WorldSBK Catalunya: Bautista takes charge in FP2

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Picture: GeeBee Images Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista secured the WorldSBK FP2 standings at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday with a 1’42.018 lap.

With times down on the morning efforts, the championship leader was consistent in his front-running pace in the warmer conditions as he bettered KRT’s Jonathan Rea and Pata Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli by the smallest of margins - just 0.067s covering the top three.

Afternoon practice found Michael van der Mark back in the action after an engine issue on his BMW M1000RR sidelined him for the majority of the morning session. Namesake Michael Rinaldi placing Ducati back in the driving seat as the opening laps registered with Bautista in hot pursuit as they both circulated on 1’42.3 pace.

Rea sat third on the Kawasaki, a tenth adrift of his title rival, as the hotter temperatures reduced the available grip while Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani vied for his place in the headlines from fourth.

Bautista bettered his teammate after ten minutes on track as the number 19 raised the target with a 1’42.025 effort. Puccetti Kawasaki’s Lucas Mahias and Bonovo’s Eugene Laverty rounding out the top six at the halfway stage with Honda’s Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge either side of British duo Scott Redding and Alex Lowes.

Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu joined the front fight as his eighth lap of the afternoon placed him ahead of Rea, in third. Teammate Locatelli adrift of the top ten in the FP2 times before his advanced to seventh came at the expense of the second Northern Irishman. Vierge the next to charge as Honda continued to show the might of the Fireblade, as the Spaniard took his turn in the top three.

A crash for Kohta Nozane in the closing ten minute saw the GRT Yamaha down as Redding promoted the BMW up to seventh. Go Eleven’s Philipp Oettl doing likewise three places back as Laverty dipped out of the top ten.

Rea was in the runner-up position with a 1’42.058, just 0.033s shy of Bautista with five minutes left on the clock. Spots of rain registering in sector two ahed of the final push as the session counted down.

Lowes followed his teammate with a late effort on the second KRT machine. The Brit finding sixth three-tenths adrift of the FP2 target before his time was deleted and he dropped back to 14th. Locatelli finding better luck as his 1’42.085 stuck for third with Bautista consolidating his lead 0.067s ahead.

With times down on FP1, Lecuona remained in charge overall with Rinaldi and Razgatlioglu maintaining their advantage in the top three. Bautista the highest place rider to improve, from fourth.

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