After a summer break lasting just over two months, the World Superbike Championship returned to action today, with the first three free practice sessions of the weekend from a sun-soaked Portimao Circuit, in Portugal.
Starting at 9.45am, the day began in much the same fashion as the first stint of the championship ended back in July, with Kawasaki Racing’s Jonathan Rea leading the field by 0.516 seconds with a lap time already inside the existing race lap record.
Laying down a marker of 1’41.817, he was followed home by MV Agusta’s Jordi Torres, with the second factory Kawasaki of Tom Sykes coming home 0.317 seconds behind him in third.
In the second session of the day, it was much the same story again, with the Rea again setting the best time, despite an off. With track temperatures increasing in the midday sun, the Kawasaki man could only manage a time of 1’42.183 on his ZX-10RR, 0.366 seconds slower than his first stint.
He was trailed by the pursuing Ducati Panigale R of Italian Marco Melandri, who was 0.388 seconds slower on his best time. Third was the Milwaukee Aprilia RSV4 RF of Lorenzo Savadori.
In the third and final session of the day, it was a changing of the guard at the top of the timings, with Melandri swapping places with Rea with a time of 1’42.003 – 0.363 seconds faster than the factory Kawasaki rider. Third was fellow Kawasaki rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu on his Puccetti Racing machine.
Fellow Ducati rider Chaz Davies and Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark both experienced offs in the session, with Davies' Panigale R momentarily catching light from its own leaked fluids, causing a red flag whilst it was cleaned up.
Below are the full combined results for the day:
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