Bautista sets Jerez practice pace, Baz walks away from huge crash

Alvaro Bautista throws down the gauntlet to his rivals following FP2 at Jerez, while Loris Baz escapes harm after a spectacular crash from his Ten Kate Yamaha
Bautista sets Jerez practice pace, Baz walks away from huge crash

Jerez WorldSBK - Free Practice Results (2)

Alvaro Bautista surged to the top of the World Superbike Championship timesheets to secure Friday honours in Jerez, as Loris Baz escaped unharmed from a spectacular crash at the end of his first day back competing in the series.

Utilising a late break in proceedings in the wake of Baz’s red flag-inducing crash with eight minutes on the clock remaining, on resumption of action the Ducati rider’s soft rear effort went straight to the top of the pile.

Putting in a 1m 39.426secs lap – two tenths up on Michael van der Mark’s FP1 benchmark – Bautista proceeded to pump into another lap straight away that, while slower than his own, was still quicker than his rivals.

Despite failing to improve on his morning lap time, van der Mark retained second place both on the combined and individual FP2 timesheets, producing two laps that would have seen off third place Jonathan Rea regardless.

The Kawasaki Racing rider’s best times came into the closing stages as he slowly improved his laps even if he’d end the day a full four tenths adrift of his championship rival.

van der Mark’s Pata Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes didn’t improve on his fastest time but remained fourth best on a strong day for the Japanese manufacturer, which also saw GRT’s Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese lift their R1s to sixth and seventh. They were split by Tom Sykes on the best of the BMWs in fifth.

However, there was less cheer for Baz – returning to WorldSBK this weekend with the Ten Kate Yamaha team - after crashing in the closing stages at the turn four left-hander, his R1 digging into the gravel and performing a spectacularly high airborne pirouette before coming to rest.

Though Baz walked away unharmed from the dramatic looking smash, the accident leaves the Dutch team with a lengthy repair effort this evening. Despite that, the former MotoGP rider enjoyed respectably competitive first day back in action, ending FP2 in 13th.

Elsewhere, Michael Ruben Rinaldi was the second highest-placed Ducati rider in eighth, at the expense of factory man Chaz Davies, who stayed outside the top ten all session and only improved to 11th late on – 1.2secs behind Bautista.

Further back, Alessandro Delbianco was the quickest of the three Hondas in 16th, while Tommy Bridewell spent his session recovering track time following his FP1 crash in 18th of 19 riders.