Aruba Ducati’s Chaz Davies kept reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea honest in the opening Imola WorldSBK free practice this moring, finishing three-tenths behind the Kawasaki man.
Rea led almost the entire session - which was red-flagged after Eugene Laverty crashed at Piratella - setting a 1’46.363 halfway through which was never bettered.
Davies began slowly but climbed into seconds spot with a 1’46.924 and was the only other rider to go under the 1’47s barrier.
Championship leader Alvaro Bautista, who has only had one morning riding at Imola after a recent test was rained off, ended in third and six-tenths behind Rea.
Bautista learning the exit at Tosa
Rea and Davies are making the most consistent laptimes, top three in all sector but it is the second half of the lap where Rea is making most of his time. Bautista is a country mile off in sector four losing three-tenths to the Kawsaki.
Leon Haslam, on the sister bike to Rea, ended in fourth place with a late charge of 1’47.434 and is a tenth ahead of Tom Sykes’ BMW.
The Huddersfield rider still hasn’t received any power-ups so is relying on chassis setup to make the difference at the parkland circuit. He finished just less than a second off the pace.
Michael van der Mark was top Yamaha, putting his Pata-backed R1 in sixth place. Michael Rinaldi put in a one-lap bite-the-screen dash to claim seventh which pushed GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri back to eighth.
Alex Lowes has been shitting through the eye of a needle for the past two days and is just about regaining strength. He ended in ninth with Toprak Razgatlioglu completing the top ten on a 1’48.319.
Sandro Cortese, still struggling with a shoulder injury, was 12th and one behind Markus Reiterberger. Jordi Torres, wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti and Leon Camier rounded out the top 15.
1 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale V4 R 285,9
2 21 M. RINALDI Ducati Panigale V4 R 283,7
3 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 282,2
4 19 A. BAUTISTA Ducati Panigale V4 R 280,7
5 87 L. ZANETTI Ducati Panigale V4 R 280,0
6 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Kawasaki ZX-10RR 278,5
7 28 M. REITERBERGER BMW S1000 RR 278,5
8 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 278,5
9 66 T. SYKES BMW S1000 RR 277,1
10 81 J. TORRES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 277,1
11 91 L. HASLAM Kawasaki ZX-10RR 276,4
12 33 M. MELANDRI Yamaha YZF R1 275,0
13 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 274,3
14 80 H. BARBERA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 274,3
15 23 R. KIYONARI Honda CBR1000RR 274,3
16 11 S. CORTESE Yamaha YZF R1 270,9
17 2 L. CAMIER Honda CBR1000RR 270,9
18 50 E. LAVERTY Ducati Panigale V4 R 267,5
19 52 A. DELBIANCO Honda CBR1000RR 266,8