World Superbike: Eugene Laverty Leads FP3 In Qatar

World Superbike: Eugene Laverty Leads FP3 In Qatar

© 2018, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

Motul FIM Superbike World Championship

Losail International Circuit

Doha, Qatar

October 25, 2018

Free Practice Three Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Eugene Laverty, Ireland (Apr RSV4 RF), 1:57.323

2. Jonathan Rea, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:57.506

3. Tom Sykes, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:57.514

4. Lorenzo Savadori, Italy (Apr RSV4 RF), 1:57.799

5. Loris Baz, France (BMW S1000RR), 1:57.922

6. Marco Melandri, Italy (Duc Panigale R), 1:57.924

7. Michael Van Der Mark, Netherlands (Yam YZF-R1), 1:57.980

8. Chaz Davies, UK (Duc Panigale R), 1:58.046

9. Toprak Razgatlioglu, Turkey (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:58.054

10. Alex Lowes, UK (Yam YZF-R1), 1:58.166

11. Leandro Mercado, Argentina (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:58.173

12. Xavi Fores, Spain (Duc Panigale R), 1:58.312

13. Jake Gagne, USA (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:58.556

14. Leon Camier, UK (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:59.214

15. Roman Ramos, Spain (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:59.785

16. Gabriele Ruiu, Italy (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:59.951

17. Maximillian Scheib, Chile (MV Agusta F4 RC), 2:00.505

18. Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic (Yam YZF-R1), no lap time recorded, declared unfit to race

More, from a press release issued by Dorna WSBK Press Office:

#QatarWorldSBK Day 1: Laverty steals the spotlight in Qatar FP3

Milwaukee Aprilia rider pips ahead of both KRT riders in final session

Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) completed a brilliant first day at Losail International Circuit, taking first position in the combined Free Practice timesheets. The final round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship gets underway in Qatar with the Irish rider showing his full potential, having managed to beat both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the final minutes of FP3.

Both KRT riders had finished outside the top two in the second session and returned to the track determined to recover their advantage under the Qatari floodlights. First it was Sykes who moved into the lead inside the opening ten minutes; Rea followed fifteen minutes later, inching ahead by just 30 thousandths of a second.

Sykes would tighten the gap further in the dying stages of FP3 to just eight thousandths of a second. But it was Laverty who managed to steal the top spot one minute before the chequered flag came down, setting a fastest lap of 1’57.323, nearly two tenths of a second faster than the two ZX-10RRs. After also topping FP1 and getting pipped to P1 by just 0.025 seconds in FP2, the Irishman seems set to leave his mark on the final round of 2018.

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) completed the front quartet, although he was unable to improve upon his best FP2 time. Topping the second session earlier in the evening, the Englishman seems set to end his season on a high at Losail.

Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was fifth fastest on Thursday, moving inside the top spots at the end of the third practice. He moves into tomorrow’s Superpole 2 ahead of Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team), sixth fastest in Qatar.

In the final round of the Panigale R before its four-cylinder brother arrives next season, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was only able to finish seventh fastest, with teammate Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in ninth and Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) twelfth in the other red machine, with the independent riders champion forced to battle his way through Superpole 1 on Friday.

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) seemed destined for that first qualifying shootout after crashing in FP1 and struggling through FP2 and most of FP3; however the Dutchman found some late form in the closing session and recorded the eighth fastest time for the day.

Closing the top ten for Free Practice was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), the Turkish rider extending his good momentum into the Pirelli Qatar Round as the top independent rider on Thursday. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) however fell just short of the Superpole 2 positions in eleventh, as did both Red Bull Honda World Superbike riders (Jake Gagne 13th, Leon Camier 14th).

That’s a wrap for today, but there’s plenty more coming tomorrow! Tune in for the final Superpole sessions of the year at 16:30 local time (13:30 GMT).

More, from a press release issued by Gulf Althea BMW Racing:

Positive first day for Baz on track at Losail

Doha (Qatar), Thursday 25 October 2018

The thirteenth and final round of the 2018 Superbike World Championship got underway today, the Gulf Althea BMW Racing Team and rider Loris Baz out on track at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the first timed practice sessions.

Contrary to other Superbike events, the track sessions at Losail take place in the late afternoon and evening, under the circuit’s powerful floodlights. The first practice session got started at 4.20pm local time, Baz keen to get out on track and start work to adapt his BMW S 1000 RR to the Qatari track. After the first 40 minutes, the Frenchman had set a fastest time of 2’00.409, positioning tenth as a result.

