WorldSBK, Sepang: Friday roundup – World Superbike & World Supersport
IodaRacing rider Lorenzo Savadori went quickest on Friday at Sepang International Circuit, beating Honda’s Nicky Hayden to the top spot by just over two tenths of a second in the final minutes of the second practice session. Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes finds himself outside the top ten on Day 1 and heading through Tissot-Superpole 1 after heading the field in the morning.
Kawasaki Racing Team pairing Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea were fastest in FP1 as times quickly tumbled, with the KRT duo taking the top spots from Honda WorldSBK team riders Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark in the last few minutes of the first session. FP1 saw Ducati riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano out of position on the timesheets outside the top ten, with FP2 left for the Aruba.it pairing to make sure they would graduate to Tissot-Superpole 2.
Leading that charge to Superpole was Aprilia rider Savadori, with the Italian rider putting in a last lap dash to go quickest near the end of the day’s action in FP2. IodaRacing rider Savadori, who has been gaining confidence throughout his rookie season, managed a gap of 0.216 above Sepang veteran but fellow WorldSBK rookie Nicky Hayden after the American put in a series of quick laps.
Markus Reiterberger was another quick rookie on Day 1, with the Althea BMW rider coming home in P3 ahead of Yamaha’s Alex Lowes. Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Davide Giugliano was the fastest Ducati on Day 1 in P5 after improving his FP1 pace, ahead of second Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres. Dutch Honda rider Michael van der Mark was seventh fastest on the opening day, ahead of Imola double winner and second Aruba.it rider Chaz Davies.
Anthony West, riding for Pedercini as replacement for injured Sylvain Barrier, was ninth after FP2 and consequently graduates straight through to Tissot-Superpole 2 in an incredibly impressive first contact with both the bike and newly resurfaced track. The Australian rider eventually went quicker than reigning Champion Jonathan Rea, who ended the day in P10.
Rea, who was second fastest in the morning, just made it through to Superpole 2, edging out teammate Tom Sykes for the last place in the top ten. Rea spent the morning circulating in a similar place on the timesheets until a last lap push saw him move up to P2, however the afternoon session saw the Championship leader under more pressure. Sykes, who had been fastest in the morning, is the big name sent through Superpole 1. The Yorkshireman has a fantastic qualifying record at Sepang International Circuit however, and could even benefit from the extra track time afforded by Superpole 1 as riders get to grips with the new asphalt in Malaysia.
FP3 begins on Saturday at 10:45 local time (GMT +8), before Tissot-Superpole at 13:30 ahead of Race 1 at 16:00.
WorldSBK – Sepang Day 1
Lorenzo Savadori IodaRacing 2:03.951
Nicky Hayden Honda World Superbike Team +0.216
Markus Reiterberger Althea BMW Racing Team +0.288
Last time WorldSSP raced at Sepang International Circuit it was American PJ Jacobsen who took the victory, and the Honda rider took P1 once more in 2016, this time on Friday. After a dry first session and rain hitting in the afternoon, those fastest in the morning are the riders graduating straight to Tissot-Superpole 2 on Saturday.
FP2 began slightly later than scheduled after a thunderstorm only minutes before the session was set to begin. With a wet track and little chance of improving lap times from FP1, riders were slow to venture out once the pits were open and the rain less heavy, and it was Assen winner Kyle Smith who was fastest in the wet. Local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin was also impressive in the rain in P5, just behind PJ Jacobsen, Gino Rea and Kenan Sofuoglu, but with dry FP1 times to decide entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 it is American Jacobsen who leads the grid into the qualifying session.
Joining the 2015 WorldSSP winner in the top ten after Day 1 were reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu, title contender Jules Cluzel, ahead of his MV Agusta Reparto Corse teammate Lorenzo Zanetti, and rookie WorldSSP rider Randy Krummenacher who locked out the top 5 in front of Spanish rider Nico Terol. Gino Rea was also fast in the dry conditions earlier in the day and will go through to Tissot-Superpole 2 ahead of Ondrej Jezek, Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Federico Caricasulo.
Local hero Khairuddin will be happy to go straight through to Superpole 2 in his home race despite the weather conditions, and the home rider should be buoyed by good pace in both the wet and dry, ready to put on a show for the crowd come rain or shine for Sunday’s WorldSSP race.
Tissot-Superpole 1 for WorldSSP begins at 14:30 local time (GMT +8) on Saturday, before the lights go out at 14:20 for the Race on Sunday.
WorldSSP – Sepang Day 1
PJ Jacobsen Honda World Supersport Team 2:10.162
Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +0.205
Jules Cluzel MV Agusta Reparto Corse +0.394