Sykes And Rea Go 1-2 After Strong Early Showing At Donington
May 27, 2016
Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea went 1-2 in the qualifying results after the first day of action in the WorldSBK Championship at Donington Park in the UK. Sykes was just 0.039 seconds ahead of his team-mate Rea, with Rea over 0.3 seconds ahead of the next best qualifier.
The warm and dry track surface was put to good use in the opening day around the classic 4.023km Donington layout. Sykes and Rea got to within less than a second of the outright track best on full race tyres – all while making their main preparations for the races on Saturday and Sunday.
Sykes was particularly surprised at his early pace as he was only working on a race set-up at a circuit he has won all the last six WorldSBK races at. The 2013 World Champion’s affinity with the Donington surface is well known and like all his fellow riders he appreciated the sunny conditions he encountered, despite red flag interventions delaying each one hour-long session for a short period today.
Rea was in happy mood as he worked on a consistent set-up, finding strong pace even on an unfamiliar front tyre towards the end of the afternoon session. The reigning champion worked with two specifications of front Pirelli, to evaluate which one should work best for the races that will take place on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th at Donington.
In terms of lap times Sykes set a 1’27.927 and Rea 1’27.966 today, with the absolute track best being a 1’27.071, posted by Sykes last season. Both KRT riders will now take part in Superpole 2 on Saturday to determine their final grid places for both 23-lap WorldSBK races.
Tom Sykes stated: “I am surprised to be fastest because again we were trying to work on race distance rather than pure speed so I am happy. I feel we have quite a well-balanced bike. We would like to improve in one or two areas, but in this moment I think we have a fairly acceptable bike set-up. The target is to try and improve one more step for tomorrow. It is always a pleasure to ride in Donington when the sun is shining and to go down the Craner Curves is always a pleasure. I am happy, relaxed and tomorrow will be another day where we need to look at making small, small improvements. We are only nine tenths of a second from the Superpole lap and that is achievable with the qualifying tyre. Everything is going in a good way.”
Jonathan Rea stated: “I am quite happy because we learned a lot of things in the first session. We confirmed a lot about the direction we have been going in with set-up. Also my riding style here is a little bit different. I am trying to put the Donington ‘jigsaw’ together because I feel I have never cracked it. It feels like in the second session today I was getting a lot more out of the bike, which was a big positive for me. I feel really positive today and that we can improve again tomorrow. To be close to the pace here, especially to Tom who is super-fast and is the reference, is quite good. It bodes well. Today feels like such a calm day because in the last few race weekends we have been changing the bike a lot and today we have been chipping away with something we know, and it is working.”
WorldSBK regular Roman Ramos (Go Eleven Team Kawasaki) returned to action after injury at the Donington weekend and set the 17th fastest time on day one. After two strong rides at Sepang as a sand-in for the injured Sylvain Barrier, Anthony West (Pedercini Racing Team Kawasaki) was back in action at Donington, going 18th fastest. Sheridan Morais (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) was a new rider for his team at Donington and went 20th quickest today. Dominic Schmitter (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) was 22nd and Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Team Kawasaki) 24th from 25 riders.