Sykes heads opening day of WorldSBK action at Jerez
Rea just 0.024s shy of the lead, Lowes third after FP2 blistering lap.
One further free practice session tomorrow morning will decide which of the WorldSBK riders make it into Tissot-Superpole, as an increase in track temperature in this afternoon's FP2 prevented many of them from improving at Jerez.
The current running order at the end of Day 1 is mostly unchanged from the morning's results, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) heading team-mate and 2015 World Champion elect Jonathan Rea by 0.024s, the pair a fraction ahead of Alex Lowes. The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider elevated himself into the top ten with a time of 1.42.730s which - despite a mid-session tumble - bodes well for FP3, taking place tomorrow at 09:45 local time. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) clung on to fourth, 0.099s behind Sykes after he too failed to improve.
Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) moved one step down to fifth place, while Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) did improve this afternoon, the Spaniard ending the day sixth after losing the front at turn 2, a few metres up the track from where he also fell few hours earlier.
Torres’ team-mate Leon Haslam was seventh ahead of Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati), Michele Pirro (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) and Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team).
11th to 15th positions were the most altered - Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) will head into tomorrow 11th ahead of Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).
Tom Sykes - Kawasaki Racing Team - 1st: "I had a good six weeks with my family, my wife and I celebrated the birth of our second child, I turned 30 which means I'm getting older but I act like I'm 16 so it's not such a big number (laughs). I felt good straight away today and I'm hoping to end the season strongly and to be able to put on a good show on Sunday."
Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team - 2nd: "It's all still very much a dream. Since I was a child I dreamt of being in this position so I still can't quite believe it. I never expected to be able to possibly win the title three rounds from the end but everyone has done such an amazing job and worked so hard. We can't get carried away though, it's not over yet but today's position is a good base. The difference from FP1 and FP2 in terms of temperature was quite big so we focused on different areas in both sessions, to try to be in the best shape on Sunday."
Alex Lowes - Voltcom Crescent Suzuki - 3rd: "We lost 20 minutes this morning with a small technical problem and I ran off track this afternoon, but in the end it all came together. We came here with more or less the same setting as Sepang and this afternoon, when the temperature started to rise, the bike was well suited. We need to keep working but after not riding for so long we can be happy with today."
WorldSBK Jerez - Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
1 - Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team 1'41.957
2 - Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +0.024
3 - Alex Lowes Voltcom Crescent Suzuki +0.090
Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano and the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team together again in 2016
Jerez WSBK: Sykes leads Kawasaki 1-2 in qualifying