The first day of action in the final round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship saw Jonathan Rea set the fastest lap time and Tom Sykes finish up third quickest at the Losail International Circuit. Action got underway on Thursday, not the more usual Friday, with the races to be held on Friday and Saturday.
After two sessions under the floodlights at the 5.380km circuit in the Gulf state of Qatar Rea was 0.259 seconds ahead of the second placed rider Alex Lowes.
The Qatar event is a popular one with the riders and teams, partly due to the schedule which sees the practice sessions races held in the relative cool of the evening. Rea is a particular fan and made the most of his two hour long sessions on track, trying out some chassis settings to be ready for the first race of the weekend, to be held on Friday night at 21.00.
Sykes, who carried a throat infection into the Losail weekend, started off the day in second place with only Rea ahead in FP1. Just before his bike experienced a technical issue in FP2, Sykes had improved his best lap time and ended the day third overall.
Both KRT riders will now make their final race preparations in the 25-minute long FP3 session on Friday, before Superpole 2 and then the first of two 17-lap races. The second will take place on Saturday, at the same starting time of 21.00.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Today went OK and I really enjoyed it. I just like this race meeting. The circuit is very nice, it has got a lot of challenges and riding under the light does not take much getting used to, but it is just different and exciting. We changed the balance of the bike quite a lot today, in the first session and between sessions, just searching for that last little bit of front stability. I was jumping between my normal race tyre and the SC2 to understand the front stability. We now need to analyse a few compromises. All-in-all I feel quite positive about today. FP3 will be important session for us tomorrow because so many riders are close in their pace.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We have found good speed today and finished in third place after improving our best time in the second session. The surface was not fantastic and I had expected some big improvements from the first session. I was happy and the performance of the bike, which has been good, but in FP2 it had a problem. It was such a shame because we lost some track time. There were two little set up things we wanted to try in preparation for tomorrow. The engine in the bike was being changed tonight anyway and we are already fairly well prepared for the race. I just wanted to do a little bit more fine tuning. Tyre selection is very clear for me.”
2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2017: Races 24, Wins 14, Podiums 22, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 52 (37 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 110 (68 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 13 (9 For Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 22, Wins 2, Podiums 16, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 100 (99 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 42 (42 For Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 107 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 346 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 72 – second overall