WorldSBK Phillip Island: Rea reigns on day one

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea returned to the top of the WorldSBK timesheets on Friday afternoon as FP2 concluded at Phillip Island.

Rea’s final effort of the opening day provided a 1’31.127 lap to head the standings at the close of play from Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista and his KRT teammate Alex Lowes. Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu the sole rider not to improve on his morning time as he maintained fourth overall in the combined times.

Afternoon practice got off to a slow start after the red flag came out due to local wildlife on track. The session restarted with 38 minutes on the clock and Lowes back in charge from teammate Rea before Bautista retaliated with a 1’31.504. Tetsuta Nagashima continued to showcase his impressive stand-in rider performance as he circulated the Honda fifth in the standings, seven tenths shy of the session’s target and two tenths behind GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff as best of the rest.

Bautista advanced the time on his tenth revolution with a 1’31.399, the Spaniard still narrowly adrift of his morning best and two tenths down on Rea’s outright benchmark with the Northern Irishman improving to second in FP2 at the halfway stage.

Andrea Locatelli promoted the Pata Yamaha to fourth as the second half unfolded. His teammate down in seventh and a second off the pace as he worked on the R1’s set up ahead of the late session shootout with the Ducati trio of Philipp Oettl, Michael Rinaldo and Axel Bassani completing the top ten.

Razgatlioglu moved to fourth as Lowes fired up for a P1 worthy effort in the closing quarter. The final sector denying his promotion as he completed a 1’31.416 personal best to sit 0.003s behind Rea in second and third.

The final seven minutes saw the pace ignite with Bautista bettering the outright target thanks to a 1’31.232 before the Kawasaki’s attempted to hit back. Both Rea and Lowes running red opening sectors with the final layout denying the efforts until Rea matched his earlier time by 0.002s.

Improvements for Scott Redding saw the BMW up to eighth with three to go. Rea returning to overall command as the chequered flag prepared with a 1’31.127 after 26 laps of the island.

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