2016 Sepang SBK Friday Recap
Two weeks ago, the 2016 World Superbike Championship completed round five at Italy’s Imola where Ducati Team’s Chaz Davies doubled before his brand’s home crowd.
But the action moves to Sepang International Circuit, where the 23-rider grid had its first taste of the newly repaved 3.4-mile Malaysian circuit containing 15 corners. During the first free practice Friday, times were nearly 10 seconds off the 2014 Best Lap set by that year’s WSBK Champion, Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia, 2:03.002).
But once the spec-Pirelli tires were up to temp and riders tuned their respective machines and minds for the track that now has some changes to cambers, the times dropped. When the 45-minute FP1 sessions was complete, 2013 SBK Champion Tom Sykes was quickest with a best lap 2:05.613, the Brit leading his teammate and reigning Champ Jonathan Rea by 0.097 of a second.
Earning third and fourth in FP1 were the Honda World Superbike duo of Nicky Hayden – the sole American in the series – and Michael van der Mark, respectively.
But things changed drastically during the second 45-minute free practice session when three rookies earned the provisional front row. The session began dry, but a rain shower ceased sessions for a bit. Typical of Malaysia, the rain stopped and riders were able to quickly get back up to speed.
Ioda Racing Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori topped the FP2 time sheets with a last-lap effort to post a 2:03.951, beating 2006 MotoGP Champion Hayden by 0.216 of a second. Earning the third quickest spot – 0.288 of a second behind Savadori – was Althea BMW’s Markus Reiterberger.
Following his time, Savadori said “I’m very happy. I rode (Sepang) six years ago with a 125, but it’s all new to me. But Ioda and Aprilia got me up to speed. Now me and the team are focused Saturday’s sessions.”
Hayden has much MotoGP experience at Sepang, which surely helped the rookie World SBK rider achieve the second overall spot aboard the CBR1000RR SP Fireblade.
“We started off very well this morning, the bike felt great immediately and it was moving less off line in a lot of places. The team did a great job today, as every little tweak we made was in the right direction, even though the bike set-up didn’t really need any major change,” Hayden says.
“It would have been nice to be the fastest, but at the end it’s only Friday. Regardless, we did some good laps and the long run we did in the second session went well. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, because we have a relatively short morning practice and another short qualifying session tomorrow before race one.”
As for the German Reiterberger, he opened up FP2 with the quickest times aboard his S1000RR, but couldn’t keep the pace of Hayden and Savadori.
“I’ve had a really good day and have really enjoyed riding my BMW here. In session one I carried out some useful tests and was able to improve a lot from the first to the second session. In the second practice, with new tires, I was up at the front for a while and then I also made a long-run,” Reiterberger says.
“It started to rain a little mid-session but that soon stopped so in the last ten minutes everyone went back out to improve their times. I’m pleased with third, but also a little disappointed because I know I could have done a faster lap but I had a small problem during my fast lap and then came across traffic on the next one. But third is a good start and I’m feeling very confident for tomorrow.”
Earning the top of the provisional second row was Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes, who trailed Savadori by 0.311 of a second. Lowes finished ahead of Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Davide Giugliano (-0.344) and Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres (-0.361).
Rounding out the top 10 were the other factory Ducati 1199 R pilot, Davies, Pedercini Racing Kawasaki’s Anthony West (substitute for injured Sylvain Barrier) and Rea. As for Sykes, he finished 11th, and was the final rider to post within a second of Savadori.
The final free practice begins at 10:45 a.m. local time Saturday ahead of Superpole at 1:30 p.m. and race 1 at 4 p.m.
2016 Sepang World SBK Friday Free Practice Results, Overall
|1||Lorenzo Savadori||32||ITA||IodaRacing Team||Aprilia||2’03.951|
|2||Nicky Hayden||69||USA||Honda WorldSBK||Honda||+0.216|
|3||Markus Reiterberger||21||GER||Althea BMW Racing Team||BMW||+0.288|
|4||Alex Lowes||22||GBR||Pata Yamaha||Yamaha||+0,311|
|5||Davide Giugliano||34||ITA||Aruba.it Racing||Ducati||+0.344|
|6||Jordi Torres||81||SPA||Althea BMW Racing Team||BMW||+0.361|
|7||Michael van der Mark||60||NDL||Honda WorldSBK||Honda||+0.434|
|8||Chaz Davies||7||GBR||Aruba.it Racing||Ducati||+0.527|
|9||Anthony West||13||AUS||Team Pedercini||Honda||+0.792|
|10||Jonathan Rea||65||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki||+0.796|
|11||Tom Sykes||66||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki||+0.797|
|12||Alex De Angelis||15||RSM||IodaRacing Team||Aprilia||+1.202|
|13||Luca Scassa||99||ITA||Aruba.it Racing||Ducati||+1.578|
|14||Xavi Fores||12||SPA||BARNI Racing Team||Ducati||+1.674|
|15||Karel Abraham||17||CZE||Milwaukee BMW||BMW||+1.938|
|16||Leon Camier||2||GBR||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||MV Agusta||+1.981|
|17||Joshua Brookes||25||AUS||Milwaukee BMW||BMW||+2.994|
|18||Joshua Hook||16||AUS||Grillini Racing Team||Kawasaki||+3.438|
|19||Gianluca Vizziello||4||ITA||Team Go Eleven||Kawasaki||+4.094|
|20||Dominic Schmitter||9||SWI||Grillini Racing Team||Kawasaki||+4.910|
|21||Pawel Szkopek||119||POL||Team Toth||Yamaha||+5.814|
|22||Imre Toth||10||HUN||Team Toth||Yamaha||+6.029|
|23||Saeed Al Sulaiti||11||QAT||Team Pedercini||Kawasaki||+6.665|