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Navarra WorldSBK: Rea takes charge in FP1

Jonathan Rea led the way from his main title rivals after free practice one as the inaugural WorldSBK round at Navarra fired up in Spain.

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding sat second and third after the opening 45-minutes at the Los Arcos track, with the trio separated by just 0.164s.

The opening action at the northern Spanish track began as soon as the green lights allowed, with the whole pack utilising the maximum track time as they familiarised themselves with the new layout.


Andrea Locatelli led the way in the initial times, a 1’39.467 his opening target before the Yamaha man improved again, this time with a 1’38.9, Redding, Alex Lowes and Rea narrowly behind.

Garrett Gerloff joined the fun after 10-minutes on track, sitting third, before Lowes and Razgatlioglu headed the times in quick succession - 1’38.552 now the benchmark and just 0.012s separating the battling pair, with Rea now one-tenth off in third.

The Honda riders of Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista circulated in seventh and eight in the early stages, Chaz Davies slotting his Go Eleven Ducati between the pair before Bautista improved to sixth. While back out front Redding was finding his rhythm, improving the pace with an impressive 1’38.1.

The Ducati man was looking comfortable as the practice continued, fine-tuning his times one-tenth at a time as he racked up laps around the tricky 4km layout. Razgatlioglu and Lowes keeping him honest, albeit half-a-tenth adrift, with Rea and Locatelli rounding out the top-five at the halfway stage.

Davies sat sixth as the final 20-minutes counted down, Michael van der Mark the first of the BMW’s in ninth with teammate Tom Sykes closely behind. While Lucas Mahias returned to the pits after just seven laps of action, on his return from a fractured scaphoid injury.

The championship leader was on a charge with ’15 to go, claiming second with a 1’38.5 as Davies too advanced into the top-five. The Yamaha of Locatelli denying him the position on his 16th lap, just 0.052s off the leading pace.

The closing minutes saw the action ramp up. Rea, Redding and Razgatlioglu all staking their claims on the standings, the Northern Irishman holding out with a 1’37.747 and four minutes to go while his teammate sat in the pits.

Rea continued to advance as the clock clicked down, 1’37.629 now the time to beat with his title rivals adrift by one-tenth apiece as they settled for second and third. Gerloff claimed fourth from Locatelli and Davies, with Bautista making a last-lap charge for seventh at the flag. Sykes, Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Lowes completed the top-10 while Haslam dropped to 15th after a late-session fall.

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