WSB: Sykes quickest despite Friday fall
The return from the WorldSBK championship's summer break did not last long without major drama arriving on the scene, after fastest man Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) uncharacteristically crashed out in FP2, and shortly after Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) suffered a major oil leak on his machine. Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) fell on the slippery track surface shortly after, with a belated red flag ending the session to allow the oil to be cleaned up. Bradl injured his elbow in his fall, but did not suffer a fracture.
Before the track action could get underway again a major rainstorm wiped out any chance of a quick return to hostilities. Even long after the rain had gone away the lack of drainage in key places - and the bumpy, rippled track surface - meant that standing water in some corners and drying surfaces in other places led to a long delay before the second hour of WorldSBK free practice was completed.
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Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) was second fastest and like his team-mate Sykes, he did not venture out on track in the damp final half hour.
The best Friday dry conditions saw Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) third quickest and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) fourth.
An early technical scare in the morning session made it a nervous re-start to the year for Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) but he got up to fifth before the oil and rain problems intervened.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) placed sixth, with one of rider Markus Reiterberger (Van Zon Remeha BMW) back in the WorldSBK paddock after being dropped from his Althea BMW team earlier in the year. His partial IDM-spec bike got him up to seventh, one place ahead of Leon Camier’s MV Agusta Reparto Corse F4.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Lowes completed the top ten riders who will automatically get into Superpole 2 on Saturday, whatever happens in FP3 on Saturday morning.
The WorldSBK second session eventually finished just after 17.00, instead of the scheduled 15.30.