After securing his fourth consecutive World Championship at the previous round in Magny Cours Jonathan Rea started well at the a first ever WorldSBK round to be held in South America, setting a final lap time of 1’39.914. Rea was the only rider to get into the 1’39s today.
A small mix-up near the end of FP3 prevented Sykes from using a new soft option rear race tyre to go for a fast final push. In qualifying 14th today Tom will now ride in Superpole 1 on Saturday, to aim to progress into Superpole 2 and secure a strong starting position for the opening race.
The 4.276km long Circuito San Juan Villicum has proved to be a popular venue already but having been so recently completed it is still bedding in and cleaning up with every passing track session.
Dust on the track meant that the first laps were very much slower this morning in FP1 than the final ones in FP3, with many riders moving up the finishing order in the very last available minutes.
After Superpole qualifying on Saturday Rea and Sykes will face a 21-lap opening race, which starts at 16.00, local time in Argentina. The second Villicum race will take place at the same time on Sunday the 14th of October.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) shared track time with Rea today and that factor assisted him to an excellent third best time, making him easily the top independent rider on Friday.
Local rider Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) secured a highly popular eighth place after FP3, boosted by the presence of his many supporters. Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) went 18th fastest and rookie WorldSBK rider Gabriele Ruiu, (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 19th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was really positive today and our bike has a good base set-up. Session-to-session I have asked my crew chief Pere not to change the bike set-up because as the track got more and more rubber on it we were going faster and faster without set-up changes. The most crucial factor was gearing. It is such a long straight here if you gear it for that then you are a little bit lazy everywhere else. The track is super-nice, very challenging and the last sector reminds me a little bit like Russia, the Moscow Circuit - tight and technical.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We improved the bike this afternoon and it seemed that the consistency was there from the lap time point of view. There was a mix up at the end and I had to improve my best time with many laps already on the tyre. It just means I go into Superpole 1 tomorrow and have more fun! In each session the track is getting better and the lap times are going down four or five seconds compared to this morning. The layout is enjoyable to ride - really enjoyable - and it is nice to see quite a few fans around on a Friday as well.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2018: Races 22, Wins 14, Podiums 19, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 68 (53 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 131 (89 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 22, Wins 1, Podiums 7, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 107 (106 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 47 (47 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 124 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 375 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 80 – second overall