Ducati’s in-form factory rider Chaz Davies continues to push his case to win his first world superbike race at Phillip Island, after setting the fastest time in today’s practice sessions ahead of the season’s opening race tomorrow.
Although the 30-year-old didn’t improve his best time in this afternoon’s second 60-minute outing, his earlier benchmark of 1min30.189secs was enough to see him remain on top and primed for Saturday’s 12.30pm Superpole qualifying.
Davies holds the current WorldSBK lap record (1:30.949) at Phillip Island, but a victory has proved to be elusive for the Welshman around the 4.445km circuit – even though he gave it a red-hot go in 2016 before crashing out on the last lap after a titanic battle with eventual world champion Jonathan Rea.
Rea (Kawasaki, 1:30.255), Xavi Fores (Ducati, 1:30.486), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki, 1:30.573), Marco Melandri (Ducati, 1:30.627) and Alex Lowes (Yamaha, 1:30.817) all remained in the same positions after FP2, although Melandri and Lowes both improved their best laps this afternoon – as did eight other riders on the 21-bike grid.
Meanwhile, Italian Lorenzo Savadori 1:30.847) rocketed from 13th to seventh in FP2 on his factory Aprilia, with Nicky Hayden (Honda, 1:31.099), Markus Reiterberger (BMW, 1:31.129) and Jordi Torres (BMW, 1:31.13) next in line.
The top 10 are seeded straight through to Superpole 2, joined by the two fastest riders from the preceding Superpole 1. The 12 riders in Superpole 2 will then battle it out for grid positions at the pointy end of the field ahead of the season-opening 22-lap race at 3:00pm.
Eugene Laverty (Aprilia, 1:31.287), Michael van der Mark (Yamaha, 1:31.351) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta, 1:31.351) are among the championship heavyweights who will attempt to progress from Superpole 1, reserved for the riders who completed today’s practice in positions 11-21.
Laverty is a proven Phillip Island performer, having won two WorldSBK races on the fast and flowing circuit, one behind Rea.
Aussie wildcard Josh Brookes (Yamaha, 1:31.973) struggled with top end speed and was 18th today, 1.784secs behind Davies.
Key Saturday Times
12.30pm – 1.10pm: Superpole qualifying for WorldSBK
3.00pm: WorldSBK Race one – 22 laps
The 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicks off at Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with the Yamaha Finance round from February 24-26, and is set to be a scorcher. Go to www.worldsbk.com.au for event information.
Tickets are available at the gate