GEICO US Round kicks off with three-time champion ahead of Melandri and Laverty
With the sun already blazing in the early west coast morning, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) chose to make his presence felt early at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca by scoring the fastest time in Free Practice 1, ahead of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia).
The Northern Irish rider was one of the first riders to set a time at the Californian racetrack, moving up to first place in the opening five minutes and remaining there all throughout the session, despite riding fewer laps than anyone else out on track. Rea even had the chance to better his fastest lap with a couple of minutes to go, setting a final time of 1’23.393.
The front trio were in fact all early to make a mark at the GEICO US Round, with Melandri and Laverty also popping into the top-3 from the start. The Italian jumped above his Irish counterpart with 17 minutes to go, and was less than a tenth of a second slower than Rea.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was fourth in FP1, ahead of Brno Race 2 winner Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in fifth, and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) – who holds three victories at Laguna Seca, including last year’s opening contest – in sixth.
Seventh went to Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), with Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) in eight, and Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in ninth, over a second behind.
The best of the American riders at the opening of their home race was wildcard Josh Herrin (Attack Performance Two Wheel Legal Yamaha) in tenth and the last provisional Superpole 2 spot. Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) finished the session 12th, with PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) in 19th.
Follow FP2 from the tricky Californian circuit from 12:30 local time (19:30 GMT) with our live timing, and catch highlights and reactions from today’s action thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.