Rea, Kawasaki out-pace Ducati in Imola WorldSBK FP1

Jonathan Rea sets the benchmark in first free practice for round five of the 2019 WorldSBK season in Italy.
Rea, Kawasaki out-pace Ducati in Imola WorldSBK FP1

Click here for WorldSBK Imola Free Practice Results (1)

Jonathan Rea began the fifth round of the 2019 World Superbike Championship in Imola as he means to go on with a run to the top of the timesheets in first free practice.

The Kawasaki Racing rider, who is chasing his first win of the season this weekend in the wake of Alvaro Bautista’s dominance on the Ducati, was barely headed during the session as he set an eye-catching early pace on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

As much as 0.6s quicker than the opposition at one stage, though Ducati rider Chaz Davies reeled him in towards the end of the 50mins session, it was only enough to reduce the margin to 0.3secs.

Set for his first-ever race at Imola this weekend, runaway championship leader Bautista was a creditable third as he continues to adapt to the ‘old-style’ venue, albeit half-a-second adrift of Rea.

Leon Haslam was two tenths further back on the second of the factory Kawasakis, with Tom Sykes impressing on the updated BMW S1000RR to set the fifth best lap, ahead of top Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark on the Crescent-prepared R1.

BARNI Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi was a strong seventh best on the highest-placed privateer entry, ahead of fellow Italian Marco Melandri, with Alex Lowes and Toprak Razgatioglu completing the top ten.

Despite initial delays, wild-card Lorenzo Zanetti was a solid 14thquickest of the 19 runners, ahead of top Honda rider Leon Camier and ex-MotoGP Hector Barbera, making his second WorldSBK appearance this weekend don the Orelac Racing Kawasaki.

Eugene Laverty brought the session to a brief red flag 20mins into the session after high-siding from his Go Eleven Ducati. The Irishman was able to walk to the ambulance and is being assessed in the medical centre, where he has been diagnosed with fractures in both wrists.