No stopping Rea in California despite FP3 scare

Saturday, 23 June 2018 00:10 GMT

The Kawasaki rider topped his third Free Practice session in a row, but turn 5 crash cools mood

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) topped the timesheets again in Free Practice 3 at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as the third timed session closed a Friday packed with action, and set up an intriguing weekend of racing in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.

Third time was not the charm for Rea’s rivals, as while the Northern Irishman set a flying lap just 7 hundredths of a second slower than his best FP2 time of 1’23.104, it was still three tenths faster than anyone else out on track.

The day ended in bittersweet fashion for the defending champion however, as a high-speed turn 5 crash, not even halfway through the session, left Rea with fewer laps on track than 18 of the 19 other men at Laguna Seca. Rea has lamented on previous occasions not getting enough track time on the Friday after red flags or weather conditions – could this early mistake put a dent in his confidence going into Race 1?

There was a sense of familiarity in FP3, as Marco Melandri ( Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) accompanied Rea in the top-3, as they did in FP2. The Italian was the only one of the trio to improve his best lap time, however it was not enough to trouble Rea’s mark.

A trend in recent final Friday practice sessions has been watching Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) pounce up the timesheets as the day goes by. Today was no different, as the Italian, just fourteenth in FP1, smashed his earlier times with the fourth fastest lap of the day. This also placed him above his teammate Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) for the first time on Friday, with the Irish rider in fifth position.

Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati) secured the sixth fastest time of the combined results, jumping ahead of lasts race’s winner Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), in seventh.

Eighth went to Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who found his way into tomorrow’s Superpole 2 in the final session, as did the Spanish duo of Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), with both men back up to pace in ninth and tenth, respectively, after struggling in the past two rounds.

The shock absence in the top-10 at the end of Friday was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who couldn’t improve his best FP1 lap throughout the rest of the day, and will have to start from Saturday’s Superpole 1. The Dutchman ended up with the eleventh fastest time of Friday.

As for the home riders, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) took 14th on Friday, with wildcard Josh Herrin (Attack Performance Two Wheel Legal Yamaha) in 15th, and PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) in 18th.

The GEICO US Round has gotten off to a wild start! And things will heat up even further tomorrow with Superpole 1, live from Laguna Seca starting at 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT). Catch it all live thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass!