Yamaha’s Alex Lowes bounced back from a WorldSBK first practice Craner Curves crash to run Tom Sykes close for top spot on the opening day of practice at Donington Park today.
Even though the BMW man stayed fastest for the day, dropping his laptime by a fraction to 1’27.733, Lowes was only 0.018s slower than the Hudderfield rider and it was only a slow final sector on his quickest lap that meant he didn’t take bragging rights.
The top five riders were covered by a little over a tenth of a second as the chequered flag waved. Toprak Razgatlioglu ended in third place despite crashing at Goddards with a minute left to run while reigning champion Jonathan Rea claimed fourth place with a 1’27.812.
Leon Haslam ended his day in fifth place and only 0.126s off the pace after 35 laps of his home circuit on the works ZX-10RR.
In terms of pace, Lowes is the man to watch as he posted five 1’27s laps with an extra ten in the 1’28s. Sykes managed three 1’27s and three 1’28s while Razgatlioglu also did five in the 1’27s and nine 1’28s. Rea, usually king of the race simulation, had only one 1’27 but 11 1’28s.
Series leader Alvaro Bautista made serious progress from FP1, finding 1.2s over the lunch break to finish in sixth place overall and GRT Yamaha’s Sandro Cortese was in a similar boat, increasing his pace by 1.4s to end just behind Bautista.
Loris Baz took his Ten Kate Yamaha to eighth with Chaz Davies ninth and Jordi Torres tenth.
Michael van der Mark, riding with a pinned wrist, was slower this afternoon than this morning and slipped back to 11th while BMW replacement rider Peter Hickman ended in 12th place despite finding four-tenths.
Marco Melandri was 13th with Tati Mercado and Michael Rinaldi completing the top 15. Eugene Laverty, who is riding injured after breaking both wrists at Imola, was 18th with a 1’30.409.