opening day at Round One in Phillip Island two weeks ago, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was unable to head out in FP1 with a mechanical problem. However the afternoon session saw the Brit continue with his frustrations, putting in 16 laps and finishing in 14th position.
Saturday will see riders take on the Asian challenge on Saturday from 13:30LT for Superpole One, before the racing action begins at 16:00LT (+8 GMT) in Buriram.