Jonathan Rea has edged out Chaz Davies during a competitive opening practice at Imola with the defending World Superbike champion laying down a marker to top the session.
The Kawasaki rider headed up the early times from the opening runs only to see Davies, who has won the past four races at the Italian track, strike back with a 1m 47.241s in the closing minutes. Rea regained top spot with his final lap of FP1 with a 1m 46.951s – already half a second off the race lap record – to lead Davies by almost three-tenths of a second.
Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Marco Melandri also kept in touch by rising to third place behind teammate Davies with Xavi Fores making it three Ducatis inside the top four for Barni Racing.
Fresh from his first win of the year from Assen, Tom Sykes enjoyed a solid start to the race weekend with fifth place for Kawasaki ahead of Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark while his teammate Alex Lowes suffered an off at Tosa 10 minutes into the session to prematurely halt his charge.
Jordi Torres powered his MV Agusta to seventh place on the times in FP1 ahead of Team GoEleven Kawasaki’s Roman Ramos, with Eugene Laverty’s injury comeback seeing him take ninth for Milwaukee Aprilia as Puccetti Kawasaki wildcard Leon Haslam rounded out the top 10.
Both Laverty and Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier will be required to pass another fitness check after being given the green light to take part in FP1 in Imola yesterday, with the British rider ending the session in 12th place just behind Toprak Razgatliouglu on the Puccetti Kawasaki.