Honda’s Iker Lecuona led the way at home as WorldSBK free practice fired up at Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday morning.
The Spaniard sat over half a second ahead of his nearest rivals after the opening 45-minutes at Montmeló with Aruba.it Ducati’s Michael Rinaldi and reigning champion Toprak Razgatlioglu rounding out the top three.
First practice in Barcelona saw KRT’s Alex Lowes half a second ahead of the pack as he headed the initial times with a 1’42.427. Teammate Jonathan Rea took over, three-tenths quicker next time around as Pata Yamaha’s Razgatlioglu slotted in between and Alvaro Bautista trailed the leading trio on the Aruba Ducati.
A strong start on home soil found Xavi Vierge circulating fifth from BMW’s Scott Redding with the second Honda of Lecuona in check. Rinaldi rising to second on the second Panigale after securing his future with the Bologna factory earlier in the week.
The Italian continued to shine as he took charge next time around with a 1’41.931. GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff up to seventh as Bautista improved to third. Go Eleven’s Philipp Oettl, Bonovo’s Loris Baz and Redding completing the top ten after ten minutes on track with Michael van der Mark was back in the BMW garage with a technical issue from 21st as the session unfolded. Hafizh Syahrin out of the running due to a chest infection with the MIE Honda rider set for review on Saturday.
French rivalry continued in Catalunya as Rea and Bautista bickered for position on track in the morning practice. The Ducati winning out in the times as he advanced to second a tenth off his teammate out front while Lecuona moved into the top four at the halfway stage.
The Honda rider was firmly in his groove as he topped the standings with ten minutes to go. Lecuona’s 1’41.396 a dominant half-second ahead of the Ducatis while progress for Yamaha saw Razgatlioglu promote the R1 to third with Andrea Locatelli doing likewise three places behind.
Eugene Laverty was into the top ten as the final five minutes got underway. The Bonovo rider setting a 1’42.688 on his way to ninth as Vierge circulated a tenth behind. Locatelli upping the pace in the opening sector before fading from the challenge as the lap played out. The chequered flag dropping with no further changes as practice start preparation began.