The day has arrived: Alvaro Bautista can be crowned Champion and he started his day in a good way
With sunrise creating picture-postcard shots at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, Free Practice 3 was the sound to wake up to in Andalusia on Saturday morning. Dry running was crucial and after the first 30-minute session of the day, it was Champion-elect Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who was on top of the final FP3 session of the year as he starts what could be a title-clinching day.
Bautista not only led the way in FP3 but set the fastest time of the weekend and was one of just two riders in the 1’39 bracket, setting a 1’39.638. He was 0.233s ahead of Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Swiss rider in some good form at a track he has an abundance of experience at. Third place went the way of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who was less than half a second away from top slot. He was just less than a tenth and a half clear of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who is back in form, whilst Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) completed the top five. This weekend will be Bassani’s last with Lorenzo Mauri’s team, whilst Lecuona’s weekend will also be his last with crew chief Pete Jennings despite Iker remaining with the team for next year.
Sixth place went to Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who spent most of the session outside of the top ten on his final weekend of action in green. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) was threatening the top six again and up in P7, with the American just ahead of Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven). Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was the fourth Ducati, meanwhile, title contender Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) couldn’t improve on his FP2 time and was stuck in tenth during FP3, one place ahead of Friday’s second-fastest rider Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). Big names down field included Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in P13, one place ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) – who spent a lot of time lapping together with teammate Toprak – and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) who was just P16.
Top six after WorldSBK FP3, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’39.638s
2. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.233s
3. Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.455s
4. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +0.593s
5. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.629s
6. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.694s