WSBK: Rea sets Friday pace after practice spill

Jonathan Rea was fastest in both free practice sessions at Donington Park.
Jonathan Rea was fastest in both free practice sessions at Donington Park.
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Jonathan Rea made his intentions crystal clear as the World Superbike champion topped the times during free practice at Donington Park.

Rea, who leads the title race by 74 points heading into Saturday’s first race (3pm), led the way in both free practice sessions at the Leicestershire circuit, where the Ulster rider is aiming to halt his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes’ stunning run of eight consecutive victories.

The 30-year-old bounced back after a minor spill at the Melbourne Loop in FP1 when he ran onto the grass, posting the fastest time of the day in 1m 27.740s to lead Sykes by 0.122 seconds.

Wildcard rider Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team) was third quickest as the Ninja ZX-10RR filled the top three places.

Rea, who has won seven of the 10 races held so far this season and finished as the runner-up three times, said: “I’m reasonably happy for the first day and the bike seems to be kind of in the ballpark. It doesn’t seem to be turning so well in the fast changes of direction but aside from that, the balance is pretty good.

“Unfortunately our session was cut short because I made a mistake a few laps into the session. My lever came right back to the bar and everything was under control, but I ran onto the grass and toppled over.

“I felt like such an amateur because it was a silly mistake on the grass on my behalf but aside from that, session two went good. We started off with a race simulation and it wasn’t incredible, but we have some good information to improve now for tomorrow. All in all I’m happy with today’s work.”

Chaz Davies was fourth fastest on the Aruba.it Ducati, four tenths back on Rea.

His team-mate, Marco Melandri, and British rider Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) were the top six.

Eugene Laverty was 12th fastest on the Milwaukee Aprilia.

In the World Supersport class, wildcard rider David Allingham was 16th fastest on the combined times.