Jonathan Rea ahead of Alex Lowes (both Kawasaki ZX-10RR) – will the two Kawasaki aces dominate again like at the season opener in Aragon or do their opponents have a chance this time, like in the second and third round? (© Kawasaki Racing Team).

Rea fastest in 1st free practice ahead of Toprak and Sykes

The fourth round of the Superbike World Championship is their home race for many of the most important riders in the premier class of near-series bikes, which they had to do without last year due to the corona pandemic. One of them lay down shortly after the start of the first free practice, but a little later promptly set the provisional best time. The man with the first crash had been Tom Sykes, and Toprak Razgatlioglu wasn’t even on the track at the time. For the first 10 minutes in the pits, the Turk’s Yamaha R1 was still being worked on because a problem had to be eliminated first. It had stayed dry for the time being, and after a few laps the World Cup runner-up had already set the second-best time. Behind Sykes and Toprak were Redding, Rea, Lowes, Rinaldi and Van der Mark after the first half of FP1. Local hero Leon Haslam on P8 in front of Rabat and Davies. The former had initially set the second-best time behind Johnny Rea.

Tom Sykes (BMW) after his crash at Turn 11, after a few minutes in the first free practice session on his favorite track in Donington Park.

The comparison with the times of 2019
When the clock was still fifteen minutes, Jonathan Rea had set a new best time of 1’27.841. Tom Sykes’ four-year-old record (1’26.641 and back then, like the Northern Irishman on a Kawasaki ZX-10RR) was just over 1.2 seconds short of the world championship leader. Should it stay dry in Superpole on Saturday, the old pole record of the Huddersfield man this weekend is in jeopardy. He tried again three minutes before the end of the third free practice session to attack Rea’s fastest time, but after two red sectors, Sykes was a little more than three and a half tenths missing in the end. In the end he was only fourth because at the very end Toprak managed a slightly better time than the reigning world champion and Gerloff drove the third-best lap. But the best laps of the two Yamaha aces were cancelled shortly afterwards. The following is the final ranking after FP1.

P, No, Rider, Bike, Time(,Gap), km/h
1, 1, REA Jonathan, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’27.841, , 272
2, 54, RAZGATLIOGLU Toprak, Yamaha YZF R1, 1’28.105, 0.264, 268
3, 66, SYKES Tom, BMW M 1000 RR, 1’28.202, 0.361, 270
4, 21, RINALDI Michael Ruben, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 1’28.560, 0.719, 273
5, 91, HASLAM Leon, Honda CBR1000 RR-R, 1’28.576, 0.735, 270
6, 31, GERLOFF Garrett, Yamaha YZF R1, 1’28.681, 0.840, 268
7, 22, LOWES Alex, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’28.790, 0.949, 270
8, 45, REDDING Scott, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 1’28.814, 0.973, 270
9, 7, DAVIES Chaz, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 1’28.857, 1.016, 269
10, 60, VAN DER MARK Michael, BMW M 1000 RR, 1’29.104, 1.263, 268
11, 19, BAUTISTA Alvaro, Honda CBR1000 RR-R, 1’29.461, 1.620, 272
12, 44, MAHIAS Lucas, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’29.505, 1.664, 261
13, 47, BASSANI Axel, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 1’29.550, 1.709, 273
14, 55, LOCATELLI Andrea, Yamaha YZF R1, 1’29.746, 1.905, 268
15, 94, FOLGER Jonas, BMW M 1000 RR, 1’29.754, 1.913, 266
16, 53, RABAT Tito, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 1’30.157, 2.316, 272
17, 12, MOSSEY Luke, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’30.953, 3.112, 262
18, 23, PONSSON Christophe, Yamaha YZF R1, 1’31.579, 3.738, 264
19, 84, CRESSON Loris, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’31.718, 3.877, 261
20, 32, VINALES Isaac, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 1’31.880, 4.039, 266
21, 3, NOZANE Kohta, Yamaha YZF R1, 1’35.209, 7.368, 256
22, 50, LAVERTY Eugene, BMW M 1000 RR, , , 248

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday – 90% rain!

