In predictable fashion, Tom Sykes once again puts a gap between himself and the rest as he edges ever closer to the outright lap record. Once the qualifier tyres go on, that gap should disappear altogether. One second covers from second to thirteenth place, with Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea managing to beat the Aprilias.
Tom Sykes, enjoying glorious British weather, slotted into his favourite spot and claimed provisional pole. The Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli were very quick from the off, demonstrating the sort of times we'd have had yesterday with better weather, but Eugene Laverty wouldn't do much improving throughout the session. It was left to Leon Camier, the former British Superbike champion demonstrating his experience on the track, to take the last provisional front row. With half a second covering second place back to Jonathan Rea in eighth, it may be reasonably safe to assume who will qualify for the last Superpole session, but the order in which they finish is a lot more mutable.
Both World Superbike and World Supersport were victims of the cold and miserable rain. In the free practice session only five World Superbike riders even recorded a complete lap, with the rest sitting it out. In the afternoon session, as it was a timed session, everyone went out to get a lap in case the rain continued into Saturday, an unlikely event, but not impossible. All predictions, reliability being a benefit of East Midlands airport living next door, point to nothing but sun for both Saturday and Sunday.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the series organizer, after the first day of practice at Donington:
Rain closed the session once more, with Tom Sykes claiming provisional pole position with a time two and a half seconds slower than his qualifying record from last year. Jonathan Rea is making good his promise to perform well here, at a track that doesn't require outright speed, as seen by the top speeds being a good 70kmh slower than at Aragon or Monza.
Sykes crashed out at the old hairpin as the conditions got worse, but he escaped without injury.
So few riders went out on track, as the wet conditions rendered the session useless. Chaz Davies, a rider who last year complained of a lack of wet weather experience, recorded the quickest time of the few daring enough to brave the deluge.
Press release previews from the teams and the organizers ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Donington Park:
The Liberty Racing team has today announced they will be withdrawing from the World Superbike championship. The announcement is hardly a surprise: the Liberty team announced their withdrawal last year after the Silverstone round, missing the final four rounds of the series. The team had not fared much better in 2013, making a late start and missing the first round of the championship in Phillip Island. Now, after just three races, they have pulled out once again.
The withdrawal of the Liberty Racing team leaves Mark Aitchison without a ride for the rest of the season, after the Australian agreed a late deal to ride for the team. It also leaves the World Superbike field looking very sparse, with just 18 full-time entries left on the grid. The World Superbike grid weathered the first storms of the global financial crisis relatively well, due to lower costs of competition, but poor TV coverage of the series for the past few seasons has seen numbers dropping season by season, with the 18-bike grid the result. Dorna and the MSMA hope that the new rules discussed recentlly, limiting the cost of a bike to 300,000 euros per rider per season, will help make the series more affordable, and help swell numbers on the grid.
Below is the official press release issued by Liberty Racing on their withdrawal:
The second batch of post-race press releases after this weekend's World Superbike round at Monza, issued a day later because of the confusion over the results:
Press releases from some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after several incident-packed races at Monza:
Motor racing has been described as drag racing between corners. Never is this adage truer than at Monza. Speed out of corners is paramount, especially out of the Parabolica, the fast last corner that leads on to the equally fast start/finish straight. The faster you exit a corner, the sooner you reach your top speed. Monza has two long straights, both with fast corners leading onto them; this is what makes it different from other tracks with long straights. Fuel limits and tyres come into play in a different way here than any other track on the calendar. The other unique aspect of Monza is the controversies that arise from its uniqueness, and this weekend was no different in that respect.
The last lap of the second World Superbike was frought with controversy after an overtake followed by an off-track excursion. The results of third and fourth place in the race have subsequently been reversed, following an appeal.
The second World Superbike race at Monza once again demonstrated the kind of excitement that only a fast track can deliver.
Eighteen laps at a dry Italian speed track that rewards a clear head and a fast bike.