Max Biaggi made a sensational return to World Superbikes by topping the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions at Misano. The two-time champion has come out of retirement for two rounds, the second of which will be at Sepang in August, and doesn’t appear to have lost any of his speed, Biaggi leading the field by a quarter of a second.
Biaggi was impressive from the very start, going quickest in the morning session by half a second from Chaz Davies’ Aruba.it Ducati but Giugliano hit problems on the sister Panigale, suffering a dramatic crash before he had even registered a lap time. The 25 year old didn’t make the same mistake in the afternoon and even went fastest fifteen minutes from time but Biaggi would have the last word, clocking a 1:35.380 to end the day on top.
Davies also enjoyed a spell at the top of the leaderboard but eventually slipped to third, six thousandths behind his teammate, while Leon Haslam all-but matched the Ducatis to finish in fourth spot. The all-conquering Kawasakis didn’t have things all their own way today with championship leader Jonathan Rea down in fifth, just ahead of teammate Tom Sykes, but the British duo were part of a five-rider pack covered by just 0.104s.
Jordi Torres was seventh fastest on the third factory Aprilia ahead of Leandro Mercado while Alex Lowes squeezed his Suzuki into the top ten in ninth, fractionally faster than Matteo Baiocco. As a result, both PATA Hondas head into FP3 outside the top ten with Sylvain Guintoli eleventh and Michael van der Mark seventeenth, the latter fortunate to escape a high speed crash.
Luca Scassa had been expected to figure in the fight to reach SP2 as well but the Italian suffered a crash of his own, causing a fracture to his right collarbone which rules him out of the weekend.
PATA RIVIERA DI RIMINI ROUND: PRACTICE CLASSIFICATION
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