Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea set the fastest WorldSBK lap of the Circuito de Jerez on Friday, a 1’39.671, to steal the show in the closing stages.
Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi added to his impressive morning run with another stellar second position in the afternoon session, while Leon Haslam hustled hard on the Honda for third.
Friday’s final practice saw Jonathan Rea back in the hot seat as the first flying laps came in. The Kawasaki holding court with a 1’40.107 from Leon Haslam and Andrea Locatelli with Alvaro Bautista and Alex Lowes backing up the strength of the leading two machines in fourth and fifth.
The Honda performance continued to impress as the Spaniard joined his teammate in the top three, with his fourth lap. Two-tenths splitting the pair with a similar gap to the six-time champion out front.
Aruba.it Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Scott Redding circulated together in sixth and seventh after 10 minutes on track before the youngster rose to fourth with his next effort. Toprak Razgatlioglu starting his afternoon action from eighth - albeit so far unchallenged in the overall times - ahead of last year’s team-mate Michael van der Mark and fellow Yamaha Garret Gerloff.
Eugene Laverty sat 11th on his BMW return, three-tenths behind his garage mate for the weekend, with Issac Vinales running identical pace after six laps. Christophe Ponsson headed a trio of Frenchmen, as Lucas Mahias and Loris Baz trailed him in the top 15, before he crashed out at turn one.
Redding was making moves with half an hour to go as he advanced to fourth with a 1’40.5. Lowes capturing the position with his seventh lap, as he set a time just 0.024s from Haslam in second. Razgatlioglu dropping the Ducati further as he made his way to fifth.
Half a second covered the top eight at the halfway stage, with Rinaldi returning to challenge the pace, in second, just six-hundredths adrift.
With the pack concentrating on race-runs across the mid-session, times remained static until the closing stages. Rinaldi topping the times with a 1’40.070 to sit fastest overall, by a minuscule 0.004s, with 13 minutes left to run.
A dramatic crash saw Bautista slide out at turn 11 while on course for a personal best lap, the Honda barrel rolling through the gravel with five minutes to go. Rinaldi looking to better his own benchmark before falling short in the final sector, as Rea became the first rider inside the 1’40 barrier moments later.
Rea took the session, and the day, thanks to his penultimate 1’39.671 lap from Rinaldi and Haslam, with Redding beating Bautista and Lowes in the dying seconds for top six honours. Razgatlioglu completing Friday in Jerez from seventh in the session, and third overall.