Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport World SuperBike News
World Superbike Sepang Round – July 31 2015
World Supernike Sepang Rounf – Friday report, word and pictures
Two-time WorldSBK Champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) has topped the combined timesheets on the opening day of action at the Sepang International Circuit.
The 2’04.823 lap-time set in the early minutes of the morning’s Free Practice 1 allowed the Italian to not only lead the session itself, but also to remain on top in the afternoon, given the torrential rain that began falling around midday.
Double winner at Laguna Seca Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and the Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea completed the top-4, with the Welshman closing the gap to the top spot to 0.149s at the end of the first 45-minute session.
Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) were fifth and sixth, respectively while positions from seventh to tenth were taken by Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet and Pata Honda duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark.
A wet start to FP2 saw many WorldSBK riders electing to remain in the box, hoping that the heat would dry the 5.543km circuit in time for a fast lap at the end of the session. It was not until the final 13 minutes that a dry line appeared.
Leon Haslam entered the circuit with nine minutes to go, immediately moving into the top-3 of the afternoon session, while only Biaggi of the other front-runners from FP1 ventured onto the circuit.
In the damp conditions of the final stages it was eventually Davies who came out on top with a time of 2’11.300, ahead of fellow Brit Alex Lowes.
WorldSBK Sepang – Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
1 – Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing Team 2’04.823
2 – Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team +0.149
3 – Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +0.559
Max Biaggi #3 – Aprilia Racing Team
“That’s what happens here in this part of the world in August. Lot of rain and within a couple minutes everything is wet and that’s what happened in FP2. I made just one or two laps to check the wet setting as it’s been a while since I rode in the wet. It was good information inc ase we need to go out with a wet setting on Sunday. Looks like the days testing I had was good but the conditions today were not the same, it’s not the heat but the humidity that changes the grip on the track so we must look to see what we can improve here.”
Chaz Davies #7 – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team
“This morning’s practice went very well for an opening session. We tried to understand the new tyre options that Pirelli has brought to this event. My ‘ideal time’ is already as fast as I went on a qualifier last year and this is already a boost. We’re continuing to work on the rear end of the bike in terms of grip and stability as I think this will be key tomorrow and Sunday. Track conditions are fairly good, obviously this afternoon was different with patchy conditions after the rain that fell prior to the session, but it’s always useful to go out anyway, in case conditions are similar come race day…”
Jonathan Rea #65 – Kawasaki Racing Team
“We had some problems with the bike this morning which meant I was in the box for 20 minutes and we couldn’t make any changes to the electronics but nevertheless we made a good time at the end of FP1. We have some things to try in the morning so I hope that it isn’t wet.Tom has been strong of late so in terms of the championship it will be tough to wrap it up here. We will work hard ahead of Superpole and try some things in both sessions tomorrow before qualifying to be in the best position for the races.”