Parity is the name of the game: BMW, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati all hit the top of four different sectors at Donington Park!
All bets really are off at Donington Park for the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, with an array of riders and machinery featuring heavily inside the top positions at the end of Friday. However, parity in WorldSBK really is becoming a big feature and as the season unfolds, more riders are finding themselves in front-running positions. Day one at Donington Park was no exception, as four different manufacturers topped the four sectors at the British venue, proving that anyone has a chance of success in WorldSBK this weekend.
Starting in sector one which runs from the start-line to Craner Curve, Tom Sykes edged clear with a 0.037s advantage over Sandro Cortese’s GRT Yamaha WorldSBK machine, whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) were third and fourth, all within three-quarters of a tenth-of-a-second of Sykes and again, all on different bikes. Intriguingly, Peter Hickman (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was also strong in the opening sector in seventh, emphasising the BMW S 1000 RR’s strengths.
Carrying on with sector two from Craner Curves, and up towards the braking area for Coppice, it was Kawasaki’s turn for number one spot, as Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) blasted his way through the sector. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ was just 0.004s ahead of Sykes’ BMW, whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was third and Independent sensation Razgatlioglu fourth. The best Ducati was Alvaro Bautista in seventh, some three tenths off Haslam, suggesting the Ducati Panigale V4 R may not be the bike to be on in the fast, flowing second sector.
Alex Lowes went one position better in sector three, which runs from Coppice to the exit of the Foggy Esses. The Brit’s Yamaha looked like one of the more settled bikes, although the manufacturer overall wasn’t dominant, with the next YZF-R1 in ninth with Cortese. Razgatlioglu and Rea were second and third respectively, showing that Kawasaki was competitive in sector three – especially as Toprak was just 0.001s slower than Lowes. Alvaro Bautista was fourth. Sector three sees the BMW S 1000 RR struggling, with Hickman sixth and Sykes only eighth.
The final sector sees a surprise as Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) is fastest, with the Welshman’s Ducati 0.020s clear of Razgatlioglu in second and Alex Lowes in third. Jonathan Rea was fourth, showing the strength of the Kawasaki in the hard, straight-line-braking areas, whilst Tom Sykes was only fifth. With all four manufacturers so close at the very end of the lap, it could well make for a grandstand finish come the end of the races on Saturday and Sunday.
So, what more can we deduce from the sector times? All four manufacturers mentioned are looking strong, although not one rider features inside the top four places throughout the four sectors. Consequently, a variety of riders across the four manufacturers have good pace at one of the most technical circuits on the calendar, with the contrasting fast and flowing sectors that open the lap, to the slower, stop-start sectors that close the lap. In all, eight riders broke into the top four placing and when converted into lap times, all four manufacturers are covered by just 0.272s.
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