Back on track for second practice, the Italian team continued its work, the rider lowering his time by half a second in the initial stages, and by another second later in the session. His fastest lap, completed in 1’58.453, saw him close in seventh place.

Making further improvement during the final timed practice, the French rider rounded out day one in sixth position, thanks to a fastest time of 1’57.922. As a result, he will take part in tomorrow’s Superpole2.

Loris Baz:

“A pretty good day. I like this track and was sure it would suit the bike quite well, as there are no slow corners. Things went well, despite the track being very dirty earlier on. FP3 was positive and we finished sixth, one of the best day one results of the season, though I’m not really happy with our pace yet. It’s good to be straight through to Superpole2 anyway, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Rea And Sykes Second And Third

The first day of practice for the 13th and final round of the WorldSBK season ended up with KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes second and third fastest respectively, easily qualifying automatically for Superpole 2 on Friday the 26th of October.

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.”

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull Honda:

Gagne and Camier Prepare to Fight Back in Race 1

Qatar Round

Losail International Circuit, Qatar

A bruising day for the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team in Qatar, as both riders look ahead to Superpole and Race 1.

Free Practice 1 started as the sun went down over the Losail International Circuit, creating a scene like no other on the WorldSBK calendar. Times steadily improved during the session as more and more running went on. Jake Gagne fell foul of the dusty circuit, running wide and falling but did still manage to end the session in seventh, two tenths back on team-mate Leon Camier in fourth.

The British rider was an unfortunate victim of a heavy fall at Turn 5 early in Free Practice 2. Despite Camier escaping major injury, he was unable to head back out in the session as his team repaired his machine.

Both riders put in their best lap times of the weekend so far in Free Practice 3, Jake Gagne again challenging for the top ten and a trip directly into Superpole 2. Times were tight and the American ended the opening day of practice in Qatar as the 13th fastest rider. Camier finished just a place behind in 14th, improving his time by half a second. Both are aiming to head through Superpole 1 and battle for a top twelve position on the grid from Race 1.

Free Practice 4 opens tomorrow’s action at 1425 Local Time (GMT +3) before Superpole at 1630 with the racing action starting at 1900 Local Time for the penultimate time in 2018.

Jake Gagne 45

It was a little fall today. Unfortunately I was a little bit wide early on so there was still some dirt on the track. I shouldn’t have held the brake on that long when I knew I was on the dirt. We started the day strong and then spent the second session experimenting a little bit, trying to figure out the setting and what tyres and what to run. Then we made more progress in that last session with the direction but I went around by myself and just got consistent laps. I didn’t really get a good flyer together unfortunately, we could have been there and the bike was certainly capable. Superpole 1 tomorrow, hopefully we can get some laps in to get into Superpole 2, which is still the goal.

Leon Camier 2

I’m alright, nothing too serious. A little bit sore after a big high side but no major worries. It was a real up and down day, we started fourth and I knew there was a lot still to come with the track. We’ve made steps but we are still looking for that one big step to go faster. Tomorrow we’re having a look at everything to try and find that speed. We were really strong early in the year and there were some changes and we haven’t been able to consistently find that speed again.

Kervin Bos

Team Manager

Both riders are OK after their crashes. Jake’s fall was quite small and most importantly he didn’t lose any of his confidence and he was able to be back on the pace straight away. Jake did a good job today and the team tried something a little bit different, getting some good information. I think Jake can make a good step tomorrow and will hopefully be fighting for Superpole 2 as that still remains the goal for the end of this year. It was a hard day in the office for Leon. FP1 was good but then he had a huge off in FP2 at Turn 5 and then the feeling with the bike wasn’t there in FP3. We need to have a look at the setting before the crash and come back stronger tomorrow.

More, from a press release issued by Aruba.it Racing Ducati:

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team back in action in Qatar: Melandri 7th and Davies 9th in Friday’s free-practice

With 12 rounds in the books, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team started today the final act of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, which is held under the floodlights at Losail (Qatar), the only track on the calendar to host night races. After three free-practice sessions, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies are respectively seventh and ninth in the provisional rankings, and both will go directly into Superpole 2 tomorrow.

Melandri, after starting off with the right foot in FP1, focused his work on improving grip in a track that is historically difficult under this aspect due to its proximity with the desert. The Italian took a second and a half off his best time through the day and finished with a 1:57.924, +0.601 seconds from the top. Davies also centered his program on finding more grip, progressively improving his performance to finish just behind his teammate in ninth position (+0.763).

