Italian Lorenzo Savadori has turned the WorldSBK form guide on its head by slotting his Aprilia into top spot during practice for round one of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The 24-year-old set his fastest lap (1m30.407) in the second of today’s three timed practice sessions in the Yamaha Finance round. No one was able to best that time in FP3 as the scramble to finish the day inside the top 10 – guaranteeing entry into the all-important Superpole 2 qualifying session tomorrow afternoon – intensified.
It was a remarkable turnaround in form for Savadori, who could only manage the 10th fastest time in the two-day WorldSBK test at Phillip Island earlier this week.
Today it all came together though, as it took his place as boss cocky ahead of Leon Camier (Honda, 1:30.722), Eugene Laverty (Aprilia, 1:30.746), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki, 1:30.882), Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki, 1:30.972), Marco Melandri (Ducati, 1:30.973), Michael van der Mark (Yamaha, 1:31.114), Xavi Fores (Ducati, 1:31.225), Chaz Davies (Ducati, 1:31.515) and Alex Lowes (Yamaha, 1:31.516).
Laverty was also the fastest down the main chute today, with a top speed of 314km/h on his booming Aprilia V-four.
After crashing in FP2, Lowes was the one with the most work ahead of him in FP3, and he just succeeded in sneaking into the top 10 at the expense of American Jake Gagne (Honda, 1:31.689), whose momentum was stalled because of a crash.
As well as Lowes, Rea, Fores, Davies, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta) and Aussie wildcard Daniel Falzon (Yamaha) also set their fastest laps of the day in FP3 – Rea on his last flying lap.
Falzon wrapped up the 120 minutes of WorldSBK day one action in 21st, with the other local wild cards Troy Herfoss (Honda) and Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha) immediately ahead of him.
Attention now turns to FP4 at 9:40am tomorrow, which is an ‘untimed’ session where the riders can finalise their strategies ahead of race one.
Then it’s onto Superpole qualifying at 12:30pm, where the WorldSBK riders who finished FP1 to FP3 in positions 11-22 go out first in Superpole 1. The top two from Superpole 1 then join the top 10 from FP1 to FP3 in Superpole 2.
The final results from Superpole 2 determine grid positions 1-12 for race one, and the final results from Superpole 1 determine positions 13-22.
The opening 22-lap WorldSBK race will be held at 3:00pm tomorrow; with the second battle at 3pm Sunday.
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