Bautista on top after day one at Jerez

It was back to familiar ways for World Superbike championship leader, Alvaro Bautista, who topped the combined times after both free practice sessions at Jerez.

Bautista set the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1.39.428, however it was a Pata Yamaha one-two in the first free practice session, with Michael Van Der Mark claiming top spot ahead of Alex Lowes

The fast flowing circuit was expected to suit the 2019 Yamaha bike, and both riders showed this was the case from the outset, with the pair consistently posting competitive lap times. 

Bautista led the majority of the session, with his race pace looking mightily impressive. But with less than ten minutes remaining, the Yamaha duo produced great laps to overhaul the home favorite. 

Marco Melandri who suffered one of his worse weekend’s at Imola in terms of results. However, he bounced back well to finish the session fourth, just ahead of Jonathan Rea.

It was a difficult first session for Kawasaki rider, Rae, who was six-tenths off the fastest time and four-tenths of championship rival, Bautista.

For Rea’s teammate, Leon Haslam, it was an inconsistent day, to say the least. The Brit was looking fast in bursts, but ultimately finished the day with a seventh and ninth place. 

Most of Haslam’s faster laps came in the process of following Van Der Mark and Bautista, so it remains to be seen how fast the Kawasaki rider really is. 

The standout rider from the first session was Michael Ruben-Rinaldi from the Barni racing team, who finished sixth and surprisingly ahead of factory rider and three-time winner at this circuit, Chaz Davies, who continuously struggled on his V4 Ducati and could only finish in eleventh.

There were no improvements from the Welshman in the afternoon session as he once again finished in eleventh place, which put him a staggering 1.2 seconds off teammate Bautista. 

Heading into Saturday’s Superpole and race one, it looks ominous for the field as Bautista’s race pace was the key takeaway from both sessions.

Image Credit: WorldSBK.com

However, the rider who looks to have the pace to challenge Bautista, is Dutch star Van Der Mark, who backed up his morning pace with the second fastest time in free practice two.

Defending champion, Rea, was able to close the gap in the afternoon but he still remains a few tenths away from Bautista and Van Der Mark.

It was a contrasting day for the Motorrad BMW team, with Tom Sykes having another positive day finishing ninth in the first session, before jumping up the order into fifth during free practice two. 

Meanwhile it was a disaster on the other side of the garage, as Markus Reiterberger missed the whole morning running due to mechanical issues and was playing catch up for the remainder of the day. 

Returning to the action this weekend was Loris Baz, who finished both sessions twelfth and thirteenth respectively. Baz looked fast and spent time in the top ten during both sessions, however his day came to a disappointing end when he crashed at turn four. 

The Ten Kate Racing Yamaha bike was completely destroyed, and brought out a red flag in the process, with eight minutes remaining, due to parts and debris being scattered along the track. The damage was extensive and it will be a battle for the team to get the bike out and ready for tomorrow. 

The action continues Saturday with FP3 at 8:00, followed by Superpole at 10:00 and race one at 13:00. 

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