WorldSBK: Rea Guns It Hardest
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) relied on his opening session time of 1:57.666 to secure the fastest qualifying time of the first evening of action at Losail in Qatar, the final round of the WorldSBK championship.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) displaced Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) for second late in the session, going 0.259 seconds from the number one plate holder after Sykes’ machine had technical problems that put the smoke out from behind his machine and brought out the red flags. The session was halted and restarted after the clean-up operation.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fourth fastest, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) fifth quickest.
Top 2017 privateer Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Ducati) slotted into sixth place, ahead of the full factory bike of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) went eighth, with team-mates Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) completing the top ten.
Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 11th, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 12th and stand-in rider from the USA, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), 17th.
Superpole begins on Friday evening at 18.30 local time.
WorldSSP: Mahias Fastest As Sofuoglu Makes Miracle Comeback
A stunning final run from WorldSSP championship leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) saw him enter Friday’s Superpole session as fastest qualifier, going fully 0.412 seconds quicker than the next best rider Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) with a 1:43.521.
A miracle of physical recovery saw Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) not only get back into track action just a few weeks after breaking his pelvis in multiple places, but go seventh fastest after the first two hour of track action. He is the only man in with any chance of stopping Mahias from becoming champion, in a mathematical sense.
Third fastest today was last year’s pole man in WorldSSP, Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Triumph) with Jerez race winner
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fourth.
Another seeming British desert specialist, Kyle Smith (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini Honda) was fifth fastest, his team-mate Sofuoglu just behind, and only 0.612 seconds off the very best pace of the day.
Anthony West (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) carried on his good form from his Jerez podium with the sixth best time pre-Superpole.
Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) made it a running flush of Puccetti bikes in eighth place.
Niki Tuuli (Kallio Race System Yamaha) was the ninth and the first rider to be over a second away from lead man Mahias in his qualifying pace.
Tenth for Christian Gamarino (BARDHAL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) made him the third best Honda rider on show. The best MV runner was official MV Agusta Reparto Corse runner Patrick Jacobsen, 11th.
Superpole 1 and 2 will take place on Friday evening in Qatar, beginning at 19.30 local time.