Game of tug-of-war at the top of the timesheets with up to nine different riders taking P1
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed first position at the Circuito San Juan Villicum after a back and forth, unpredictable Free Practice 2, in which nine different riders managed to record at one point of the session the fastest lap. Proof of how tight the battle is at the Motul Argentinian Round is that two of those men – Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) – are now outside of the top ten.
With higher temperatures and a first 40-minute stint to work with, FP2 began with two bikes ahead of the rest of the field, as the two works Yamaha and Kawasaki riders took it in turns to claim P1 throughout the first half of the session, with independent rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) also in the mix.
The blue and green machine dominance lasted just over half the session, as Melandri blasted into first position with 18 minutes on the clock, recording the first sub-1’43 lap at San Juan. His Ducati partner Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) joined the group a few laps later, with Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) also managing to slot himself close to the top after finishing FP1 in 13th, and Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) flying into fourth with five minutes to go.
After several more back-and-forths, the checkered flag came down with Rea on top after a brilliant final lap of 1’41.794, two and a half seconds faster than his FP1 best. He was followed by Razgatlioglu and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who exchanged second position in the dying moments of FP2. The Turkish rider was finally second with Lowes third.
A late surge from Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) saw him rise to fourth in the combined timesheets, with Davies fifth and Gagne in sixth. Melandri’s best time was eventually only enough to grab seventh best in FP2, ahead of Laverty in eighth, Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) ninth, and local hero Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) closing the top ten. With faster times dropping easily through every session, expect a nail-biting FP3.
Who will make it into the Superpole 2 in Argentina? Follow the final free practice at San Juan through live timing here on WorldSBK.com.