The Circuito San Juan Villicum asphalt surface proved to tricky as the WorldSBK riders took to the track for the first time since Jonathan Rea was crowned World Champion for the fifth successive time in France two weeks ago.
Easing into the first day and building pace Rea ended up in a battle for the overnight leading position, just losing his advantage right at the end to Alvaro Bautista.
Typically lap times were over four seconds slower than the best pace from 2018, simply due to the track surface conditions, which finally offered up a relatively clean but narrow racing line. The afternoon session provided little, if any, improvement in outright grip, especially with track temperatures approaching 50°C.
Haslam was unfortunate in the afternoon session to fall almost as soon as he started, at Turn 16, suffering an off-throttle highside trying out a different option rear tyre and injuring his knee and thumb as he fell.
Despite his heavy hit Haslam got going again to finish seventh overall, after a typically gritty recovery at the end of FP2.
The track conditions are such that there will be longer 35-minute FP3 session on Saturday to allow more time for practice and to help clean the track before Tissot Superpole qualifying, and then the first race of the weekend, over 21-laps.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was really difficult to find a feeling out there because you cannot push anywhere near the limit. It is like riding on marbles and the track did not get much better. I expected a big step in the afternoon session. Even though the track looked cleaner the grip wasn’t there. A really frustrating day because you are kind of reluctant to do anything with the bike set-up in readiness for the track ‘rubbering-in’ some more.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I fell on an out lap, with zero-lean angle and zero brakes, as I had an off throttle high-side. It is the first time I had used that tyre. I went back out on my second tyre after the crash and I had zero grip. I could not even get to my knee because compared to the morning conditions they were a lot worse. We changed the tyre near the end and slowly got going.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) returned to action for the first time since his debut race winning weekend in France last time out. A late crash at Magny Cours in the final race left him with a painful left ankle, but he persevered to finish sixth in today’s combined times.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 11th today, on his first visit to the 4.276km long circuit in Argentina. Local rider Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 12th on his first day back on home soil.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2019: Races 31, Wins 12, Podiums 28, Superpoles 6
Career Race Wins: 83 (68 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 162 (120 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 22 (18 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 31, Wins 0, Podiums 6, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 45 (7 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)
7 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 141 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 424 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 87 – second overall