WorldSBK Donington: Razgatlioglu denies Rea in FP1| Christina Bulpett | WorldSBK
WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu took control of the FP1 times with a late 1’27.805 effort on Friday morning at Donington Park.
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea settled for second after dominating from the outset with Michael Rinaldi demoting local rider Alex Lowes for third as the session completed.
The British summer brought 18℃ temperatures for the opening free practice on Friday morning as the FIM Superbike World Championship returned to its historic home. Six-time Champion Rea and the returning Leon Haslam - wildcarding with Pedercini Kawasaki once again - were the first out the blocks before the rest of the 26-strong pack followed suit.
KRT’s Rea and Lowes lead the way in the initial times as the first laps registered with the Northern Irishman pushing a 1’27.939 effort from the off. BMW’s Scott Redding and Loris Baz battling Razgatlioglu for second position before Lowes once again returned to back up his teammate, half a second adrift.
BSB Champion Tarran Mackenzie was the last to leave pitlane as his debut in the World Championship eventually got up to speed seven minutes into the session. His Pata Yamaha colleague Razgatlioglu striking for third in the standings as Lowes fine-tuned his time to just over a tenth off the outright pace.
Locatelli was the first to succumb to the Leicestershire layout, with a crash at turn 12 from 16th in the times. His wildcard cohort bettering him for position as Mackenzie set a 1’30.783 as his opening gambit with FHO’s Peter Hickman seven tenths ahead.
Class leader Alvaro Bautista sat fifth after 15 minutes on track as the Spaniard circulated ahead of countryman Iker Lecuona before the Ducati found third next time around. Aruba.it teammate Rinaldi heading Puccetti’s Lucas Mahias, Haslam and Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani in the top ten with Baz and GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl narrowly adrift.
Mackenzie and Hickman continued to navigate their new machines on the edge of the top 15 as the session continued. Oettl making a case for top ten contention thanks to a 1’28.913 for ninth as the second half fired up while Goddards caught out Razgatlioglu as the R1 ran wide at the final corner.
A difficult return from injury found Xavi Vierge navigate Donington for the first time from 22nd on the Honda Fireblade as his teammate ran seventh. Bautista consolidating third with a 1’28.164 as the final ten minutes began as Razgatlioglu split the two Ducati’s in the top five. The remaining Yamahas struggling in 13th, 16th, 17th and 19th as Garett Gerloff headed the lacklustre group on the GRT.
Rinaldi struck for second, 0.04s ahead of Lowes, as the final five minutes fired up. Hickman bettered Gerloff for 13th as Bassani ahead looked for improvement. The Ducati man promoting the Motocorsa to seventh next time around.
Razgatlioglu claimed control of the session in the penultimate minute with a 1’27.805 as Rea, Bautista and Redding all attempted to challenge. The threats fading as the laps played out with the defending champion securing the early spoils.