Early drizzle at Phillip Island shuffles the grid, with Melandri leading Rea in the first session of the year
After some early drizzle over Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, WorldSBK kicked 2018 into gear in the damp, with the sun taking some time to begin peeking through. Reigning champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) had a hold on the timesheets until quite late in the session, but Marco Melandri hit back in those final stages to put his Aruba.it Racing – Ducati machine in P1 and pip the Northern Irishman. Behind Rea in second, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) completed the top three, also making a late dash to the top.
The session came to an end early with a Red Flag due to track conditions – but with only 34 seconds left on the clock and the problem appearing to be geese around the circuit.
Fourth was a solid opening effort from Barni Racing Team’s Xavi Fores, ahead of the first Pata Yamaha in the form of Alex Lowes. PJ Jacobsen made a late lunge for P6 for new squad on the grid TripleM Honda World Superbike Team, ahead of fellow Honda rider Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who took seventh.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and debutant Yonny Hernandez (Team Pedercini Racing) completed the top ten, with Friday action continuing soon in FP2 and FP3 – and entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 yet to be decided.