WorldSBK Phillip Island: Rea sets the pace on Friday morning

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea headed the pace as practice for the 2022 WorldSBK season finale got underway at Phillip Island on Friday morning.

Ducati’s newly crowned champion Alvaro Bautista sat second, 0.022s shy of his former title rival with Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu once again completing the top three - the Turkish rider himself just 0.006s faster than KRT’s Alex Lowes with his final efforts.

Perfect conditions greeted the pack for FP1 with blue skies and late spring sunshine warming the track to mid-30’s temperatures while rain and much cooler conditions threatened for the remainder of the weekend. The final opening practice action of 2022 fired up with Suzuka Eight-hour winner Tetsuta Nagashima joining the field as a last round replacement for Honda’s Iker Lecuona after the Spaniard suffered an injury to his back one week ago in Indonesia.

Lowes led the initial times as the session bedded in with a 1’31.610 with Bautista and Rea the sole riders under the’32 barrier after ten minutes on track. Rea continued to fine tune the pace with his sixth lap of the morning as he bettered his teammate by a tenth of a second. GRT’s Garrett Gerloff heading fellow Yamaha of Razgatlioglu in the top five with GoEleven’s Phillip Oettl running sixth - despite the German discovering the island layout for the first time on Superbike machinery and requiring a fitness review at the close of the session following his own Mandalika crash.

Bautista took charge on the Aruba.it Ducati with half an hour to go. 1’31.306 now the time to beat with both Kawasaki’s igniting to the challenge before losing out in the final sectors. Andrea Locatelli pushed the second Pata Yamaha to seventh, 1.6s off the outright pace, with Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores, Bonovo BMW’s Loris Baz and Nagashima rounding out the top ten. The Frenchman suffering a turn four crash next time around as he pushed for more.

Xavi Vierge bettered his HRC teammate for tenth as the second half unfolded. Bautista the next to be claimed by Miller Corner as Razgatlioglu rose to fourth - a full second ahead of the rest of the pack.

Aruba’s Michael Rinaldi was on the move in the closing ten minutes with a 1’32.816 for seventh. Locatelli, Vierge and Fores having bettered the fallen Frenchman with Nagashima and Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani leading the remaining trio of BMW’s in the hands of Scott Redding, Eugene Laverty and Michael van der Mark.

Late session improvements found van der Mark and Redding up to 11th and 13th respectively, Baz splitting the pair but remaining in the garage as his M1000RR continued its repairs. Nagashima advanced to ninth as Rea better overall, a 1’31.284 leading the way by a mere 0.022s as the number 22 dropped to fourth following a move from Razgatlioglu. Locatelli claimed fifth from Gerloff, Oettl, Rinaldi and Nagashima with Vierge trailing his teammate by 0.01s to round out the top ten.

Click here for times