San Juan virgin Alvaro Bautista topped the opening WorldSBK practice today in Argentina with a lap that is some six seconds off the record and slower than the equivalent lap from last year.
Bautista has never seen the Villicum track before and consequently put in 16 laps on a surface that is so dirty, riders are slower than they were in free practice one last year - the first time the track had ever been used.
The Spaniard’s best was a 1’45.191 compared to the pole record of 1’39.012 set by Marco Melandri last year. The fastest lap in free practice one 2018 was 1’44.096 by Alex Lowes.
Newly-crowned five-time champion Jonathan Rea sat in his garage for most the session - letting everyone else clean up the track - but came out with about eight minutes left. He finished in second place after completing only six laps with a best of 1’46.046.
Barni Ducati’s Michael Rinaldi was third and a second off his factory team-leader while Toprak Razgatlioglu ended in fourth on 1’46.904 after 18 laps.
Pedercini Kawasaki’s Jordi Torres hopped into fifth on his final run with Yamaha’s Lowes in sixth with only ten laps under his belt.
Yamaha team-mate Michael van der Mark was seventh with Loris Baz, on the Ten Kate R1, in eighth place. Sandro Cortese put his GRT R1 in sixth with Melandri the slowest of the Yamahas in tenth. Seven-tenths splits the fastest of the Yamahas from the least fast Yamaha.
Leon Haslam put in 18 laps on his ZX-10RR but only managed 11th place, one ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari. Chaz Davies, Tom Sykes and hometown hero Tati Mercado completed the top 15.