WSB: Fores on top as Phillip Island test gets underway in mixed conditions
The WorldSBK Championship riders had a changeable day of testing action to negotiate as the final track sessions before the start of the season begins at the magnificent Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
Regular interruptions for rain abated to some degree in the afternoon, with a largely completely dry track only affected by some late - and light - sprinkles.
Xavi Fores scored the best time of the day, a 1’31.412, even after a late red flag caused by wild birds standing on the active track surface. A final red flag, with two minutes of the final sector remaining, halted the session with Fores out front - and only a tenth or so from the existing race lap record.
Reigning champion Rea was second overall, 0.411 seconds from the privateer Ducati runner. Marco Melandri was third and just over 0.8 seconds from Fores after a somewhat messy first day.
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Michael van der Mark pushed on to go fourth in what will be his first Yamaha season. Leon Camier set the fifth best time in a late shake-up of the running order; with former champion Tom Sykes completing a varied top six.
Early leader on the timesheets, Alex De Angelis was a strong privateer rider in seventh, ahead of serial race winner from 2016, Chaz Davies. Top Aprilia rider was Lorenzo Savadori and last man inside the top ten was the second Pata Yamaha rider on show today, Alex Lowes. The Honda duo of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl placed 11th and 12th and the top BMW rider proved to be Jordi Torres in 13th place. Eugene Laverty was 14th, while local wild card rider Josh Brookes was 16th.