After a layoff of nearly a month, World Superbikes are back in action this weekend, taking a bold - and some would say foolish - gamble to head to Donington Park in the English Midlands at the end of March. But gambling on both England's fickle weather and the state of the Donington circuit, so close to bankruptcy over the past couple of years, has paid off, and the first day of practice took place under sunny skies and surprisingly pleasant temperatures for the time of year, on a track that was bumpy but ready to race on. The modifications to the track have been well-received in general, with the Foggy Esses having been opened up a little, and now a little faster and smoother.
Max Biaggi is on provisional pole, not usually the place the Roman Emperor is to be found on a Friday afternoon, usually taking another day to get bike and body dialed in and ready to race. While Biaggi will be happy to be competitive this early, it is the Yamahas who are looking strongest, with both Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty on the front row alongside Biaggi. Melandri's transition to World Superbikes has gone off without a hitch so far, and Laverty has also shown little trouble adapting to the 1000s after spending so long in Supersport. The Yamahas are up to speed far earlier than they were in 2010, and showing plenty of promise this year.