Van der Mark, Lowes put Yamaha top in Jerez FP1

Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes deliver a Pata Yamaha 1-2 in FP1 at Jerez ahead of Alvaro Bautista.
Van der Mark, Lowes put Yamaha top in Jerez FP1

Jerez WorldSBK - Free Practice Results (1)

Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes gave Pata Yamaha reason to raise expectations coming into round six of the 2019 World Superbike Championship after setting a fierce pace in first free practice at Jerez.

In a year that has seen Ducati and Kawasaki largely dominate between them, van der Mark made rivals take notice with a late 1m 39.654s lap, the Dutchman proving particularly quick through the final sector to overhaul early pace setter Alvaro Bautista.

Team-mate Lowes quickly consolidated van der Mark’s performance by going second himself.

A familiar venue for all teams and riders who use the Circuito de Jerez for pre-season testing, though Crescent Racing’s pleasure will be tempered by the relatively minor importance of FP1, it appears to prove predicitons that the Yamaha R1 will pose a greater threat to rivals Ducati and Kawasaki this week.

Championship leader Bautista had been the first rider to go into the 1min 39s bracket early on as he stamped his mark on proceedings aboard the Ducati Panigale V4 R and may have posed a threat to the top spot with his final lap had he not been baulked by Sandro Cortese at turn one.

Even so, Marco Melandri was also up to speed on the GRT Yamaha in fourth place, ahead of the championship chaser Jonathan Rea on the best of the Kawasaki contingent.

Michel Ruben Rinaldi posted strong sector times as he took his Barni Ducati all the way to sixth ahead of Leon Haslam, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Tom Sykes.

Cortese rounded out the top ten, ahead of Chaz Davies and Loris Baz, the Frenchman marking his and Ten Kate’s return with a solid 12th best in a field of 19 runners.

Elsewhere, Leon Camier’s stand-in Yuki Takahashi out-performed Moriwaki Althea Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari out of the box in 15th, while Markus Reiterberger failed to get a lap in due to persistent technical issues on his BMW.

Similarly, Kawasaki pair Jordi Torres and Leandro Mercado were stopped on track by gremlins, while Tommy Bridewell crashed 25mins into the session, causing damage to the privateer Ducati Panigale V4 R to put him out for the remainder morning.