With track action beginning just before dusk today and finishing with two completely dark sessions held under Losail’s impressive floodlight arrays, it was a challenging first day of contrasts for many riders. Even after a fast crash in FP1, Rea recovered in the second and third sessions and finally ended up second fastest overall, just 0.183 seconds from Eugene Laverty.
Sykes worked his way through his day in methodical fashion to finish third fastest overall, only 0.008 seconds from Rea. In his final weekend racing for the KRT squad Tom had made a strong start and aims to keep it going into race one, which starts at 19.00 on Friday the 26th of October.
The track surface at Losail was dusty to start but after a clean line developed as the day progressed the lap times gradually improved. All but one of the top ten riders set their fastest pace in the final FP3 session. A red flag and a short stoppage in FP2 interrupted the first fully dark practice session, but FP3 started and finished on schedule.
FP4 on Friday will be held in the heat of the day but the first race will take place in the relative cool of the evening, under full floodlights.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was also an automatic qualifier into Superpole 2, to be held on Friday afternoon. He was tenth today and just 0.731 seconds from the fastest time. He was the top independent rider on the opening day.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 11th, Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 15th and relatively new WorldSBK rider Gabriele Ruiu (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 16th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I feel if we could go racing now I could fight for the win. I changed direction a little bit too aggressively and had too much lean angle on the dirty part of the track in FP1, before there was a lot of rubber down, and it was a slight mistake on my behalf. The way I attack weekends and sessions means I always go fast in the first laps, and I felt good even on my out lap. I did not have the best feeling in FP2 and we are just missing those two or three set-up changes just to give us a bit more confidence. It looks like this weekend there are more competitive guys. Right now we are in the mix but we are not ahead of everybody. We are going to try to improve the set-up and we know the changes we want to make tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It is warm out there but I am feeling pretty good on the bike. We are there or thereabouts. I feel much stronger than last year. I think I have got my head around how to manage the engine a bit better at this circuit. I am happy with the performance and the first day has gone better for us, because normally I build for raceday. The boys have worked hard, we made a few little changes on the bike and tomorrow is another day. The first practice session on Friday is at 14.30 so if you change anything it is not going to give you the answer for the first race in the evening. I am hoping we can finish strongly for Kawasaki.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2018: Races 24, Wins 16, Podiums 21, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 70 (55 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 133 (91 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 24, Wins 1, Podiums 7, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 107 (106 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 47 (47 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 126 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 378 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 80 – second overall