Reigning WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea saved his best to last in the opening free practice at Losail, nicking top spot from Toprak Razgatlioglu by a tenth of a second with his last lap.
The Pucetti Kawasaki rider had taken charge with eight minutes left, putting in a 1’58.140 to open a decent gap over the works Yamaha of Alex Lowes but Rea came out fighting on his final run and stuck in a 1’58.010 just as the chequered flag was flapped.
Lowes had been at the top of the pile at the halfway point with a 1’58.493 and he didn’t better his time after crashing unhurt late on. The Derby rider also succumbed to a late lap from team-mate and championship third-place rival Michael van der Mark who finished in third with a 1’58.402, beating Lowes by less than a tenth.
Half a second covered the top five with GRT Yamaha’s Sandro Cortese next up. The German, who still hasn’t announced his 2020 plans, set a 1’58.516 with three minutes left and that was enough to halt a late charge from Ten Kate Yamaha’s Loris Baz.
The lanky Frenchman set a 1’58.566 to stay ahead of Alvaro Bautista’s Ducati Panigale, which again had an advantage on the long pit straight (see below).
Aruba team-mate Chaz Davies bounced back from a turn-four crash to finish in seventh with a 1’58.592, almost nine-tenths off the pace with Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes completing the top ten.
Markus Reiterberger hung on to his BMW team-mate, finishing two-tenths behind Sykes with Tati Mercado in 12th.
Leon Haslam ended right down in 13th place and some 1.765s behind Rea on the same KRT ZX-10R while Eugene Laverty was a place further back. Michael Rinaldi completed the top 15, one place ahead of Leon Camier, who replaces him in the Barni Ducati team next year.
1 19 A. BAUTISTA Ducati Panigale V4 R 319,5
2 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 315,8
3 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale V4 R 315,8
4 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 314,9
5 50 E. LAVERTY Ducati Panigale V4 R 312,1
6 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 312,1
7 33 M. MELANDRI Yamaha YZF R1 311,2
8 11 S. CORTESE Yamaha YZF R1 311,2
9 2 L. CAMIER Honda CBR1000RR 310,3
10 21 M. RINALDI Ducati Panigale V4 R 308,6
11 66 T. SYKES BMW S1000 RR 308,6
12 91 L. HASLAM Kawasaki ZX-10RR 308,6
13 28 M. REITERBERGER BMW S1000 RR 308,6
14 36 L. MERCADO Kawasaki ZX-10RR 307,7
15 23 R. KIYONARI Honda CBR1000RR 306,8
16 76 L. BAZ Yamaha YZF R1 305,1
17 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Kawasaki ZX-10RR 303,4
18 81 J. TORRES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 301,7
19 9 D. SCHMITTER Yamaha YZF R1 300,0
20 52 A. DELBIANCO Honda CBR1000RR 297,5