WSBK: New world champion Jonathan Rea sets early pace in France

Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10R during World Superbike practice at Magny-Cours in France. Picture: Baylon McCaughey.
Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10R during World Superbike practice at Magny-Cours in France. Picture: Baylon McCaughey.

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea set the pace in free practice on Friday at Magny-Cours in France ahead of the penultimate round of the championship.

Rea lapped in 1m 37.750s to edge out team-mate Tom Sykes and Ducati’s Chaz Davies by nearly three tenths of a second.

The 28-year-old Ulsterman sealed a brace of fourth place finishes as he wrapped up the world title at Jerez in Spain at the previous round as Rea finished outside the top three for the first time this season.

With the pressure off, Rea is aiming to finish on a high by adding to his haul of 12 victories in 2015.

Behind the top three, Aprilia rider Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki were next with Althea Ducati’s Niccolo Canepa completing the top six despite an early crash in the session.

Final practice and Superpole qualifying takes place on Saturday at the French circuit, where Rea finished on the podium in third in 2014.