Tom Sykes in control despite close times at Donington
First day of action in UK decides top-20 riders for Round 6 Tissot-Superpole
On a day that saw three 45-minute Free Practice sessions for the WorldSBK riders, the final one deciding the 20 riders qualified to tomorrow’s Tissot-Superpole sessions was the most intense as well. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended day one as the fastest rider to lap the 4.023km Donington Park circuit as the top-13 was covered by only 0.953s.
The official Kawasaki rider’s time of 1.28.172 was less than a tenth of a second from his own race lap record set in 2013 and kept the former champion 0.111s ahead of the opposition.
Tom Sykes #66 – Kawasaki Racing Team – 1st – “We had an average day, we still have some limitations and we need to improve the feel of the bike. We put a couple of good laps in but we still need to do more tomorrow. Being so close to my lap record is good news but me and Marcel need to sit down tonight to find some more speed. I’m still adjusting my riding style but from here on in it looks like we might be able to be as consistent as we were in Imola.”
Davide Giugliano crashed his Aruba.it Racing Ducati SBK Team entry moments after moving into second place with three minutes to go, the Italian was able to stay ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who finished third after also improving in the final session of the day.
Davide Giugliano #34 – Aruba.it Racing Ducati – 2nd – “Fortunately, the crash was nothing major. I had to brake more than usual due to a rider who was in front of me and I tucked the front. Apart from that it was a good day, although we always struggle a bit here due to the opposite natures of the two halves of the track. I lose a lot of time in the final split and thus need to make up some ground in the fast section. Overall, second place is not bad at all, my physical condition is still far from ideal but I already feel much better than at Imola.”
Jonathan Rea #65 – Kawasaki Racing Team – 3rd – “I honestly didn’t have a good feeling today and we still need to find a little bit extra from the bike. The weather looked like it was going to threaten later in the day but I’m pleased it stayed dry. We need it to be constant for the rest of the weekend as we have some work to do. The first and last sectors are good for us but we need to work on the middle part of the circuit as I’m weak there at the moment.”
Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) showed no ill effects of the rib injury from Imola, moving closer to the fastest time in fourth ahead of compatriots Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) who were fifth and sixth, respectively.
Leon Haslam: “I’m pleased with the fourth place. The team did a great job between this morning and this afternoon despite slowing down in FP2. My ribs are bothering me but the Mobile Clinic is following up with me every session where we are deciding what to do in order to keep the problems to a minimum. In FP3 we got very close but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement and I can’t help but to be confident. We made the majority of improvements going into turns, in fact in the final part of the last session where I put in my best time. There are some very fast riders and even some new arrivals with respect to the usual familiar faces, so for Sunday we’ll need to set up the RSV4 RF to overtake easily in the duels.”
Chaz Davies – P5 – “Today hasn’t gone too badly. In the second session we made some good progress but then we stalled a little perhaps in the final session. All in all we’ve worked quite well but we need to work to find more rear grip, also trying to put as much power to the ground as we can because in certain sections we’re still wheeling too much and having to play with the electronics to solve that. We could also use a little more turning in acceleration out of the slow corners, but we still have tomorrow’s sessions in which to improve…”
Alex Lowes – P6 – “We’ve improved in every session and improved every time we’ve changed the bike today, and while it’s still a work in progress, the lads are doing a great job. It’s really, really nice to be riding at Donington, I’m enjoying it a lot and I feel like I’m riding pretty well. I feel like we should be able to improve more compared to the rest – it doesn’t always work like that and with how the last few races have gone for us we just need to have a couple of consistent finishes – but I’m riding the bike well and we are making steps in the right direction. So I’m quite optimistic about tomorrow and hoping we can achieve a couple of good races on Sunday.”
Ayrton Badovini kept BMW Motorrad Italia in contention in seventh ahead of Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati).
Michael van der Mark – P8 – “I’m really happy with the last session this afternoon. To be honest, in the first two sessions today we were really struggling but we were able to improve each time we went out. For the final session today we made a big change to the CBR and I got a good feeling again. I was able to do some consistent lap times with the old tyre and then, at the end, we put in a new tyre to go directly to Superpole 2. Even though there are still many things we can improve, I am really happy with our first day’s work here.”
WorldSBK rookie Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) just missed out on the top ten on his Donington debut day, ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), David Salom (Team Pedercini), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and the youngest rider on the grid Christophe Ponsson (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) who rounded out the top-15.
Jordi Torres – P11 – “It’s difficult to do three sessions on the same day on a new circuit. There isn’t enough time to gather your thoughts and memorise it. Despite this we did a good job. The bike is working well enough and that helped me not to waste too much time. We’re close, but with such tight standings it doesn’t take very much at all to make a difference, so tomorrow we’ll have to take on Superpole 1. The goal is to get into Superpole 2 and I’d say that the improvement depends 50% on my riding style and 50% on some changes we need to make to the RSV4.”
Sylvain Guintoli – P12 – “The feeling with the bike is really quite different with the changes that the team has made but we’re staying with it and we’re working hard on setting up the bike around these changes. I was not feeling good in Imola but here the feeling is much better and there are some particular points on the track where we are losing time. I feel like we can improve in those areas and we’re working on that. The CBR is behaving quite differently and it actually feels better than the lap time suggests. Tomorrow we’ll continue our work to make the bike a consistent front runner so hopefully we can improve that pace and keep moving forward.”
Randy de Puniet – P14 – “It was a positive first day at Donington. This morning we struggled with the same problem from the previous races but having the three sessions today was good for us. The step wasn’t big between the first and second sessions, but it was in the right direction – improving the engine brake but not the traction control or connection issues. In the last session we also improved the traction control so now the connection is the critical focus for me. The bike is not perfect yet but now we can continue to focus on improving this. I am only one second slower than the pole position so it is a big improvement and I really hope that during FP4 we can find some more tenths so I can get the jump into Superpole 2 and try for two good races.”
The final rider to make it into Tissot-Superpole was Santiago Barragan (Grillini SBK Team Kawasaki) who edged Imre Toth (BMW Team Toth) in the final half of FP3 to secure 20th despite an early crash at ‘Goddards’.
Kenan Sofuoglu leads WSS field on opening day
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) dominated the opening day of World Supersport action, dipping below the 2013 lap record of Sam Lowes in FP1 to head the field after FP2 by 0.112s.
Behind the Turkish rider who is currently leading this year’s world championship was Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who overcame a difficult morning to move into second. The Frenchman finished ahead of the British pairing of Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Triumph) and Kyle Ryde (Pacedayz European Trackdays Yamaha) who showed incredible pace in both 45-minute sessions to finish third and fourth respectively. For Ryde the result is even more impressive given his age – at 17 he is the youngest ever British WSS wildcard.
American PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) kept himself in contention in fifth ahead of the third British wildcard entered at Donington Park, Andrew Reid. The youngster from Northern Ireland is replacing Ratthapark Wilairot in the CORE Motorsport Thailand team finishing a credible sixth at the end of the opening day.
In a session that saw most riders improve. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres), Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda), Sam Hornsey (Profile Racing Triumph), and Kevin Wahr (SMS Honda) rounded out the top ten.
Australians Aiden Wagner (Kawasaki) and Glenn Scott (Honda) were 22nd and 23rd respectively.
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