Lowes heads Rea as day one in Buriram draws to a close
After the second Free Practice session of the day held in temperatures nudging 39 degrees Celsius the man at the head of the combined standings of the eni FIM World Superbike championship after the opening day of on-track action was Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Almost immediately times began to tumble as Chaz Davies (Aruba Ducati SBK) showed no ill-effects of his FP1 crash to improve by 4 tenths of a second,. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Alex Lowes and reigning Champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda WSBK Team) also improved by several tenths in the opening 7 minutes.
As the session progressed the focus for many riders was on potential tyre choice for Sunday’s races with many opting to string together several longer runs.
With a little over 5 minutes to go, and with all the riders pushing for a place in Tissot-Superpole tomorrow, the timing screens were illuminated with personal best sectors and potential best laps but as the chequered flag was waved, it was Alex Lowes, who grabbed first position overall after posting a sub 1.35s lap with 4 minutes to go.
Rea tried hard to retake the top spot, closing to within 0.066s of his British rival with his final lap, the pair comfortably ahead of the chasing pack.
Chaz Davies, Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli rounded out a top six that saw 5 manufacturers represented and separated by only 0.885s.
The remaining top ten riders in the overall standings were Troy Bayliss (Aruba Ducati SBK), Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati), Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and David Salom (Team Pedercini).
The reigning and former FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup winners Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) were locked together in 11th and 14th respectively after two encouraging sessions. The pair were split by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda WSBK Team) and Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) with former 125cc GP World Champion Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) 15th.
After suffering a technical problem with both machines in FP1, Niccolo Canepa and Larry Pegram (Team Hero EBR) were able to take part in the afternoon timed period, completing the opening day in 18th and 23rd.
The final Free Practice session that will decide the Tissot-Superpole qualifiers is scheduled to take place at 9.45am local time.