Voltcom Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty wanted to leave the final World Superbike round in Qatar on a high, and he is definitely on course to do that, as he topped the second free practice sheets under the floodlights.
The Irishman was under lap record pace by nearly one second, and left it till his final rotation to clock his quickest time so far. Laverty lapped more times in the 1.58 than any other rider out on the desert track, and pushed Ducati’s Chaz Davies to second, followed by title contender, Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli.
Davies and Guintoli were both under the lap record, but the Powys-based resident was a tenth slower than the Suzuki of Laverty in the end. At first, in a repeat of the opening session it was Guintoli who was the first rider to set a hot lap with Rea, and the Voltcom Suzuki duo of Laverty and Lowes close behind.
After 15 minutes on the circuit the Frenchman set a 1’59.407, with Rea 0.2 seconds off the pace of the England-based racer. Rea was riding high inside the top three, but experienced a technical problem on turn one, with twenty minutes of track time remaining.
Baz was slowly making his way up the timing-screens and a 1’59.333 was enough to shove Guintoli down to second. Laverty was another rider who continued to improve his pace, and with 15 minutes left in the desert pushed his Suzuki up to third fastest.
Rea recovered from his earlier bike issue and made it back on the track and went straight back to the top, with Laverty matching his pace, but was one tenth too slow. Meanwhile Guintoli was having none of it and decided to muscle in on the Irish party, and went two tenths under lap record pace during the second outing, bettering the record set by Ben Spies back in 2009.
Smack bang on the three minute mark Davies propelled his Ducati right to the top of the sheets from his original place just outside the top ten, with a 1’58.583. But the Welshman’s joy was short lived as Laverty went even quicker, just as the chequered flag appeared.
The Pata Honda paring of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam both finished in the top five, with the Smalley rider gradually building up his speed throughout the 45 minute session. Baz ended the evening slipping back to sixth, followed by Lowes.
The Lincolnshire rider started off strongly but faded away, but still ended the second outing in a solid seventh on the screens with a 1’59.428. Title fighter and reigning champ, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was once again ninth on the sheets and could not better a 1’59.842, with Aprilia’s Marco Melandri rounded up the top ten.
Althea Racing’s Niccolo Canepa was the quickest Evo bike and even out-paced Sykes and Melandri, and finished FP2 in eighth on the timesheets.