WSB Thailand: Bautista from Rea after Friday practice

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Alvaro Bautista continued to set the WSB pace after posting the fastest time on the opening day of the Thai round of the championship. Onboard the Aruba Ducati V4, the 34 year old Spaniard, who has experience of the Buriram track from MotoGP, topped FP1 with a time of 1:33.089. With the fast straights at the beginning of the lap playing into the strengths of his powerful V4 Ducati, he upped the pace in FP2 to become the only man in the 1.32’s with a best time of 1:32.971.

He said: “It’s only Friday, but I’m quite happy because the most important thing was to confirm our potential on a track that is different from Australia. This morning I started to understand the track and the reference markers, which are a little bit different from the MotoGP bike, so I needed some laps to adapt. Then I just worked on the bike settings without making any big changes, just some adjustments for the set-up on this track. In the afternoon we tried a different type of rear tyre to see what the new compound was like. There were positives and negatives, so we still have to decide for the race tomorrow.”

Second place went to four time and reigning WSB champion, Jonathan Rea with the Kawasaki rider ending both sessions second fastest and 0.298s behind pace setter, Bautista. Rea has won four out of the last six races at the Buriram circuit and already looks well placed to take the fight to Bautista at a track that suits him more than the opening round at Phillip Island.

He said: “We were building into it this morning and we got off to a good start. Step-by-step we improved the bike and were getting into a rhythm in that second free practice session, where we started to make some steps with set-up. I wanted to do a consistent long run but we had to confirm which tyre we will use for tomorrow, at the front and the rear. In some areas of this track I also want to improve my braking. We found some positives in all that so - putting it together - I felt pretty good out there. We can look at the finer details tonight but already we are on the way.”

Although unable to challenge for the top position it was a strong day for Yamaha who’s bikes filled the next four positions. Surprise fastest was WSB rookie Sandro Cortese in third who has no previous experience of riding a Superbike at the Thai circuit. He was followed by official Yamaha men Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark in fourth and fifth, who both secured podiums at the circuit 12 months ago. Sixth fastest was Italian Marco Melandri with just 0.159s separating the four Yamaha’s.

Reigning BSB champion Leon Haslam claimed seventh 0.826s off Bautista’s best with Ducati mounted Eugene Laverty, Honda rider Leon Camier and BMW’s Tom Sykes rounding out the top ten.

WSB Thailand Friday combined times

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider