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.
One rider who went out to get a “banker” lap was Leon Haslam who was only cleared this morning to ride. Haslam knows the area well as he grew up here and has covered more miles of this track than any other rider on the grid, and if anyone knows how little the weather can be relied upon, it's him. He got into the top fifteen having just ridden two laps, albeit in a field of only nineteen riders.
With Effenbert Liberty Racing having pulled out of the championship, the reduced grid benefitted from the arrival of Ducati test-rider Niccolò Canepa, helping out in developing the 1199R Panigale while Checa is struggling. World Superbike could always count on filling the grid, but this year, it has around five fewer riders than MotoGP. Dorna hope that introducing cost cutting in the series will encourage teams to join in the series in the coming years, but this year will be a short grid.
Tom Sykes unsurprisingly sat at the top of the charts, in spite of a crash as the skies reopened at the end of the timed session. He was followed off at the old hairpin by Jules Cluzel, after which the remaining riders sought shelter from the weather, not risking their health or their bike under the single-bike rule.
In second place, Jonathan Rea made the most of his bike in the conditions, complaining about the wind, a factor at both Donington and Silverstone due to the British habit of making race tracks on old airfields, as much as the rain.
In World Supersport, a similar pattern was followed, with the morning being used to make sure the track still pointed in the same direction and the afternoon used to learn or perfect the track rather than trying to chase a dry race setting. Sam Lowes, a man very familiar with the track, sat the morning session out and waited until the end of the day to blat out four fast laps before returning to comfort in the top slot.
Two days of sun promise to even things out and bring us the action we need.