The first day of action in the 2017 season concluded with PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) at the head of the combined WorldSSP Friday free practice timesheets, courtesy of a 1’33.087 best lap in FP1.
Jacobsen was over half a second faster than any of his rivals in the earlier session and although he could not improve in the afternoon he still ended the day 0.38s ahead of second quickest rider Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda). Frenchman Cluzel recorded his best time of the day late in FP2.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) completed the top three on the combined timesheets, +0.515s adrift of Jacobsen.
The FP2 session at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round was red flagged with just under 20 minutes remaining, after debris was strewn across the track at turn 3 following a heavy crash for Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team). The Frenchman was soon back on his feet but his Yamaha YZF R6 suffered significant damage in the crash and he ended up fourth overall.
FP1 had also seen Mahias crash at turn 4, though in that case without major consequence.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) finished fifth fastest after being given the all clear to ride on Friday morning, following a test crash at Phillip Island earlier in the week which saw him suffer a dislocated left shoulder.
Also in the top ten and therefore going automatically into Tissot Superpole 2 on Saturday are Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25), Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini). They all lapped within a second of Jacobsen’s P1 time.
Stapleford was a high speed crasher in the final minutes of FP2, though the English Triumph rider was immediately back on his feet.
Italian duo Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) and Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) were just outside the top ten in 11th and 12th respectively and will therefore try their luck again in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday.
Another high velocity crash with 15 minutes to go saw Matt Edwards (Euro Twins Brisbane) bouncing through the gravel but the Australian wild card rider was able to walk away after the incident. Edwards was taken straight to the Medical Centre for a check-up.
In the absence of defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who will miss the opening two rounds of the 2017 championship due to a pre-season hand injury, the riders were able to complete their first official practice sessions of the new season in clear weather conditions.
The WorldSSP riders will be in action again at Phillip Island at 11am local time on Saturday for FP3, with Tissot Superpole 1 at 1.30pm and Tissot Superpole 2 at 1.55pm.
WorldSSP Fastest on Friday
1. PJ Jacobsen MV Agusta Reparto Corse 1.33.087
2. Jules Cluzel CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +0.380
3. Federico Caricasulo GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team +0.515