In a session where eleven different riders took their turn at the top of the timing sheet, PJ Jacobsen came out on top with a 1'54.751 on his MV Agusta, over a second and a half off the outright lap record set by Jules Cluzel in 2015 but almost half a second quicker than anyone else today. Kyle Smith and Hikari Okubu on Hondas were second and third quickest ahead of Sheridan Morais on a Yamaha and Christian Gamarino on another Honda.
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Jonathan Rea was first out on track and set a laptime that only he could beat, setting the fastest lap five times throughout the session, with only Alex Lowes able to keep close. Rea also set the fastest speed, 313Km/h down the straight on the Kawasaki, equalled only by Eugene Laverty's Aprilia.
Chaz Davies suffered a mechanical problem five minutes into the session and he only registered one timed lap, over three seconds off the session's final pace. Xavi Fores was the fastest Ducati, over three tenths quicker than seventh-fastest Marco Melandri.
Race two had riders hiding from the heat before the race started, facing twenty laps with an air temperature of 37ºC. The revised grid, with yesterday’s winner in ninth place, should make more of a difference than it did at Phillip Island.
The second round without Kenan Sofuoglu and the riders have seventeen laps to take as many points as possible before the reigning champion returns. Overbearing heat and fast wildcards add to the usual challenges of World Supersport racing.
Kawasaki haven’t lost a World Superbike race since the track opened to international racing two years ago. Race one would be a hot twenty laps.
Superpole one had thirteen riders competing for two places. Federico Caricasulo and Michael Canducci were eleventh and twelfth fastest, making them favourites to qualify for Superpole two.
In the opening session, ten riders competed for two places, with Lorenzo Savadori and Stefan Bradl the two quickest Superpole one qualifiers in yesterday’s timed sessions. No Superpole tyres would be available in either session as their delivery was delayed.
PJ Jacobsen was quickest ahead of Kyle Smith and Decha Kraisart with Jules Cluzel one tenth of a second of Jacobsen's pace in fourth place. Alex Baldolini has been declared unfit after a crash in FP2 while Stefan Hill and Luke Stapleford have been withdrawn for technical reasons.
Jonathan Rea was the first rider under 1'33, beating his own lap records from two years ago. Chaz Davies was six tenths behind in this untimed session, holding off Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes.
With everyone in the top sixteen improving on their morning's times, Superpole qualifying was determined in this session and once again Kyle Smith was quickest, only wildcard Decha Kraisart and Lucas Mahias beat Jules Cluzel this time.
Once again, Jonathan Rea was quickest overall with only his Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes within a quarter of a second of him. Ducati's Chaz Davies was third quickest but was unable to beat Marco Melandri's morning time, ending up qualifying for Superpole in fourth place behind his teammate. Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores continue their strong pace, improving on their morning's times, rounding out the provisional second row.
Kyle Smith and Jules Cluzel put Honda at the top of the timing sheets ahead of local wildcard Decha Kraisart. Kraisart was quickest throughout most of the morning, leading the field for over half the session. Lucas Mahias and PJ Jacobsen were fourth and fifth quickest ahead of Hikari Okubo.
Jonathan Rea was quickest throughout most of the session and, leading until ten minutes from the end when Chaz Davies was the first rider under 1'34. As the session ended, both Rea and Davies's teammate Marco Melandri joined Davies under 1'34, pushing him to third place. Xavi Fores, Tom Sykes and Alex Lowes were fourth to sixth quickest, all within five hundredths of a second of one another.
Leon Camier had another wasted session, not registering a single lap as his bike spent the morning in its garage.
World Superbike race two is the first race to use the new-for-2017 reversed grid. The grid position is determined by a mix of where a rider qualified and where a rider finished in Saturday's race one. The front row is made up of the riders from fourth to sixth position, the second row is made of the riders from seventh to ninth position while the third row is the top three, the riders on the podium, only reversed, putting the winner in ninth place and the third placed rider seventh.
4 5 6 7 8 9 3 2 1
The fourth and subsequent rows are decided by where the rider qualified in Superpole, with anyone who qualified in the top nine who did not finish in the top nine pushed back to tenth place, and so on.
The opening race of the World Supersport series was not without incident as several riders crashed in isolated incidents in the first three laps and was stopped when Robin Mulhauser's Honda flipped end over end and deposited a touch of oil and carbon fibre shrapnel across the track. The race was cut down from fifteen to ten laps and the restart would use the Superpole grid as opposed to track position as too few laps were completed for anything to count. A quick restart procedure put a mechanic out with each rider but none of the usual fanfare or unnecessary latex clad brolly dollies.