Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport World Superbike News
“Rea ends on top as Official Phillip Island test concludes”
Final session for WorldSBK before season gets underway
Basking in the summer sun at the stunning Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders were able to take advantage of the four hours they have out on track, following a disrupted day on Monday before the opening round of the season commences in three days time.
Heading out in the early session on Tuesday morning, cooler track temperatures greeted riders and it was the Kawasaki Racing Team who were the first to lead the way of the two hour session. Whilst the fastest man from day one – Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) – crept back up to the top in the opening half hour of the session.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended the session on top, with a lap time of 1.30.545 and was 0.258s ahead of the rest of the field as the reigning champion led the majority of the session. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was one position behind Rea, following a steady opening day. Melandri was just one position ahead of his team-mate, Davies who ended in third position.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) put in 38 laps of the circuit and began to iron out issues from yesterday, despite suffering a crash in the closing four minutes of the session the Yorkshireman went back to the box unharmed.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team-mates Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark had a varied opening session; Lowes put in strong race simulations aboard his YZF-R, finishing in eighth overall and a lap time of 1.31.692. Whilst van der Mark struggled to make it into the top ten and crashed towards the end of the session this morning, and this afternoon he made steady progress with his R1 – his time a 1.31.936.
The Australian summer weather stuck around for the afternoon session, and riders continued to take advantage of the track time following a difficult opening day of the test, however some were unable to improve on their times of this morning.
Rea finished on the top spot overall on day two, spending day two unbeatable aboard the ZX-10RR. However he faced stiff competition from Melandri, as the Italian put in an impressive 105 laps throughout the two days, and his best overall lap time was a 1.30.575. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) completed the test in third spot – his lap time a 1.30.893 as he was just six laps shy of completing 100 in the final Official Test of the pre-season.
Sykes was able to take the fourth spot overall in the test with a final lap time of 1.31.044, making him just under half a second shy of the top spot. Monday’s fastest man Fores ended in the top five – setting his fastest lap time in the morning session on day two.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) continues his strong and steady progress throughout the testing, as he ties up his short winter testing with a top six finish and an overall lap time of 1.31.293. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was another rider to have a strong day, taking a top seven finish with a lap time of 1.31.449.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team continue to learn and understand how their new Honda Fireblade SP2 works, and the pair ended the test in the bottom half of the timing sheets and were almost 1.5s behind Rea. Nicky Hayden finished day two in 14th position, whilst Stefan Bradl in 19th with a lap time of 1.32.796.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) was able to take a top nine position in Phillip Island, his lap time of 1.31.673 putting in 88 laps around the circuit, as German team-mate Markus Reiterberger struggled on the final day, but was still able to salvage a 15th position finish.
The final winter test concluded at Phillip Island this week, as the 2017 season kicks off on Friday 24th February with flags being waved for FP1 at 9.45am LT (GMT +11).