Glorious English sunshine ensured that Superpole would come down to the riders and their bikes, without the added chaotic element weather can bring.
In predictable fashion, Tom Sykes once again puts a gap between himself and the rest as he edges ever closer to the outright lap record. Once the qualifier tyres go on, that gap should disappear altogether. One second covers from second to thirteenth place, with Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea managing to beat the Aprilias.
Randy de Puniet has completed his first two-day test on Suzuki's MotoGP machine. The Frenchman flew to Japan directly after the French round of MotoGP at Le Mans, to take part in the test organized at Motegi's Twin Ring circuit, home of the Japanese round of MotoGP, and a circuit owned by Honda.
Under the terms of his testing contract, De Puniet is unable to say anything official, his manager Eric Mahé telling the French magazine Moto Journal only that the test "went well". Suzuki did not publish any times from the test or provide any other information, but as the MotoGP test teams from both Yamaha and Honda were present, it was inevitable that times would leak out. German-language website Speedweek claims the scoop, with times also to be published in the Spanish magazine Motociclismo, which is out on Tuesday.
According to Speedweek, the test took place in excellent conditions, with temperatures of 28°C and a dry track. The German website reports De Puniet as having posted a time of 1'47.0 on Suzuki's new inline four MotoGP machine, though no other confirmation of that time has been forthcoming. In comparison, that is as fast as Honda test rider Takumi Takahashi on the day, and half a second quicker than Yamaha test rider Katsuaki Nakasuga.
Once again, Sam Lowes put himself on the top of the timing sheet ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu, and did so with an outright lap record of 1'30.903, three tenths quicker than that set by Jules Cluzel last year in qualifying. Jack Kennedy continues his good qualifying form, while title contenders Fabien Foret and Michael Van Der Mark languished in 23rd and 10th respectively.
Tom Sykes, enjoying glorious British weather, slotted into his favourite spot and claimed provisional pole. The Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli were very quick from the off, demonstrating the sort of times we'd have had yesterday with better weather, but Eugene Laverty wouldn't do much improving throughout the session. It was left to Leon Camier, the former British Superbike champion demonstrating his experience on the track, to take the last provisional front row. With half a second covering second place back to Jonathan Rea in eighth, it may be reasonably safe to assume who will qualify for the last Superpole session, but the order in which they finish is a lot more mutable.
Both World Superbike and World Supersport were victims of the cold and miserable rain. In the free practice session only five World Superbike riders even recorded a complete lap, with the rest sitting it out. In the afternoon session, as it was a timed session, everyone went out to get a lap in case the rain continued into Saturday, an unlikely event, but not impossible. All predictions, reliability being a benefit of East Midlands airport living next door, point to nothing but sun for both Saturday and Sunday.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the series organizer, after the first day of practice at Donington:
Rain closed the session once more, with Tom Sykes claiming provisional pole position with a time two and a half seconds slower than his qualifying record from last year. Jonathan Rea is making good his promise to perform well here, at a track that doesn't require outright speed, as seen by the top speeds being a good 70kmh slower than at Aragon or Monza.
Sykes crashed out at the old hairpin as the conditions got worse, but he escaped without injury.
Sam Lowes topped the timed session to get provisional pole over a second faster than Kenan Sofuoglu. Lowes left it until late in the session before heading out and only recorded four complete laps, claiming the top spot with three out of those four laps.
The riders are still over ten seconds off the lap record set by Sam Lowes in 2011, and Gabor Talmasci was the fastest man throughout most of the session, setting the fastest lap ten times, until Lowes and Sofuoglu fought for the pole slot. The track conditions are still holding the times up, but the weather promises to improve tomorrow.
So few riders went out on track, as the wet conditions rendered the session useless. Chaz Davies, a rider who last year complained of a lack of wet weather experience, recorded the quickest time of the few daring enough to brave the deluge.
Kenan Sofuoglu managed to put in a fast lap before the rain started to come down at a cold and damp Donington.
Press release previews from the teams and the organizers ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Donington Park:
Jorge Lorenzo's disappointing performance at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans has been the cause of some debate. The factory Yamaha man finished a lowly seventh, his worst finish (other than DNFs) since his rookie season in 2008, and finishing off the podium for the first time since Indianapolis in 2011. To say this was an uncharacteristic performance from Lorenzo is something of an understatement.
So what went wrong? Immediately after the race, Lorenzo made it clear that he believed the problem was with his rear tire. He had had no grip whatsoever, and been unable to get any drive from his rear tire. He told the press afterwards that the only logical explanation he could think of for his problems was a defective rear tire. Lorenzo had been fast in the morning warm up, though it was a little drier then, and the set up used was very similar to then. In 2012, Lorenzo had won at Le Mans by a huge margin, so he could not understand why he was struggling so badly in France.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
The race to arm MotoGP’s private teams with higher-performance CRT bikes is gathering pace. Last summer Honda announced that they will sell a lower-cost version of their RC213V and then two months ago Yamaha confirmed that they will lease YZR-M1 engines from 2014. At Le Mans the whisper going round the paddock was that Aprilia are working on a pneumatic-valve spring cylinder head for their RSV4 CRT engine, which could be ready by September.
The Liberty Racing team has today announced they will be withdrawing from the World Superbike championship. The announcement is hardly a surprise: the Liberty team announced their withdrawal last year after the Silverstone round, missing the final four rounds of the series. The team had not fared much better in 2013, making a late start and missing the first round of the championship in Phillip Island. Now, after just three races, they have pulled out once again.
The withdrawal of the Liberty Racing team leaves Mark Aitchison without a ride for the rest of the season, after the Australian agreed a late deal to ride for the team. It also leaves the World Superbike field looking very sparse, with just 18 full-time entries left on the grid. The World Superbike grid weathered the first storms of the global financial crisis relatively well, due to lower costs of competition, but poor TV coverage of the series for the past few seasons has seen numbers dropping season by season, with the 18-bike grid the result. Dorna and the MSMA hope that the new rules discussed recentlly, limiting the cost of a bike to 300,000 euros per rider per season, will help make the series more affordable, and help swell numbers on the grid.
Below is the official press release issued by Liberty Racing on their withdrawal: