PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia – Only 37 thousandths of a second separated Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) at the end of second free practice for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island.
Following a wet morning session that saw only few riders taking to the track, the whole field made the most of the near perfect conditions to continue their preparation for the debut races of the year. Rookie sensation Lowes started off well by moving on top of the classification and kept the lead as the session progressed, followed by team mate Eugene Laverty.
“Today was good,” Lowes said. “The wind was really bad and affecting the bike a lot, but we still made some progress in certain areas. I’m looking forward to going out tomorrow and confirming that it is definitely better when the weather’s more favourable.
“I really like Phillip Island; when a track is as windy as it’s been today it is hard to enjoy it, but I think it’s a great track, and I’m looking forward to the racing here.”
As the on track action moved into the final stages, Melandri elevated himself to second ahead of fellow Italian Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), who also climbed up the timings in the late stages.
The reigning Champion had an off track moment before regrouping to put in his session best, while on the other hand team mate Loris Baz suffered his third crash of the week, fortunately unhurt. The young Frenchman finished eighth.
After the poor conditions of the first free practice, the weather conditions had improved considerably by the early afternoon at Phillip Island, allowing World Supersport riders to take to the track and get up to speed in Friday’s second session.
The protagonists of the series did not waste any time in finding their rhythm in almost perfect conditions, with three-time WSS Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) setting the pace throughout the 45 minutes. The Turk suffered a technical problem down the main straight in the late stages, but the 1:33.618 lap time was quick enough for him to keep the top spot.
Scotsman Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha) showed good form aboard his YZF-R6 as he claimed second place ahead of Core PTR Honda’s Raffaele De Rosa.
World Superbike Times Day 1
1.Alex Lowes (Suzuki) 1:31.100 (175.653 km/h)
2. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 1:31.137
3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:31.205
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:31.395
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:31.436
6. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) 1:31.448
7. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:31.533
8. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:31.637
9. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1:31.757
10. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:31.759
11. Toni Elias (Aprilia) 1:32.073
12. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1:32.340
13. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) 1:32.734
14. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1:32.944
15. Glen Allerton (BMW) 1:33.118
16. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta) 1:33.119
17. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) 1:33.635
18. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki) 1:33.996
19. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 1:34.279
20. Geoff May (EBR) 1:34.640
21. Imre Toth (BMW) 1:35.117
22. Mathew Walters (Kawasaki) 1:35.810
23. Aaron Yates (EBR) 1:36.338
NC. Peter Sebestyen (BMW) 1’39.076
–From WSBK Press Office