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action on Friday, October 26th, at 14:25 local time (CET +1) for one last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, scheduled to start respectively at 16:30 and 19:00.

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 1:57.924 (7th)

“We worked hard together with the team, but unfortunately the start of our campaign has been a bit more difficult than what we expected. Today we struggled a bit, both with braking and corner speed, which penalized us a bit more compared with our rivals. Unfortunately, the track didn’t improve as much as we expected throughout the day. Tomorrow, our priority will be to improve under braking. I don’t expect an easy race, but we won’t give up for sure.”

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 1:58.046 (9th)

“We’re not there yet, but we’re also not as far as what it looks like on paper. Here in Qatar, the track is always a bit dirty and dusty when we first start but, as tarmac conditions improved through the sessions, so did we. Perhaps our setup is better suited for conditions with more grip but, towards the end, I was starting to push a bit harder and the Panigale R responded well. Tomorrow the track will be cleaner, which will help us a lot, but we’ll also need to focus on turning. We’ve been struggling a little bit in this aspect in the fastest parts of the track and I want to get off the side of the tire a bit quicker. We’ve been improving, but we want to make a bigger step ahead of the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Milwaukee Aprilia:

Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty fastest in the desert with team mate Savadori P5.

Losail International Circuit 25 / 10 / 2018

Free Practice Report #QatarWorldSBK

Coming into the final round of the year Milwaukee Aprilia duo Laverty and Savadori are aiming to finish the season on a high. Eugene made his intentions clear placing P1 in Free Practice and Lorenzo respectively in P5.

From the off Eugene had fast pace and topped almost every session posting a fastest 1’57.323 in the FP3, -0.183 ahead of champion Rea.

Savadori didn’t have the best start to FP1 and was circling sub 2 minute laps but come FP3 he was able to lap a 1’57.799 just +0.5 behind provisional pole sitter Laverty.

With both riders having good pace they look set to offer a serious challenge to the front end of the grid for points on Friday and Saturday.

Free Practice 4 at #QatarWorldSBK takes place on Friday 25th October at 14:25 local time (GMT +3), ahead of Superpole at 16:30 and Race 1 at 19:00.

Eugene Laverty #50 – Aprilia RSV4-RF

FP1: 1’58.527 – P1

FP2: 1’57.681 – P2

FP3: 1’57.323 – P1

Combined result: 1’57.323 – P1

Superpole 2 automatic entry

“We started the day and the track was quite dirty. From there it’s been epic as we ended FP1 fastest. FP2 I did 7 / 8 laps and was lapping low 1’58.00’s so I was consistently fast and then to end FP3 fastest of the day was just perfect. We are consistently fast so we know we can be right there at the sharp end tomorrow.”

Lorenzo Savadori #32 – Aprilia RSV4-RF

FP1: 2’00.454 – P11

FP2: 1’58.470 – P8

FP3: 1’57.799 – P4

Combined result: 1’57.799 – P5

Superpole 1 entry

“I’m not really happy as we have struggled a lot with the old tyre and after doing some laps using the new tyre we dropped off further. It is unusual as we thought we lost this problem in the second half of the year by switching to the bigger tyre. Tomorrow we hope to make another step forward as the gap is getting bigger.”

More, from a press release issued by Barni Racing Team:

#QatarWorldSBK: Forés twelfth after free practice sessions

Losail (QAT) 25th October 2018. First day in Qatar with lights and shadow for the Barni Racing Team and his rider Xavi Forés. Under the floodlights of the spectacular Losail International Circuit, the Spaniard ended 12th after three free practice sessions. Missing the top 10 Forés will be forced to take part in Superpole 1 in order to get the pass for Superpole 2 and a good spot in the starting grid.

As usual in Qatar the action began when the sun sat and Forés showed once again its extraordinary form: he was fifth after the first two practice sessions with a time that dropped down from 1’59.933 of FP1 to 1’58.241 of FP2. However, in the conclusive FP3 the Ducati rider failed the further improvement and slipped back to the twelfth position. As happened only in Donington this season Forés is out of the gate of Superpole 2. To get the pass for the second qualifying session, tomorrow, he must to conquer one of the two best times in Superpole 1.

