Rea leads proceedings on opening day in France
Davies, Sykes, Haslam and Lowes complete an all-British top 5 at Magny-Cours.
The opening day’s Free Practice sessions for the Fassi French Round drew to a close with new WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea leading the way aboard his Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R. The 28-year-old Ulsterman was able to break the 1’38s barrier on his penultimate lap of the FP2 session as he lapped the 4.411km Magny-Cours track in 1’37.750, to edge his teammate Tom Sykes and factory Ducati rider Chaz Davies by nearly three tenths of a second.
Fourth and fifth placed Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) showed great speed aboard their respective bikes, likewise Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) who was sixth at the flag, despite an early crash during the session.
Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) continued his familiarisation with the French track by finishing seventh ahead of the Italian trio of Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati), Luca Scassa (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) and Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), who rounded out the top 10.
Outgoing WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike) was headed by Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) for eleventh, while one wildcard rider Markus Reiterberger (VanZon Remeha BMW) claimed a provisional thirteenth place ahead of tomorrow morning’s FP3, which will decide the riders taking part in the twelfth round’s Tissot-Superpole.
Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team - 1st
“It's a good start and nice to be back with the leading riders. In Jerez we struggled a bit so for sure my aim this weekend is to be back on the podium. We did a good job today which is important because some people are saying that it will rain tomorrow.”
Chaz Davies - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team - 2nd
“I’m fairly pleased with how today went. I’ve always had a bit of a strange time here at Magny-Cours in the past but today we’ve made a good start and I hope that we can continue on like this tomorrow. We’ve continued with the work carried out at the Jerez test, also concentrating on tyre selection. We’ve still got work to do, I’d like to improve my bike’s turning a little more for example, but I’m happy with the progress made today.”
Tom Sykes - Kawasaki Racing Team - 3rd
"We're happy with how today went and of course our aim for this weekend is to beat Chaz and win races. We have a few things to try tomorrow morning to improve the bike and whether the weather throws at us we'll be ready. I'd like to sort second place out myself and I certainly won't be asking for anyone to assist me."
Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
1 - Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team
2 - Chaz Davies - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team +0.294
3 - Tom Sykes - Kawasaki Racing Team +0.323
All focus shifts to battle for second at Magny-Cours
Magny-Cours WSBK: Haslam takes pole despite fall