As the WorldSBK action commenced on Thursday evening at the Acerbis Qatar Round, the final weekend of the 2017 season, it was Jonathan Rea who led the way with a 1’57.666 lap.
Under the floodlights at the spectacular Losail International Circuit in the Qatari desert Rea outpaced Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) who also featured in the top three.
Ahead of the final races of the year on Friday and Saturday the riders got a feel for the desert conditions in FP1 and they will all be pushing as hard as ever this weekend in order to end the year on a high.
Rea was the sharpest performer in the opening practice on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, lapping a hefty 0.689s margin ahead of his closest rival and teammate Sykes.
The Northern Irishman’s hot lap came towards the end of the hour long practice session as many of the riders improved on their times.
Davies was 0.882s down on Rea in third place, whilst a lap time 1.013s off the triple World Champion’s best effort put Alex Lowes fourth.
This weekend in Qatar Sykes and Davies will battle it out for the runners-up position in this year’s championship behind title winner Rea and both will be looking to gain any psychological advantage they can before Tissot Superpole and Race 1 on Friday.
Michael van der Mark and Eugene Laverty finished the session in fifth and sixth places respectively, whilst Laverty’s Aprilia teammate Lorenzo Savadori was seventh.
Xavi Fores, Marco Melandri and Jordi Torres completed the top ten.
Rea reveals he suffered a hand injury in
Melandri "much more aware" of his potent
Melandri wins stunning race 1 at Philip
Sykes strikes for first pole of the seas
Savadori tops the timesheets in FP2 at P
Melandri fastest in FP1 at Philip Island
WorldSBK to introduce independent teams
Rea ends on top as one second covers the
Troy Bayliss back in racing action for 2
Circuit de Magny-Cours to host WorldSBK
Gamarino will debut in the premier class
Jake Gagne returns to Honda factory team
Changes to the WorldSBK Regulations for
Gabriele Ruiu to ride with Team Grillini
Rolfo to ride Team Grillini Suzuki machi
Rea ends test Jerez with incredible lap
Lowes happy with opening days in Spain
Melandri fastest man on track as day fou
Davies forced to recuperate after Wednes
Sykes ends day three at Jerez under lap
Sykes takes control of day two at Jerez
Rea stuns to top day one at Jerez test
Baz will be out on the BMW for the first
What to expect in the first WorldSBK pre
Razgatlioglu to ride for Kawasaki Racing
Orelac Racing team to make the step up n
Rea signs off fantastic season with Losa
We made the best of what we had - Davies
Laverty felt like "real race"
Rea wins penultimate race of season in Q
Rea flies to take final pole of the year
Rea ends day one at the Qatar Round at t
WorldSBK set for 13 rounds in 2018
Rea wants to finish the season strong
Guarnoni to make the step up to WorldSBK
Melandri: "Every rider fights with their
Double Jerez win sealed by champion Rea
Davies: "I felt we were learning as the
Rea delighted to take first victory arou
Rea secures first ever Jerez win
Melandri on pole for Saturday showdown a
Van der Mark: "I am happy because I didn
Rea: "Our pace here is fast"
Rea Friday’s fastest despite FP2 crash
Sharp Rea sets pace in early Jerez run
Rea feels fired up for the challenge at
Davies aims to have another solid weeken
Lowes feeling great with the R1
2018 WorldSBK calendar begins to take sh
Davies grabs fine Magny-Cours Race 2 win
Rea: "I wanted to win the race so badly,
Superb Rea seals third successive title
Cool Rea secures French pole in wet SP2
Bradl to sit out on the remainder of the
Sykes: "We are lucky to be racing here"
Rea: "Whatever happens tomorrow we have
Pace setter Rea wraps up Friday ahead of
Sharp Rea leads opening Magny-Cours sess
Could a championship be decided in Franc
Rea to put championship fight out of his
Loris Baz set to move to WorldSBK in 201
Incoming West happy with Portimao result
Double victory puts Rea in position of s
Sykes recovering well after successful o
Laverty: "We’ve had the same problems si
Rea tops official Portimao test
Rea makes it a double at Portimao
Rea "lost for words" after Portimao win
Davies happy to take 20 points in race o
Runaway victory for unstoppable Rea
Rea storms to pole in Portimao sunshine
Rea: "I managed to be very consistent"
Rapid Rea leads the way on day one
Rea on top in opening Portimao session
Davies: "It always feels good to get bac
The battle in WorldSBK closes in between
Takahashi to step in for Red Bull Honda
Rea: thinks that another two year contra
Davies completes double victory in Germa
Davies scores fantastic win for in Germa
Sykes feeling 'happy' around Lausitzring
Sykes on top as action resumes at Lausit
Bradl: "It’s important for me to do well
Giugliano back in the WorldSBK with a st
Rea takes Sunday win at US WorldSBK roun
Marvelous Melandri takes 100th Italian v