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WorldSBK Phillip Island: Bautista sets the pace for FP1

Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista kicked his WorldSBK title defence off to the best possible start at Phillip Island by setting the outright pace in Friday’s FP1.

The Spaniard’s 1’31.032 effort held off challenges from Pata Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli and Honda’s Iker Lecuona after the first official 45 minutes on track in Australia with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Bologna teammate Michael Rinaldi locking out the top five.

Lecuona began Friday practice with the initial pace to beat, a 1’31.129 seeing the pack closing in on their previous testing best from the opening efforts with KRT teammates Rea and Alex Lowes the next in line.


Early laps found GRT Yamaha’s Remy Gardner running top five as the local rookie made his debut on home soil before Pata’s factory pairing of Andrea Locatelli and Toprak Razgatlioglu made their presence felt from second and fifth respectively. Reigning champion Bautista demoting the Italian with his first hot effort on the V4R before taking charge overall two laps later with a 1’31.032.

Scott Redding claimed fastest BMW honours after 15 minutes on track albeit narrowly outside the top ten. Rokit teammate Michael van der Mark just half a tenth behind for 11th and 12th with rookies Lorenzo Baldassarri on the GMT94 R1 and Barni Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci holding off Bonovo’s Loris Baz in the top 15.

Mid-session off-track excursions found van der Mark down at turn six with Gardner thought the turn two gravel trap as the final quarter of an hour prepared. Locatelli returned to second, just 0.012s shy of Bautista as the session wound down, with the Dutchman recovering well to fifth overall before Rinaldi relegated him one position on the second Aruba Panigale.

Three to go and Lecuona looked to be mounting a charge before a moment derailed his P1-worthy effort, the Honda rider pushing on again next time around only to find the front end fold through turn ten with two minutes left to run.

The chequered flag declared Bautista in charge from Locatelli and Lecuona with Rea and Rinaldi completing the fastest five. Van der Mark, Lowes, Razgatlioglu, GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl and Gardner rounded out the top ten from GRT teammate Dominique Aegerter and Redding in 12th.

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