Melandri tops FP3 but early lap from Rea keeps him in control, as big names miss out on top ten
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) completed a triumphant return to competition on Friday at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve by scoring the fastest time for the day in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Rea’s FP1 time of 1’41.817 was enough to guarantee him the top spot ahead of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), fastest in FP3 and Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).
The Northern Irishman couldn’t match his morning pace in FP3 but still topped the timesheets for Friday with a blistering lap of 1’41.817. Rea was however second in the third session, beaten in the closing minutes by Melandri. The Italian managed to step up in FP3 after a promising day’s work and looks fiercer than ever at the Portuguese rollercoaster, as he faces his last four rounds with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team.
Third for the day was Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) with one of his strongest performances of the year. Just half a second behind Rea, the Spaniard rode more laps than anyone on Friday (as he did at the official test three weeks ago) and showed encouraging signs for the weekend.
After languishing near the bottom of the standings in FP1 and FP2, everything seemed to click in the end for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) as he took fourth position with his fastest FP3 lap, as well as the leading independent rider spot.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) ended Friday in fifth place, putting his RSV4 again amongst the frontrunners and showing promising pace throughout the day; as did Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), with the Spaniard in sixth place at the chequered flag.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) improved his pace in the final Friday session but could only finish seventh on the combined timesheets, ahead of the two Yamahas of Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). A late crash for the Dutchman didn’t affect his qualification for tomorrow’s Superpole 2, while Lowes, who turns 28 today, left it late but eventually got the job done with the ninth best lap. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) completed the top ten on Friday.
An already difficult day for Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took a turn for the worse in FP3, as a crash and fire in his Panigale R left him out of action and having to qualify from tomorrow’s Superpole 1. Luckily the Welshman, who has recently recovered from successive collarbone injuries, walked away from the incident unharmed.
The WorldSBK riders will get the ball rolling on Saturday with the Superpole 1, starting at 10:30 local time (09:30 GMT)! Catch the best moments from today’s action thanks to WorldSBK VIdeoPass.