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2016 Sepang SBK Friday Recap

Sepang World SBK Friday Practice | Rookie 1-2-3 led by Lorenzo Savadori
Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori

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.

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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.

Sepang World SBK Friday Practice Honda's Nicky Hayden
Honda’s Nicky Hayden

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.

Sepang World SBK Friday Practice BMW's Markus Reiterberger
BMW’s Markus Reiterberger

“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

# Rider Num Nat. Team Constructor Time/Gap
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

2016 Sepang World SBK Friday Photo Gallery