Ulster duo at ‘home’ at Silverstone
Local lads Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty will be treating this weekend’s Silverstone World Superbike event as a “home” round in their respective championships: World Superbike and World Supersport.
And with 80,000 spectators forecast to spill through the gates of the revamped Northamptonshire venue tomorrow for race day, it’s a chance for both Ulsterman to impress in front of a huge local audience.
Rea currently holds third place in the World Superbike series and, following a double podium at the last round in the Czech Republic – which also included a victory over series leader Max Biaggi – and a prestigious podium only last weekend in Japan at the Suzuka eight-hour event, Rea is on top of his game.
After yesterday’s opening qualifying session on the all-new 5.9-mile Silverstone layout, Rea was only bettered by fellow British rider Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), by 0.4 of a second, with BMW-mounted Troy Corser third, followed by Leon Camier (Aprilia), Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) and James Toseland (Yamaha).
Less than a second covered the top 10 riders, closed out by Yorkshireman Tom Sykes on the PBM Kawasaki. BSB regulars and wildcards for the event, Josh Brookes and Ryuichi Kiyonari, currently languish in 21st and 22nd places.
Toomebridge rider Eugene Laverty was cruelly forced by mechanical problems to relinquish his World Supersport Championship lead during the last round in Brno.
He did not finish and has slipped to third in the series, some 22 points behind new leader and former double world champion, Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda).
Spanish superstar Joan Lascorz, already touted to be taking Tom Sykes’ seat at PBM Kawasaki next season, is second.
Laverty was quickest in the opening free practice session yesterday, ahead of Lascorz and British Supersport regular Billy McConnell.
Moira lad Ian Lowry (IFS Yamaha) is another wildcard, but the former chef’s season looks to be going from bad to worse as he was trading paint with Dario Dell’omo for last place in practice.