Rea seeking 'middle ground' at 'low grip' Donington, 'best Friday' for Lowes

Kawasaki WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes both inside the top four on day one at a bumpy and slippery Donington Park.
Jonathan Rea, Donington Park WorldSBK 2021
Jonathan Rea, Donington Park WorldSBK 2021
© Gold and Goose

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea began the Donington Park weekend with a confident 2-1 on the Friday practice timesheets for second overall behind Garrett Gerloff.

Rea, who took a perfect sweep of all three wins on WorldSBK's most recent 2019 visit to the British track, set an almost identical 1m 27.8s on soft tyres at the end of both sessions, having started the afternoon with a longer eight-lap run.

“The bike was working pretty well today and straight away I felt a good rhythm. The level of grip of the track is pretty low compared to 2019 but I don’t think there has been a lot of activity here," said the Kawasaki star.

"So it just took a little bit of time to understand and we tried not make too many changes because we expected the track to have more tyre rubber laid down as the day went on.

"We made a set-up change that would increase agility especially in the first two sectors and I felt a big improvement - but it compromised the last two sectors with the heavy braking where I was really strong in FP1.

"So we need to find a middle ground for tomorrow. But I felt quite good and my rhythm was really strong. I could ride in the 1’28 lows so I feel that has put us in good shape for tomorrow.

"We'll keep an eye on the weather, but the target is to win of course and I think we've got the package to do it wet or dry."

Rea, who currently holds a 20-point lead over Yamaha's Toprak Razgatlioglu, was among the riders having some moments on the brakes into the final turn.

"The rear comes up on the brakes, hits the bump and then the engine braking tries to guess how much engine braking to give you when it lands," Rea told Dorna's Steve English after the session.

"Sometimes you'll see my outside leg come off as well as the inside, but it looks much looser than it feels on the bike!"

On the other side of the Team Green garage, Alex Lowes improved from eighth in the morning to fourth in the afternoon during his belated home debut on the ZX-10R.

"It's amazing to be back here and also see the fans at the edge of the track," said Lowes, who starts the British round holding fourth in the world championship but seeking his first podiums since the Aragon opener.

“I did not feel quite right this morning so I did not really push, I just did some laps to learn the Kawasaki on this track.

"In the afternoon we used our base setting, more or less, from the last few tests, and we tried a couple of things on the electronics to help stop the bike kicking going into the corners and I felt quite good from the start. I was able to do a lot of good, fast consistent laps.

"The bike's are sliding a lot for everyone but tyre life doesn't seem to be too much of a problem and it was a positive afternoon. I did not feel like I was pushing too hard. The pace was strong so it was probably my best Friday of the season.

"The biggest challenge could be the weather this weekend, but we'll try and get some bubbly!"

FP3 will take place on Saturday morning following by the Superpole qualifying session and then Race 1 on Saturday afternoon.

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