Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu was back on top for the opening free practice of the WorldSBK Motul Spanish round on Friday.
The Turk headed the session thanks to his 1’40.074 lap in the closing session ahead of an impressive Michael Ruben Rinaldi and the KRT pair of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes.
WorldSBK action got underway at Jerez with a few new faces in pitlane - or should that be returning. Eugene Laverty and Loris Baz stood in for the injured Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies at BMW and Go Eleven Ducati respectively - after a dramatic Catalunya outing - with Marvin Fritz and Andrea Mantovani also swelling the grid to 24 riders for this weekend.
The title challengers topped the times as the session fired up, Leon Haslam splitting Rea and Razgatlioglu as he propelled his Honda Fireblade into second with Scott Redding’s Ducati narrowly behind in fourth. The Kawasaki setting the early benchmark with a 1’40.599 after four laps on track.
Lowes was the next to strike as he took over from his KRT teammate by a mere 0.015s, despite his fractured hand, with both Rea and Razgatlioglu looking to challenge moments later. The pair sitting up as Andrea Locatelli dropped his Pata Yamaha at the opening corner, from ninth.
Rea was back on top with 20 minutes of the session remaining, and running one-tenth faster than is garage partner. Razgatlioglu trailing the KRT duo with Haslam and Redding still holding onto the top five. Locatelli was up to sixth after his early off, leading fellow Italian and Barcelona race winner Rinaldi with Michael van der Mark, Alvaro Bautista and Kawasaki’s Issac Vinales rounding out the top 10.
The Championship leader took charge in the closing 15 minutes as Razgatlioglu raised the bar with a 1’40.111. Fellow Yamaha rider Garrett Gerloff suffering opposing fortunes as he continued to struggle in 20th with returning riders Baz and Laverty sitting 14th and 17th as the session neared conclusion.
Rinaldi promoted himself to fourth with five minutes to go, as Axel Bassani entered the top 10 before the late charges shuffled the standings further. The Ducati duo’s rise continued as the first found third, before the latter hit seventh. The recent podium-sitter was demoted in the final stages as van der Mark and Locatelli hit sixth and seventh, Gerloff finding form in the closing minutes as he too entered the top nine. The rising star of FP1 was Rinaldi, however, as his final lap gifted the Ducati youngster second overall, just 0.086s behind the Yamaha’s refined 1’40.074 time and over three-tenths clear of Rea.