BMW’s Tom Sykes dominated the opening WorldSBK practice at Donington Park this morning, opening up a four-tenth advantage over Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu with hometown hero Alex Lowes in third place despite a late crash at Craner Curves.
Sykes set a 1’27.790 at the halfway mark which was a second faster than the pack. Yamaha’s Lowes cut the time back to six-tenths with a 1’28.416 before Razgatlioglu charged into second place with a 1’28.362 and then pulled back another two-tenths to end on a 1’28.167.
But it was disaster for series leader Alvaro Bautista who finished top Ducati in 11th place and 1.430s off the pace with reigning champion Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki in eighth, nine-tenths in arrears.
As Lowes picked himself up from the grass at Craner Curves, fellow Yamaha men Loris Baz and the injured Michael van der Mark upped their games to charge into fourth and fifth places respectively.
Baz laid down a 1’28.482 while the Dutchman, who is riding with a pinned wrist, ended only 0.047s slower than his Ten Kate stablemate.
Pedercini Kawasaki Jordi Torres was hovering around the top five for most of the session and only slipped back to sixth as the Yamaha men charged up the sheets. The Spaniard finished his morning on a 1’28.580 to head Leon Haslam’s factory ZX-10RR by 0.015s.
Haslam was in turn a tenth ahead of team-mate Rea with Isle of Man TT lap record holder Peter Hickman - standing in for the ill Markus Reiterberger - in ninth.
Marco Melandri crashed at Goddards late on and finished in tenth place with Bautista next along. Aruba Ducati team-mate Chz Davies is only a tenth further back.
Eugene Laverty, who is returning after breaking twice as many wrists as van der Mark, finished in 18th and 3.3s off the pace.