Michael Van Der Mark ends first test session at Phillip Island on top
Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark registered the fastest time in FP1 at today’s test, lapping 0.285 seconds quicker than second placed Xavi Fores on his Ducati. Reigning Champion Jonathan Rea was third fastest after having lead for the majority of the session before light rain in one sector then started to spread across the track.
Rain wasn’t the only interruption, with a red flag earlier in the session after a crash for Peter Sebestyen, shortly following Milwaukee BMW rider Karel Abraham’s crash at Turn 11. The Czech rider was taken for a medical check and deemed fit to continue competing, escaping the highside unscathed.
As conditions heading into the last half hour started to improve, Rea remained on top with Catalan rider Jordi Torres having taken his Althea BMW up into P2. The pits then suddenly seemed to spring back to life as the track dried enough to allow the riders to try and improve their times, with the majority able to do so. Chaz Davies looked set to beat Rea’s time briefly, before Xavi Fores put in a lap on his Barni Racing Team Panigale R that catapulted him to the top of the timesheets. Behind Tom Sykes for a lot of the lap, the Valencian rider was able to prove once again why his appearances last year replacing Davide Giugliano merited a full time ride in WorldSBK in 2016.
Michael Van Der Mark, 2014 WorldSSP Champion and 3 times on the podium as a rookie in WorldSBK last year, then used the last few minutes to put in a scorching lap that saw him almost half a second up through most sectors, eventually crossing the line just under three tenths clear. The session ended slightly early as Alex De Angelis suffered a late crash at the final turn, with the rider from San Marino sent to the Medical Center for a medical check and the incident briefly bringing out the red flag once again.
WorldSBK riders will be hoping for a drier second session at Phillip Island later in day, with everything to play for in the first round of WorldSBK this Saturday.
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