Alex Lowes showed that his free practice pace in Australia wasn’t a one-off by setting the fastest time on Friday in Thailand. The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider dominated the early sessions at Phillip Island before crashes and mechanical problems saw his weekend unravel but the British youngster showed his potential again on the first day of running at the Chang International Circuit.
In sweltering temperatures, the first session was dominated by the Kawasakis with Jonathan Rea leading teammate Tom Sykes by three quarters of a second. Jordi Torres was the nearest challenger in third after edging out Chaz Davies, the Ducati rider being the only man to crash out during the morning session, sliding off at turn three.
Predictably on a brand new circuit, the track evolution saw times tumble in the afternoon session and with Rea only making a slight gain on his FP1 benchmark, Lowes took the opportunity to seize top spot with a 1:34.685, 0.066s quicker than the championship co-leader and half a second clear of the rest of the field.
Davies bounced back from his morning mishap to take third ahead of Leon Haslam who set an identical time to the Welshman. Much like his teammate, Tom Sykes found improvements harder to come by and slipped to fifth but reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli found almost a second to jump from tenth to sixth. Troy Bayliss backed up his claim that he would be much closer to his rivals in Thailand with seventh while Matteo Baiocco, Jordi Torres and the fit-again David Salom rounded out the top ten.
With one more session to go before the Superpole entrants are decided, Michael van der Mark and Randy de Puniet have most work to do, the rookies lying in twelfth and thirteenth respectively while fellow newcomer Nicolas Terol has an even steeper hill to climb after ending day one in fifteenth.
CHANG THAI ROUND: FREE PRACTICE CLASSIFICATION
TOP TEN AFTER FP3 AUTOMATICALLY QUALIFY FOR SUPERPOLE 2
|1||Alex Lowes||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:34.685|
|2||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:34.751|
|3||Chaz Davies||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:35.288|
|4||Leon Haslam||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:35.288|
|5||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:35.457|
|6||Sylvain Guintoli||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:35.570|
|7||Troy Bayliss||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:35.690|
|8||Matteo Baiocco||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:35.913|
|9||Jordi Torres||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:35.943|
|10||David Salom||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:36.055|
|11||Leandro Mercado||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||1:36.105|
|12||Michael van der Mark||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:36.218|
|13||Randy de Puniet||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:36.263|
|14||Sylvain Barrier||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK||1:36.308|
|15||Nicolas Terol||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:36.391|
|16||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||1:36.940|
|17||Roman Ramos||Kawasaki||Team Go Eleven||1:37.632|
|18||Niccolo Canepa||EBR||Team Hero EBR||1:37.692|
|19||Christophe Ponsson||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:37.824|
|20||Santiago Barragan||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:37.964|
|21||Anucha Nakcharoensri||Honda||YSS TS Racing||1:38.174|
|22||Greg Gildenhuys||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:38.767|
|23||Larry Pegram||EBR||Team Hero EBR||1:38.772|
|24||Imre Toth||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:39.256|
|25||Ireneusz Sikora||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:40.719|
|26||Chanon Chumjai||BMW||RAC Oil Racing Team||1:40.810|