The morning's heavy rain finally let up, allowing riders to really twist the throttle at Donington this afternoon as they sought the best possible lap time. Despite the poor visibility and cold conditions, times came down by around ten seconds with respect to FP2, with Johnny Rea setting a best of 1’28”003.
An impressive performance by the Cannibal then, who powers his ZX-10RR into the lead, two tenths ahead of Tom Sykes (+0.204), who as we know has won at the English track on nine occasions. The afternoon also brought a pleasant surprise, or rather the Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori in third place. The Italian may be just over half a second from Rea (+0.537), but seeing the RSV4 hot on the heels of the Kawasaki is an encouraging and pleasing sign.
Eugene Laverty closed two places further back (+0.647), with Alex Lowes coming in 0.083 of a second ahead of him on the Yamaha. The other R1, that of Michael van der Mark, finished sixth (+0.765).
A disappointing afternoon for Ducati on the other hand. Marco Melandri found himself settling for tenth, a last gasp effort granting him direct access to SP2 (+1.276). The Italian is more than a second off the pace though. Things went even worse for Chaz Davies, who suffered a crash at turn 2 and was transported to the clinica mobile for further checks. He has no serious injuries, but closed the day just sixteenth, more than a second and a half from the front (+1.716).
The local riders end the day with a smile on their faces, starting with Leon Haslam, who closes seventh ahead of Loris Baz on the BMW. And what about youngster Bradley Ray, able to power the Suzuki into ninth ahead of Melandri on the Panigale. Luke Mossey just missed out on the top ten, having been called in to replace Hernandez on the Pedercini Kawasaki. Thirteenth for Leon Camier followed by Niccolò Canepa.