Aruba Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista ended WorldSBK Friday practice with a three-tenth advantage over reigning champion Jonathan Rea as the pair were chased up the timesheets by a quartet of Yamaha R1s.
Bautista is well inside the lap record and the only man to drop under the 1’33s barrier as he set a 1’32.971with 20 minutes left to run this afternoon. Rea’s best - a 1’33.269 -came a few minutes later but the expected last-ditch time attack never materialised.
Current WorldSSP king Sandro Cortese led the Yamaha charge on his GRT R1, climbing to third with a 1’33.465 with four minutes left.
Bautista’s top speed advantage at the Buriram track is evident as he is seven kilometres per hour faster than Rea and five faster than Alex Lowes in fourth place - which over two very long straights is telling.
The Spaniard is very much in charge in sectors one and two but when it comes to the second half of the circuit, where there are corners, Bautista drops to third quickest in sector three and then down to sixth as they approach the line.
If Rea and the rest of the pack can find some speed in the Panigale V4’s slipstream, then it will be a lot closer than the timesheets suggest.
In terms of pace, Bautista put in ten 1’33s laps and his sole 1’32. Rea did exactly the same while Cortese did, erm, two. Lowes managed seven on the Pata Yamaha - his best of 1’33.550 enough to claim fourth on the combined sheets - while Michael van der Mark in fifth did four.
Marco Melandri ended up in sixth place on the second GRT bike and is six-tenths off the pace while Leon Haslam, on the sister KRT bike, is seventh with a best of 1’33.797 which he did twice on laps seven and eight.
Eugene Laverty jumped into sixth late on, setting a 1’33.961, but was pushed back to eighth while Leon Camier’s final run garnered ninth place on the Moriwaki Honda. Tom Sykes, who is also struggling for top speed, completed the top ten.
It’s again not good news for Chaz Davies, who finished 1.1s behind team-mate Bautista. The Welshman is able to find time in sectors one and two but it getting killed in three and four where he is 17th and 13th fastest respectively.
Top speed table
1 19 A. BAUTISTA Ducati Panigale V4 R 308,6
2 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale V4 R 304,2
3 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 303,4
4 99 T. WAROKORN Kawasaki ZX-10RR 302,5
5 91 L. HASLAM Kawasaki ZX-10RR 302,5
6 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 301,7
7 50 E. LAVERTY Ducati Panigale V4 R 300,0
8 23 R. KIYONARI Honda CBR1000RR 300,0
9 21 M. RINALDI Ducati Panigale V4 R 299,2
10 33 M. MELANDRI Yamaha YZF R1 297,5
11 2 L. CAMIER Honda CBR1000RR 296,7
12 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Kawasaki ZX-10RR 295,1
13 28 M. REITERBERGER BMW S1000 RR 295,1
14 11 S. CORTESE Yamaha YZF R1 295,1
15 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 295,1
16 66 T. SYKES BMW S1000 RR 294,3
17 36 L. MERCADO Kawasaki ZX-10RR 292,7
18 81 J. TORRES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 290,3
19 52 A. DELBIANCO Honda CBR1000RR 283,5