Rea fights back after crash to take command in qualifying
Reigning World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea suffered a low-speed first crash of the season when he tipped off onto the grass at Donington Park's Melbourne Loop 10 minutes into the first practice session yesterday ahead of the sixth round of the series this weekend.
Unperturbed and uninjured, Rea rode back to his pit box and, after a brief stop to check the Kawasaki was undamaged, the 30-year-old returned to the track and dominated the rest of the opening and second sessions to top qualifying ahead of today's Superpole and opening race.
Rea put down a marker with the fastest lap of the day of 1m 27.740sec, with his team mate and the winner of the last eight WSB races at Donington, Tom Sykes, 0.122sec behind and current British Superbike Championship leader Leon Haslam, in a wild card ride for Puccetti Kawasaki, third.
Rea said: "In the afternoon session we set off with the intention of doing a long run. We did a race simulation which was okay and we have a lot of good information now for the first race. This is the best I have felt here and we still have room for improvement."
Arch-rival Sykes said: "We need to dial in a couple of things ahead of race one, but plan A is the same as always - go out and try to win both races."
The only non-British rider in the top six after practice was Italian Marco Melandri in fourth position ahead of Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes.
Eugene Laverty, testing some new parts on his Milwaukee Aprilia, ended the day in 12th position.
In World Supersport practice Dubliner Jack Kennedy was 10th fastest, less than a second behind provisional pole position man PJ Jacobsen, while Eglinton rider David Allingham was 16th fastest, just a second behind American Jacobsen.
Meanwhile, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was taken to hospital with mild thoracic and abdominal injuries following a motocross crash.
The 38-year-old Italian spent the night in Rimini hospital, but there were no complications for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider and he is expected to be discharged today.