World Superbike: Lowes tops rain-disrupted Magny-Cours practice

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Returning to a track where he finished on the podium last year, Lowes set a time of 1m39.107s at the beginning of first practice on Friday morning, just before rain rendered the track too wet for any slick running.

It was hoped that second practice in the afternoon would allow riders to complete some lap in dry conditions and overhaul Lowes’ benchmark from earlier in the day, but the rain returned just minutes before the session was due to begin.

That meant that Lowes’ time remained unbeaten throughout the day, the British rider securing the top spot by 0.270s over the factory Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi.

In-form Yamaha rider Toprak Razgatlioglu ended up third-fastest on the R1, over three tenths down on Lowes’ pace, while championship leader Alvaro Bautista was classified fourth on the Ducati – albeit nearly a second off the best time of the day.

Razgatlioglu’s teammate Andrea Locatelli rounded out the top five, but was one of the several riders to suffer a crash in wet conditions in FP1 – the Italian going down at Turn 5 with just three minutes left in the session.

Axel Bassani was the top independent rider in sixth on the Motocorsa Ducati, while Philipp Oettl also put on a reasonable show to take seventh on GoEleven’s satellite Panigale V4 R.

Honda duo Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona were classified eighth and 11th respectively, separated by the lead works BMW of Scott Redding and Barni Racing Ducati of Luca Bernardi.

Six-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea couldn’t complete a single lap in dry conditions and hence ended up 19th on the timesheets in FP1, more than 11s down on his Kawasaki teammate Lowes.

However, the Ulsterman did top second practice in much worse weather conditions, snatching the top spot late in the session from Bassani with a time of 1m49.379s.

Lowes again finished near the front as he set the third-fastest time in the session, while Rea’s title rivals Bautista and Razgatlioglu finished fourth and 10th respectively.

The second practice of the day was briefly red-flagged with 12 minutes to go due to poor track conditions at Turn 12, while yellow flags were also waved earlier in the session following a crash for GRT Yamaha rider Garrett Gerloff.

FP1 results:

FP2 results:

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