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.
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