As riders took to the fast and flowing Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit for the first session of the Official test, changeable weather conditions caused disruption throughout the morning session.
Determined to get some solid testing time in, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders didn’t waste any time in heading out as they look at making any final changes before the season kicks off this week.
Eleven riders took to the track in the opening hour as Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) sat at the top of the tree with a lap time of 1.44.949 ahead of Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) in second position.
Sunny intervals continued throughout the session and Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC Project) led the way before Italian Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) took the honours with a time of 1.42.902 just as the heavens opened. Only Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) didn’t take the risk.
Heading out at 13.40pm LT, the erratic weather calmed down and the circuit began to dry. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) set a 1.34 lap time straight off the bat and times continued to tumble with the sun breaking through the clouds.
Hitting the hour to go mark, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) shot into the fastest spot – his lap time a 1.32.723. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) was the only rider to challenge him before Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team) was able to go 0.118s quicker, and the pair began to swap positions in the closing minutes.
All riders improved on their lap times from this morning, and it was Forés who ended the day ahead of Rea, with a final lap time of 1.31.412 which put the Spaniard 0.411s ahead of Rea’s 1.31.823.
Returning Melandri continued with a strong pace, keeping himself up the top end of the timing sheets – his final lap time a 1.32.216 ahead of van der Mark in fourth position. The young Dutchman finished the day setting a time of 1.32.440 with his new team, ahead of Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who rounded out the top five with a time of 1.32.591 as he put in the most amount of laps of the day – 43.
1.32.663 put Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in sixth position, ahead of an impressive De Angelis time of 1.32.687. Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team continue to make steady improvements with the new Fireblade, and they finished the day 11th and 12th respectively; Hayden in 11th with a lap time of 1.33.189 an Bradl with a 1.33.353.
Ending in the top 15 – Althea BMW Racing Team will be hoping to have a more positive day tomorrow, as Jordi Torres in 13th ahead of Markus Reiterberger in 15th. Wild card rider Josh Brookes (ERMotorsport-EliteRoads.com.au) ended up down in 16th position – his time a 1.34.259.
Cluzel Ends Day One on Top in World Supersport
Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) was able to take the honors in the opening World Supersport session of the Official Test with a time of 1.35.365; as the weather continued to cause minor delays around the swooping Australian circuit.
The main talking point of FP1 was Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who was testing for the first time following his injury over the winter. Trying out five laps aboard his ZX-6R, he was still able to secure the sixth fastest time of the morning – a 1.36.264 - before the rain hit.
With a quiet start to the Official WorldSSP test, the 26 riders were cautious regarding the amount of time out on track, but were all able to begin to set some solid lap times and collect data with a big week ahead.
Similar patterns were seen during FP2, and all bikes were back in the pits at the end of the first half hour. However the downfall held off for the remainder of the afternoon meaning riders were fully able to stretch their legs for the first time.
Cluzel was unable to improve on his lap time of this morning, which was the case for all riders in the Supersport class, as the track was unable to dry from the rain which fell this morning. Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) was the fastest rider out on track this afternoon, leading his MV Agusta around the swooping circuit to a lap time of 1.36.539.
Combined practice times saw Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) finish in the top three and just over half a second behind the fast Frenchman, as his lap time was a 1.36.031. It was a strong day for CIA Landlord Insurance Honda as Hikari Okubo was able to set a time of 1.36.187 to take fourth spot of the day, ahead of Zulfhami Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura)’s time of 1.36.263 to put him in fifth.
Choosing not to go out in the risky conditions of FP2, Sofulogu rounded out the day in sixth. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) was one of 15 riders out on track for FP2, and kept a hold of his seventh position in the standings overall and a time of 1.36.317.
Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) took eighth spot at the end of the opening day – setting a lap time of 1.36.399 he was one of the riders to head out in both sessions, as the Brit continues to adjust to his new team. Just 0.159s behind Rea was last year’s top five finisher, PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in ninth position. The American is also with a new team for 2017, and put in 29 laps in total for his opening day around the unforgiving Phillip Island circuit.