Rea tops the time sheets in FP2 while misfortune hits Championship leader Bautista
It was a wet start to the Pirelli French Round with rain falling in both Free Practice session, with the track eventually drying up towards the end of each session. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) proved the mixed conditions were no issue in FP2, posting the fastest time of a 1’49.379 – with Motocorsa rider Axel Bassani a whole second behind in 2nd.
Rea was the only rider in FP2 to cross the line in the 1’49’s, explaining the day as ‘solid’.
Jonathan Rea: “I got caught out this morning after one lap, the rain came and I brought the bike in, so I didn’t register a lap time during the dry period, so all my day’s testing was in the wet. I felt quite OK with the bike, more so in the afternoon. This morning, I was really struggling with edge grip, but we addressed that in the afternoon, and I felt much better.”
“Also, in an area that we really struggled with in 2020 was when the track dried out. I really struggled to get off the first gear corners, with too much spinning an not enough forward momentum. I think we addressed that today. The end was not a dry track, but we were still making improvements in lap times.”
A rider who is said to be one of the most exciting prospects in WorldSBK, Italy’s Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) proved confident in wet conditions, finishing FP2 in 2nd posting a 1’50.407 – being the only rider (apart from Rea) to lap in the 1’50s. Bassani is currently sitting 7th in the overall standings on 115 points,
Axel Bassani: “I’m happy about today. It’s only Friday, we are in the top three in wet conditions, but also, I think in dry conditions, we have the possibility to do a good job. We will see tomorrow – the weather here at Magny-Cours is not easy to understand. For me, it’s the same – I am ready for everything.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) rounded out the top 3 standings in FP2 after a bag of mixed conditions. Lowes said in the following press conference that he felt strong on the bike, having been the fastest during the opening session. Lowes finished FP2 in third place but remains fastest in the combined timing after posting the fastest time in the very few dry laps available in FP1.
Alex Lowes: “The day has been a little bit strange with the weather. We haven’t managed too many laps this morning. We went on slick tyres, did three laps and it was starting to slip a little bit and the rain came down quite heavy. So, we put the wet settings in the bike and we finished the session with maybe seven laps. My feeling was good straight away. This afternoon, I was hoping it will be dry as it looks like the weather is going to improve as the weekend goes on. This afternoon, I tried a small change on the electronics to help the bike in the corner.”
Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fourth in the afternoon session, crashing out at Turn 15 in the trying conditions at hand. Bautista said that without the crash, he is confident he would have been faster, but overall explained he is happy with feeling of his Ducati Panigale V4R around the French circuit.
Alvaro Bautista: “It has not been an easy day. In the morning we started on dry tyres, but it was already raining. After two laps, it started to rain harder, so we had to switch to a rain set up. This track is a very particular track in the wet conditions; you have to work a lot on the electronics. So, for the afternoon, we were prepared for both wet and dry conditions. I improved my feeling with the electronics compared to the morning. I miss rear traction on the exit of the corner, we tried to improve the set-up of the bike and we found something. The feeling was also good in the wet, and we were quite fast. Without the crash, we would be even faster, but the most important thing is the feeling with the bike.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Broxx WorldSBK) was 10th in FP2, 3.159s slower than Rea. Reacting to today’s session, the Turkish rider said: “This morning, I felt much better in the wet conditions but in the afternoon, we tried a new setup but without improving the feeling. Saturday morning looks like it will rain, but we will see; anyway, it’s good to train in the wet because every day, I’m learning and improving my riding in these conditions.”
WorldSBK FP2 Results –
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’49.379s
- Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +1.028s
- Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) + 1.639s
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +1.739s
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +2.014s