Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes swapped places at the top again as the wet track dried out and the riders got within half a second of lap record pace. Lorenzo Savadori made a surprise appearance in provisional third place, ahead of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty, and the Alpaca-haired Bradley Ray, double winner at this track in British Superbike earlier in the year, was the quickest wildcard, earning himself direct access to Superpole two.
Donington, Great Britain
Federico Caricasulo was the quickest of the five Yamahas at the top, leading Lucas Mahias, Jules Cluzel, Sandro Cortese and Randy Krummenacher on a track that had almost completely dried up from this morning's downpour. Everyone was quicker than the first session, apart from Kyle Smith who didn't record a laptime, and only three riders missed out on the 107% qualifying threshold.
As the rain stopped falling on the still-damp track, everyone improved on their morning's times, with Tom Sykes, the rider with the most victories around this circuit, coming out on top, over half a second quicker than his Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea. Rea said yesterday that there must be something in the tea bags round here that gives Sykes extra pace, as shown by his nine victories in his last five visits here.
As the British weather continued to be British, Lucas Mahias continued to be an endurance rider at heart, setting a time at the end of the session that was almost a second quicker than Jules Cluzel's quickest time. Ant West shored up his reputation as an uncannily quick man in the rain, ending the session third quickest, just over a second off Mahias's time, and one of only three men under 1'46.
Just like the World Superbike session, six riders missed the 107% qualifying mark.
Jonathan Rea swept in late to take the top spot in a very wet session dominated, until that point, by his teammate Tom Sykes. Six riders were outside the 107% required for qualification, with three of them not even setting a laptime. Loris Baz, a perennial front-runner in the wet, was third quickest and Leon Camier, returning from injury, was just over two seconds off Rea's quickest time in fourth place.
With the unpredictable British weather promising to live up to its reputation, it is unlikely any lap records will be broken this weekend.
Press releases from the organizers and some of the teams in WorldSBK:
A bunch of British heroes
Round 6 of the 2018 WorldSBK championship sees the paddock head for the home of Superbikes; Donington Park. The British circuit hosted the first ever round of the championship in 1988 and since then the affinity for Superbike racing in the UK has only continued to grow. The spectacular, flowing track has been the canvas for some of the most incredible moments in the history of the class but will this weekend be remembered in the same light?
Like all the great gladiators Jonathan Rea is having to look over his shoulder for a new threat. The Northern Irishman is on the cusp of breaking new ground in WorldSBK with a 60th victory around the corner, but this weekend could be a struggle. Donington is a circuit that should suit the likes of Yamaha and even Aprilia this year and Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Eugene Laverty are all fired up to prove their worth as they aim to secure their Superbike futures.
A first time winner?
Lowes and Van der Mark are the obvious options for a new winner in the classm but don't sleep on Leon Camier. This trio of riders are all deserving of claiming their first SBK victories and with almost 400 starts between them this trio of are overdue a victory. With a WorldSSP champion and two British championships on their combined CV it's only a matter before they finally break their duck. Could it be this weekend?
Sykes rights the ship
The FIM today released the provisional 2018 WorldSBK version. Just as last year, the schedule contains thirteen rounds, spread out from February to late October. Two circuits visited in 2017 are out, Jerez and the Lausitzring, while Brno makes a return to the WorldSBK schedule, and a brand new circuit in the west of Argentina, near the border with Chile.
The schedule starts as ever at Phillip Island in Australia on 25th February, with the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes competing. As is traditional, the race is preceded a couple of days earlier by a two-day official test. The start of the series is once again rather fragmented, however, as WorldSBK fans will have to wait four weeks for the second round of the series at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
The provisional calendar for the 2018 MotoGP season has been released, and as expected, there are few surprises. The schedule has been expanded to 19 races with the inclusion of the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which has a contract to host a race through 2020.
The addition of Thailand hasn't altered the schedule much. The 2018 schedule is almost identical to this year's calendar, with just a few minor variations. The season kicks off a week early in Qatar, and to accommodate that earlier start, the time of the race is to be changed to 7pm local time. Starting earlier will mean that MotoGP avoids the evening dew that can render the track so treacherous.
The WorldSBK paddock and the racing community came together at Donington Park to pay tribute to Nicky Hayden but after two great races in the Superbike class, a Supersport race that saw great battles and a Supersport 300 race that saw a three rider scrap for the win, it was the racing that paid the biggest tribute to The Kentucky Kid.
The weekend started and ended on an emotional note but it was Kawasaki that took the spoils with a dominant weekend that saw the Japanese marque claim Superbike, Superstock and Supersport honors. With victories for Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea the manufacturer also clocked up their 100th victory in WorldSBK.
In parc ferme after the race the release of emotion was clear to see with both riders enjoying the moment with the team. The celebratory mood started with Rea giving his son, Jake, a lift into the closed area on the tank of his ZX10-RR and from that point onwards it was clear how much the win meant for the world champion.