Pata Honda’s Michael Van Der Mark was consistently on the pace and was the only rider to lap inside the 2.02 bracket, during the first World Supersport free practice outing in Qatar.
But the 2014 champion had to contend with charges from his team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti and Kawasaki’s Intermoto’s Florian Marino. Both riders were nearly one second off a 2’02.872, which was the best lap set by Van Der Mark.
The Dutchman was three tenths off lap record pace, but at first it was CIA Insurance Honda’s Jack Kennedy who headed the timesheets with a 2’05.943 after ten minutes out on the dark track. But then Cluzel went eight tenths faster shortly after.
During that time former MCE British Superbike rider, PJ Jacobsen crashed unhurt at turn 15. The new World Supersport champ was biding his time and when there was only 15 minutes left to the session darted straight to the top of the sheets, with a 2’03.726.
Hot on his heels was the former triple champ, Kenan Sofuoglu. The Turkish rider was edging ever closer to the Dutchman but was pushed back down the pecking order with Cluzel, Marino and Zanetti all going faster.
When the chequered flag appeared Sofuoglu slipped back down to fifth. Kennedy could not re-gain his earlier fast pace and slipped back down to eighth – with a 2’04.214. DMC Panavto-Yamaha’s Kev Coghlan could not manage to get inside the top ten and finished the first free practice in twelfth, with his best lap of a 2’04.515.
BSB series regular Mason Law, on board his Intermoto Ponyexpres backed Kawasaki finished the afternoon in 18th, after a 2’06.210.