Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing –Ducati) stole the show in the floodlit desert when the stars of WorldSBK commenced battle at 21:00 local time (GMT+3) on Friday evening for Free Practice 2. The top ten gained direct entry to the grid-deciding Tissot-Superpole 2 session to be held on Saturday before lights out for the penultimate Race of the 2016 season.
FP2 saw Davies and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) fight for the fastest combined time, with the Welshman prevailing in the final minutes of the session. Rea finished second fastest ahead of Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) who set the third quickest time of the night.
The action packed FP2 session saw Rea go on a desert trek in the gravel at the halfway mark, after he ran wide at turn 9. However, he quickly recovered and maintained his place in the top three. Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) improved his times from the earlier session to bring his Yamaha home in fourth ahead of Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in fifth. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) easily moved through to Superpole 2 with the sixth fastest time, while Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) trailing just behind him in seventh and Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) in eighth.
The struggle from FP1 continued for Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) when he ran off-track soon after Rea’s desert excursion. His rear locked up in the gravel and caused the frustrated Yorkshireman to head back to the pits. Sykes only re-joined the session in the last 15 minutes and in a desperate dash not to let his teammate and Championship rival out of his sights, he finally finished in ninth, comfortably ensuring his entry to Superpole 2.
Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team) was the last man home in tenth and safely through to Superpole 2. Leon Haslam (Pedercini Racing) made a great start to his weekend after a year out of WorldSBK competition, to finish with the 11th fastest time. Though he didn’t make it directly into Superpole 2, his pace shows he could be a serious top ten challenger ahead of the weekend’s races.
An early spill at the beginning of the session for Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team) saw the Dutchman struggle to maintain his top ten position. He just missed out on Superpole 2 after finishing in 12th and will now have to fight in Superpole 1 on Saturday if he wants to take advantage of a top ten grid position.
Once the grid has been decided in Saturday’s Superpole sessions, the lights will go out for the second to last time at 20:00 local time (GMT+3) at the incredible Losail International Circuit.
#QatarWorldSBK Day 1
Chaz Davies (GBR) DUCATI 1’57.712
Jonathan Rea (GBR) KAWASAKI +0.047
Xavi Fores (SPA) DUCATI +0.303