Rea and Sykes top timesheets in all 3 Free Practice sessions, and gear up for Saturday showdown
On Friday at Donington Park, the Kawasaki riders were simply unstoppable. Through rain, fog, and dry patches, it didn’t change the top of the timesheets: Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at 1 and 2, or 2 and 1. The boost that winning the last four races of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has brought the team allowed them to dominate at the Donington opening, confident with their choices in changing conditions.
Rea pipped his teammate to top the combined Friday sessions, also taking best time in the FP1 downpour. He picked up where he left off last year in Race 2, showing yet again why he is the reigning champion in front of his home fans.
However, Rea was careful to calm expectations going into Saturday. Is there something that couldn’t be seen out on track? “I’m trying to be confident because we topped the panel today, but there was a huge compromise with the gearbox”, he warns. “That FP3 was our first true session. In a lot of areas of the track the bike is too short with the gearing, and in some areas, it’s too long and quite lazy with power. Still, Kawasaki did a great job to roll out a bike straight away”.
“I like to roll into the race knowing how the tyre and bike is behaving, electronic and chassis-wise, at the end of the race simulation”, says the world champion. “Today I did a 14-lap run, but that’s not race distance. Of course, everyone’s underprepared, that’s how it is, it’s exciting. The good thing is that we have good pace, we were fastest today and the lap-by-lap chrono looks pretty strong”.
Tom Sykes was finally second-best on Friday, but the Yorkshire rider had a very positive return to Donington. Something always seems to click for Sykes at his home race, and it would be a huge surprise not to see the rider fighting for a tenth Donington win tomorrow.
Getting the best out of the ZX-10RR was extremely satisfying for Sykes in difficult conditions: “I really enjoyed myself. We can still improve the bike, and this gives me a lot of excitement, knowing that we can improve for tomorrow.”
“Things are going in the right direction”, he adds. “I’m definitely happy to get this day under my belt. Our performance in the wet, the damp and the dry has been very consistent”.
One thing Sykes didn’t enjoy was the damp and cold, although it did come with a silver lining, British-style: “Cool out there? Understatement of the day! The good thing about cold days is that the kettle works overtime, there’s been plenty of Yorkshire tea drinking in my motorhome today! We’re making the most of it, you can’t beat a good pot of tea on a cold day”.
Saturday promises to be an action-packed affair, with both KRT riders in touching distance of making history! Catch all the action thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.