11 May 2012
Donington Park WSBK 2012 - Friday
It's absence is certainly notable and while the intention is perhaps more about making a point, rather than having an effect, we hope it isn't an ominous sign of things to come.
Indeed, Liberty Racing may have moved to reaffirm its commitment to Superbike racing, but key sponsors Effenbert have not...
The Superbikes have been and gone, with Tom Sykes picking up exactly where he left off from Monza by pacing first free practice at Donington Park.
Also fastest in the speed traps (of course...), his nearest rival came in the form of Leon Camier, the former BSB champion no doubt benefiting from having a base setting from FIXI Crescent this weekend.
Smrz and Fabrizio followed up for Ducati and BMW in third and fourth, while Haslam was sixth best on the factory S1000RR.
An early off prevented Rea from completing more than three flying laps, but he was still quick enough for tenth, which placed him just ahead of Carlos Checa, who was on for a fast lap when he crashed with ten minutes remaining.
Davies, Laverty, Hickman, Baz and Mason completed the session in 12th, 15th, 17th, 20th and 23rd respectively.
The Superbikes are out on track pumping in the laps as they reacquaint themselves with the curves and dips of the challenging Donington Park circuit.
Don't forget, we have seven Brits to cheer on this weekend, the regular five being joined by Peter Hickman on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and Gary Mason on the Pedercini Kawasaki.
Then we have some 'adopted' Brits to cheer on, namely ex-BSB favourites Sylvain Guintoli and Loris Baz, though we are sadly missing John Hopkins this weekend.
Despite the British presence, two Italians sit top at the moment, with Melandri leading Fabrizio.
Lowes has gotten his weekend off to a fantastic start by obliterating the opposition in FP1 at Donington Park.
We are cautiously optimistic that he will finally break his victory duck this weekend, but while he has arguably the quickest guy in timed sessions this year, he has found out on numerous occasions that it counts for very little on Sunday.
Then again, maybe it has been written in the stars that his first WSS has to come on home soil...
Following him up in second place is wild-card and adopted Briton Glen Richards, which is an impressive result even before you ponder the last time we saw a Triumph occupy No.2 on a timesheet.
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