Marco Barnabò, Principal Manager

“It was pretty much a straight shot through for two sessions. The bike was working well and Xavi didn’t have to fight too much to be in the top 5. Unfortunately with the last set of tyre the where no grip and our best time was impossible to improve. I’m pretty sure we can pass the Superpole 1 and play our role for a good position in the second qualifying session too.”

Xavi Forés, #12

“The day was hard to read. In the first two sessions I was in the top five, but the third was more difficult than I expected. I had no grip and the bike became difficult to ride. However i feel good and tomorrow it will be a positive day, I am convinced!.”

More, from a press release issued by Pata Yamaha:

Lowes On The Pace On Opening Day In Qatar

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Alex Lowes got the final race weekend of the 2018 season off to a flying start today in Qatar, ending the day fourth on combined times after topping the timesheet in FP2. Michael van der Mark secured automatic entry into tomorrow’s Superpole 2 by finishing eighth today, despite having sat out most of the opening free practice session following a crash that he was lucky to walk away from uninjured.

The first free practice session got underway as the sun set behind the main grandstand, with the riders heading out onto a track that was dusty and slippery through lack of use. Lowes quickly mastered the tricky conditions to finish sixth, but his Pata Yamaha teammate wasn’t so fortunate.

Van der Mark lost the rear and highsided on the entry to turn one on only his second timed lap. The 25-year-old was lucky to walk away with minor bruising to his wrist and knee, but the bike was too badly damaged to allow him to return to the track before the session came to an end.

While van der Mark played catch up during FP2, it was Lowes who set the pace. The Pata Yamaha rider was fast and consistent from the start of the session, which took place at the same time and in the same conditions as the races will be run on Friday and Saturday, building his pace throughout to eventually claim the top spot on the timesheet, which he held to the chequered flag.

For the third and final practice this evening, Lowes and his crew focused on race set-up, running a 15-lap race simulation on rather than chasing a one-off fast lap. Despite problems with front tyre endurance on his long run, Lowes’ pace was quick enough to see him finish the opening day fourth on combined times and to secure automatic entry to Superpole 2 tomorrow.

Having struggled to find a good feeling with his R1 in FP2, after losing most of the first practice to the crash, van der Mark and his crew made significant set-up changes for the third and final practice session, with positive results. The Pata Yamaha was immediately able to improve his lap time, eventually finishing in eighth position despite losing time to a mistake on his fastest lap.

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P4 – 1:57.656

“It’s been a decent start to the weekend and I enjoyed it today. I felt like I was riding well, but we still need to find something with the bike for me to feel completely comfortable, especially when the tyre starts to drop off and it becomes a bit more difficult to finish the corner. I felt really good in the second session today, finishing on top around about the same time as the races are scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday, which was good. I did a long run in the last session, rather than going for a quick lap, but my pace was still good. We had some issues with front tyre endurance during the race simulation, so we need to look at that tonight and come up with a plan for tomorrow. Overall it was a good day and I’m sure we can improve further tomorrow.”

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P8 – 1:57.980

“The first session started well; I felt good on the bike straight away, but then I lost the rear going into turn one and had such a massive highside that left me a bit battered and bruised but, thankfully, with no injuries. So that was it for that session, as the bike was quite badly damaged. My crew did an amazing job to get it repaired ready for FP2, so big thanks to them. We were playing catch up from the second session onwards because we lost so much time but, step-by-step, we were able to improve and, physically, I had no problem on the bike. We made quite big changes to the suspension set up at the front and rear for FP3, which brought an improvement and my lap time was quite good, despite a big mistake on my fastest lap. I’m happy to have made it straight into Superpole 2 tomorrow after losing so much track time today.”

Paul Denning

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – Team Principal

“An interesting first day and evening here in Qatar under the lights, with the normal challenges to face of variable track temperatures as the evening rolls in and a very dirty track. Michael got caught out on his second timed lap in FP1 and suffered a very nasty entry highside. Fortunately his Alpinestars airbag system really made a difference, meaning he got away with a bad knock to his wrist and knee but was able to resume work in FP2. Having missed all of the first session you’re obviously playing catch up but he stuck to his tasks very well, his crew did what they could to make up for lost time and we’re in a lot better shape than it looked like we might be in FP1. Alex has had a really good day; quickest in FP2 and a 15-lap long run in FP3, which wasn’t perfect but has given him and his crew really valuable information to work on for tomorrow. Overall, there are improvements to be made and as the track develops further and gains more grip we hope this will also work in our favour and allow our R1 machines to perform strongly tomorrow.”

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