WorldSBK Donington: Rea returns to dominate FP2

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea was firmly in charge for WorldSBK’s second practice at Donington Park on Friday afternoon.

A late 1’27.016 ensured the Northern Irishman’s position at the top of the times as he once again dominated the 45-minute session from the initial stages. 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu and BMW’s Scott Redding completed the top three from the second KRT of Alex Lowes and championship leader Alvaro Bautista.

A warm but windy afternoon greeted the Superbike class as FP2 got underway. Leon Haslam once again leading the pack out of pitlane on the Pedercini Kawasaki with fellow Brits Redding and Lowes vying for the lead in the standings as the first laps began to register.

Rea took charge overall with a 1’27.428, just as he had in the morning session, from the BWM before his KRT teammate returned to second. Bautista bettered by Bonovo BWM’s Loris Baz and Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani as the Ducati dropped out of the top five.

Redding was back in second as the trio of home talent bickered for position at the top. Michael Rinaldi placing the second machine in contention from fourth before his teammate, and series leader, struck for third and Rea moved the goalposts out front with a 1.27.355.

Razgatlioglu began his afternoon from sixth, 1.2s adrift of the outright pace, with Bassani, Baz, Iker Lecuona and the second Pata Yamaha of Andrea Locatelli completing the top ten. Wildcards Tarran Mackenzie, Haslam and Peter Hickman circulating 13th, 14th and 18th respectively after 10 minutes on track.

An excursion off track found Bassani across the gravel after running wide at turn eight as Lucas Mahias entered the top ten on the Puccetti Kawasaki. While out front, Rinaldi bettered Bautista by a tenth in the battle for third.

Garrett Gerloff launched his GRT Yamaha up to sixth after 20 minutes of action, a 1’28.531 sitting him a tenth shy of Lowes and the same again ahead of the reigning champion as the second runs began. The Turk answering with the second fastest time of the afternoon, a 1’27.567 next time around.

Just Lowes and Bassani were yet to improve on their FP1 times as the second half fired up, with the KRT rider focusing on consistency and long-run pace from sixth in the times. Baz was the next to improve as he claimed the position from the 31-year old, the pair a second adrift of Rea’s benchmark time with less than 20 minutes left on the clock.

Philipp Oettl faced the wrath of Razgatlioglu as he impeded the R1’s charge on the GoEleven Ducati. The German running tenth in the session with a quarter of an hour to go as the Yamaha rider looked to find the two-tenths of a second needed to oust his rival from the top of the times.

Ten minutes to go and the majority of the pack prepared for their final runs. Lowes launching to fifth with his personal best of the day, a 1’27.805, to circulate less than half a second shy of his commanding teammate before improving further, for fourth, next time around.

Rinaldi was challenging as the final five minutes began. The Ducati on pace to head the times through the second split before the final sector denied his progression from sixth.

An all-British battle further down the pack found the three BSB wildcards locked together in 14th-16th with Mackenzie leading Haslam and Hickman before the Pedercini rider found pace with his 17th effort on his way to 9th.

A final effort as the chequered flag dropped saw Rea consolidate his reign with a 1’27.016, now half a second clear of Razgatlioglu in second with Redding, Lowes and Bautista completing the top five. Rinaldi and Baz headed the Yamaha pairing of Locatelli and Gerloff with Haslam dropped to tenth as the session concluded.

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