Day 1 of the British round of World Superbike at Donington: Jonathan Ray dominates, Toprak Razgatlioglu is not happy with the start of the weekend, and Scott Redding and Loris Baz praise BMW for the welcome M1000RR upgrade.
World Superbike is back at Donington Park, where a year ago Toprak Razgatlioglu beat Jonathan Ray twice to start his journey to victory in the championship. Does he have any chance of repeating his success? The Turk himself thinks the odds are lower than they were in 2021.
Donington is considered the birthplace of the World Superbike, with the very first race in the history of the championship held here in 1988. British riders have always been strong in Donington. Jonathan Ray was in the lead for most of FP1, and only just before the end of the session was he relegated to 2nd place. But in FP2 the Kawasaki Racing Team rider dominated from start to finish of the session. His partner Alex Lowes was in the top 3 for most of FP2.
Toprak Razgatlioglu had the 2nd best result of the day, however, losing half a second to Ray, which is atypical for a Turk. After the practice day, Toprak said he wasn’t happy with the result: he calls Donington Park his favorite track in the championship, and last year he started the weekend much better. But for the PATA Yamaha riders, it was not a very good Friday, Andrea Locatelli finished the day in 15th position, which was also unusual for him.
More interesting, however, is how the weekend is shaping up for the BMW teams! Munich finally gave the teams a big chassis upgrade. The new swingarm has created a real furor.
Scott Redding admitted that today was the first day since the start of the 2022 season in which he “rode a ‘normal’ bike” and “could do whatever he wanted with it.” Redding shot up to No. 3 at the end of FP2, moving Alex Lowes to fourth on the grid. In addition to Redding, Loris Baz said “WOW! Ilya Mikhalchik is back in the BMW Motorrad factory garage as a replacement for Miki van der Mark. Unlike Redding, Michalchik was not given a new swingarm. Whether the result is related to that is unknown, but Ilya finished the day in 20th place. But so far only part of the way through, and qualifying and the first race are on Saturday…
For Aruba. It Racing Ducati will be a tough Saturday as both team riders were outside the top 3: Alvaro Bautista finished the day 5th and Rinaldi finished 6th. Rinaldi started the weekend at Donington with a big fall in Turn 12, which halted his progress.
For Team HRC, the weekend at Donington got off to a slow start, outside the top 10. For Chavi Vieja, who was injured at Misano and had never been to Donington Park, it was a day of learning the track. Iker Lecuona had time after Misano to swing by England and take part in a free track day organized in Donington by an independent promoter, so he already knew what to expect from the British track. Lecuona benefited from this knowledge, but not much – he finished the day in 12th position.