We still remember very well how we were inside Turn 1 when the first race of 2019 started in Donington in the rain. An outstanding Jonathan Rea took the lead from the start, and after the first lap we had the impression that something had happened behind him. The reason for this was that the second placed Tom Sykes was already almost 3 seconds behind the leader in Turn 1. One lap later, it was almost five seconds that the Kawasaki driver had left his closest pursuer. In the sixth deal it was almost 7 seconds and from now on he only managed his lead over the other drivers. Alvaro Bautista fell as world championship leader and with that the reigning world champion took over the lead and then didn’t show any more nakedness and won the fifth title in a row.

Jonathan Rea in the 2017 season – it was the year until this season in which the best Superbike rider of all time had already led the interim ranking of the World Championship from the first lap. This time it was that time again in the second Corona year, and he has been the world championship leader since the start in Motorland Aragon.

Does the competition of the World Cup leader threaten another humiliation next weekend?
With the current weather forecast, his opponent’s heart is likely to slip because it doesn’t look good for the whole weekend. At the moment there is a risk of 90 percent rain in all three races, which, along with Rea, at most Sykes should be happy. Two years ago the man from Huddersfield drove for BMW after the rain race in Misano in wet conditions in Donington with P2, his second podium. While Alex Lowes and Scott Redding are also very strong in the rain, this is still not the case with Toprak. The Turk had pulled himself out of the affair in Magny-Cours in the previous year in the wet. But his best result was a sixth place in the first race. For the World Cup runner-up from Turkey, there is a risk of a severe setback if the forecasts are correct. In general, the competition of the world championship leader is threatened with renewed humiliation next weekend, above all the Yamaha hope, which could possibly give way next weekend.

A little enthusiastic Michael van der Mark (at that time still on the Pata Yamaha) photographed by us on July 6, 2019 in Parc fermé and to the right of him his teammate at the time Alex Lowes, who was fifth 37.641 seconds behind winner Rea. With “Magic Michael” it was over a minute and his brand colleague Marco Melandri was even lapped shortly before the finish by the winner from Northern Ireland, whereupon the latter was to announce his resignation a few days later, completely demoralized.

The return of Leandro Mercado – destined for Assen

After his team had embarrassed themselves to the bone in Aragon, MIE Honda is now reportedly returning for the lap in the Netherlands with the Argentine. At this point, we do without the swollen words that the dubious team boss Moriwaki from Japan uttered. Above all, because her credibility had suffered extremely in the last few months, and you can hardly believe her any more. Our only hope is with Leandro Mercado, who simply didn’t deserve such an embarrassing performance as at the season opener. Let’s hope that he can be there from Assen until the end of the season and that his Honda CBR-1000RR-R SP Fireblade will be prepared a little more seriously this time than in Aragon, where he had absolutely no chance.

Leandro Mercado photographed by us in Parc fermé by us as Orelac Kawasaki riders 2019 – the fast Argentine, unlike the Chilean Maximilian Scheib, had received a contract for the 2021 season, but his material was anything but competitive in Aragon.

Stand in the WorldSBK world championships

The “Donington Park Circuit”

The course, located in the immediate vicinity of East Midland Airport, is 4,023 kilometres (2.49 miles) long. With 7 right and 5 left turns, the longest start-finish straight is just 550 meters long.

WorldSBK Donington Park schedule (WSBK only, no WSSP)

DayLocal timeMEZSession
Fr, 2. Jul10:30 – 11:1511:30 – 12:15WorldSBK – FP1
Fr, 2. Jul15:00 – 15:4516:00 – 16:45WorldSBK – FP2
Sa, 3. Jul09:00 – 09:3010:00 – 10:30WorldSBK – FP3
Sa, 3. Jul11:10 – 11:2512:10 – 12:25Superpole
Sa, 3. Jul14:0015:00Race 1 WorldSBK
Su, 4. Jul09:00 – 09:1510:00 – 10:15Warm-Up
Su, 4. Jul11:0012:00Superpole Race WSBK
Su, 4. Jul14:0015:00Race 2 WorldSBK

>WSBK Donington Preview see separate report on this page.

Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© WorldSBK).