Sunshiny Algarve threw up some interesting contenders during Friday’s World Superbike Championship practice session. I am guessing it was just SBK’s way of telling us not to take anything for granted! So what if we are almost at the halfway point of the season (Wait. What? How did we get here so fast? And why does the season always fly when we are having fun?) Lamentations aside, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea is still leading the championship despite teammate Tom Sykes’ phenomenal run at Donington Park with his third consecutive double win. So it was during Friday’s practice session that while the Kawasakis gave it all they had, it was the Ducati helmed by Davide Giugliano that led the time sheets. By the end of the two sessions, it was fast becoming obvious that Team Green could have some Italian power to deal with.
Aruba.It Racing’s Giugliano moved to the top of the timesheet at the end of the practice sessions with a lap time of 1.43.323s that he set during the last five minutes of the session. Behind him, Rea managed to improve his time but missed the fastest man title by 0.058s. Sykes took up the 3rd place on the time sheets with Giugliano’s teammate Chaz Davies grabbing 4th. It was most definitely two for two with Kawasaki and Ducati holding on to the top spots.
The closest contender for the championship, Leon Haslam only managed an 8th place for himself (the cracked ribs from his Imola crash can not be making this any easier). But cracked ribs or not, he can not be ignored. After all, Algarve is one of his stronger tracks. Rea said as much during the Friday press conference: “Another good day for us. Everyone in the team is working well and we were able to find a good setting almost immediately. Despite today being all about Kawasaki and Ducati, we cannot lose sight of our nearest rival in the points Leon Haslam. For sure he is nursing an injury but he is a fighter and he’ll be up there on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, in the world of World Supersports, the MV Agusta powered by Jules Cluzel gave championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu some serious heartburn, by just about managing to stay ahead of the Turkish rider. Cluzel’s FP1 timing of 1.46.005s was just about enough to stay ahead of the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider. Cluzel’s teammate Lorenzo Zanetti took the 3rd spot despite a late crash as the practice session neared closing.
It was obvious enough as the day came to a close that as far as races go it is all up in the air. Well, isn’t that how we like it? Racing with a touch of suspense thrown in. Keeps the adrenalin going doesn’t it?