Alvaro Bautista beats Jonathan Rea to top opening day in Argentina

by Ryan Lilly

On his first-ever visit to an extremely dusty Circuito San Juan Villicum, Alvaro Bautista ended the opening day of World Superbike action on top ahead of the penultimate round of the championship.

Despite a slow start to Friday action, Bautista completed a clean sweep on Friday by beating newly-crowned champion Jonathan Rea to the top spot in both the first and second practice sessions.

Rea, who only ventured out on track with ten minutes remaining in Free Practice 1, ended the opening day in second, just a narrow +0.104s behind the top Ducati.

It was a strong showing for Ducati, as the Italian manufacturer dominated the top five with Independent rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi getting the better of second Ducati rider Chaz Davies for 3rd and 4th position.

Tom Sykes rounded out the top five on board the BMW, although the Yorkshireman’s best effort of a 1:44.934 was a whole +1.320s behind Bautista’s top time.

Fresh off the back of his two wins in Magny-Course, Toprak Razgatlioglu ended day one in Argentina, a track where the newly announced Yamaha rider stood on the podium at last year, in 6th position.

Second KRT rider Leon Haslam rounded out the top seven after a heavy Free Practice two crash limited the Derbyshireman’s track time.

Yamaha rounded out the top ten with GRT Yamaha‘s Sandro Cortese getting the better of both Factory Yamaha’s with KRT bound Alex Lowes beating teammate Michael van der Mark to 9th.

Home town hero Leandro Mercado ended his first day in 12th place, just behind the ‘Spanish Elvis’ of Jordi Torres.

Rounding out the top fifteen on day one was Ten Kate Racing Yamaha‘s Loris Baz (13th), the second GRT Yamaha of Marco Melandri (14th) and Alessandro Delbianco (15th).

World Superbike action continues tomorrow, with Qualifying kicking off at 17:00 (GMT) before the lights go out for the first of three races at 20:00 (GMT).

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