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 but still topped the overall timesheets for Friday with a blistering lap of 1’41.817. Second in the third session, Rea was beaten to the top 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 of 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)
The FIM Supersport World Championship returned to action on Friday at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the first of four decisive rounds, and it was Jules Cluzel (NRT) who was back on top. The Frenchman improved later on in the day, as he was only fifth in the opening free practice session at Portimao, but in FP2 he found the pace to fly above the other frontrunners by 0.104 seconds.
Cluzel was joined by Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) in a French one two at the top of the timesheets. The Frenchman had also finished FP1 in second position and a late charge in the latter session guaranteed that the 2017 WorldSSP champion would remain amongst the best on the day.
Championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) – five points ahead of Cluzel in the standings – ended Friday 0.120 seconds behind his championship rival and will have to find matching pace in tomorrow’s Superpole 2.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) topped the timesheets in FP1 and remained on top throughout most of FP2 but, unable to improve on his earlier time, dropped down to fourth at the end. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) followed in fifth, while the remaining championship frontrunner Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) crashed during his flying lap and will have to fight through tomorrow’s Superpole 1.
British duo Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) ended Friday in sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Hannes Soomer (Racedays) in eighth, Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in ninth, and Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) closing the top ten. WorldSSP debutant Hector Barbera (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished Friday in 23rd position.
Who will take the ninth pole position of the season? Find out on Saturday from 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) with Superpole 1.
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