MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders took to the 34 degree Thai heat for free practice two, as they battled it out for the final spots in Superpole 2, which will take place before Saturday’s opening race at the Chang International Circuit.
Setting the fastest time in the morning FP1, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) continued his impressive pace around the swooping 4.554m circuit. Ending day one on top, his time of 1.33.573 out him 0.210 ahead of the field and is already looking like the man to beat. Whilst Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was able to put in a late fast lap to take second position with a time of 1.33.783.
Following a late spurt in FP1 as they begin to understand the circuit aboard their Panigale R machines, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took the third spot overall on Friday, 0.279 off Rea’s time, despite the Italian being unable to improve on his time from this morning. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing –Ducati) finished just behind his teammate in the humid Asian conditions.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) continued to build on his pace at a track he has stood on the podium at before, ending the day in the top five with safe place in Superpole. Teammate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also will take part in the second Superpole session, ending in eighth – lapping at 1.34.291.
Spaniard Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) continues to impress following a strong opening round and after finishing in the top four in FP1, he heads into day two at Chang International Circuit in sixth position, 0.601s off the fastest time.
Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) narrowly secured a position in the fight for pole position tomorrow, with a top nine finish on Friday. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) is still working through his new issues with his Italian machine; and despite a moment at turn three he ended in the top ten and will go straight into Superpole 2.
Just missing out on a spot in the all important second Superpole session, meaning they will fight for the top two spaces in Superpole 1 was Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), with a time of 1.34.554. He sits just above Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) who continue to work through frustrations aboard the new for 2017 Fireblade.
In a similar turn of events to the opening day at Round One in Phillip Island two weeks ago, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was unable to head out in FP1 with a mechanical problem. However the afternoon session saw the Brit continue with his frustrations, putting in 16 laps and finishing in 14th position.
WorldSSP: Smith Fridays's fastest in Thai Heat
Friday’s WorldSSP action at the Motul Thai Round in the heat of the Chang International Circuit saw Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) complete the day as the top man thanks to a 1’38.259 time.
Having also led FP1 Smith showed his pace again in an afternoon session which took place with 34°C ambient and 43°C track temperatures. Local wildcard Decha Kraisart (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) also dealt well with the conditions as he impressively lapped second quickest, just 0.15s down on Smith.
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) were all in the top five. In addition to Kraisart his fellow Thai wildcard Chalermpol Polamai (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) also ran well in sixth.
The end of the first day of action at round two of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand also saw Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing), Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) in the WorldSSP top ten, putting them all straight into Tissot Superpole 2.
Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) broke a chain late in the FP2 session and required a ride back to the pits from a steward, ending up 18th on the timesheet.
FP1 earlier in the day had seen Smith set a best time of 1’38.567 to lead the way from Cluzel by 0.231s, with Kraisart also in the top three. The FP1 top five also featured Mahias and Jacobsen, who will both be aiming for podium results this weekend. The morning session saw run-offs without major consequences for Ryde, Okubo and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), whilst Polamai crashed at turn 1 but was unharmed.
Defending WorldSSP World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is still absent having sustained a hand injury during pre-season and is aiming to return to action at Round 3 in Aragon.