An immense opening day at the Prosecco DOC UK Round sees top 13 covered by less than a second at the British circuit.
With beautiful sunshine beating down on the Donington Park circuit, WorldSBK took to the track for their second Free Practice session of the day. With a flurry of activity early in the session, most of the top riders improved before settling down for the remainder of the 50-minute encounter. Like in FP1, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) ended the session on top, confirming his pace and putting himself as a firm favourite for success throughout the rest of the weekend.
Coming into FP2 as the man to beat, Sykes took to Donington Park and showed his prowess and why he is the King of Donington Park. The Huddersfield rider, who has nine victories at the circuit in WorldSBK, set a lap time with 13 minutes to go and improved his time from the morning session. His teammate for this weekend, Peter Hickman, put in a good day’s work at Donington Park and finished the day in 12th.
In second position was Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who was flying the Yamaha flag high inside the top three. The British rider put in a strong lap time at the end of the session to finish just 0.018s away from Tom Sykes at the top. Lowes’ teammate, Michael van der Mark, made his return to action and had a comparably quiet FP2, finishing in eleventh position come the end of the day.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was improving steadily all the way through the session, with his incremental steps rewarding him with second at the end of the session and less than half a tenth of a second behind Sykes at the top. He ended the day as top Independent rider, despite a small crash at the end of the session, ahead of the likes of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in seventh, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) in eighth and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) in tenth.
Fighting hard to try and get an advantage on his rivals, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was in fourth at his home event. The four-time WorldSBK champion was less than a tenth off the pace but down in fourth, at a track which he has won at only once for Kawasaki, during Race 2 in 2017. Home-hero teammate, Leon Haslam, was solidly placed inside the top five, looking to get back on the podium at home.
The ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team finally came to play, although not with the scorching pace they’ve sported at other rounds this season. Alvaro Bautista only managed to get into sixth come the end of the day, having finished down in 11th after the morning session. The championship leader has work to do, especially with main championship rival Jonathan Rea ahead of him after day one. Chaz Davies’ struggles continued, although the Welshman placed ninth at the end of the day.
Notable names outside the top ten included Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), who was only 13th, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was down in 15th. Top Honda honours went to Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) in 16th, whilst Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was 18th and last on his return, following nearly two months on the sidelines with two broken wrists.
#GBRWorldSBK at Donington Park: Friday
1. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’27.733
2. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’27.751
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 1’27.775
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