The 18-year-old became the first Brazilian in the entire history of the WorldSBK paddock to take a pole position, as stars fell hard in both sessions.
As the rain continued to drench the Donington Park circuit, the WorldSSP300 riders took to the track and put in strong lap times, combatting the weather in the best way possible. It was a history-making two Tissot Superpole sessions, as Ton Kawakami (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) took his first pole position, becoming the first Brazilian rider to take a WorldSSP300 pole position and the first pole for a Brazilian rider in the entire WorldSBK paddock.
With Group A taking to the circuit first, the Brazilian rider took advantage of the bad weather, which often acts as a great leveller in motorcycle racing. Kawakami left it late to go to the top, pinching pole position from Indonesian rider, Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing). Hendra Pratama was demoted to third overall, as Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) went top of Group B but only second overall.
Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) moved up the order in Group A and finished fourth overall to the head of row two. Perez is ahead Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who suffered a small crash during Group B, whilst he is ahead of Dorren Loureiro (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), who completes row two.
There were numerous shocks in the WorldSSP300 Tissot Superpole, most notably with Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), who need to go through the Last Chance Race. Ana Carrasco, who won at Misano to go second in the championship, was only 16th on combined times. Having won at Donington Park last season, Carrasco will want to fight hard to try and get back to the front this year.
Perhaps the biggest story of the Tissot Superpole session was that the championship leader, Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), who crashed heavily at Redgate Corner (Turn 1), needing medical assistance. He was taken to the medical centre for a check-up, with more updates to follow. There were numerous crashes in the sessions, with Verdoïa, De Cancellis, Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team), Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) and Omar Bonoli (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) to name all but a few of the crashers.
In the afternoon, WorldSSP300 action returned for the Last Chance Race, determining the six riders which will go up to join the main grid for the main race on Sunday. It was a fierce race which saw many accidents, although some unexpected names make it through to Sunday action for the first time, too.
With the race getting underway, wildcard Kade Verwey (Team XG Racing) took the lead, putting on a show in front of his home crowd, in a bid to try and make a name for himself and get through to Sunday’s race. However, as he dropped back through the order, he found himself surrounded by faster riders. Attempting to make up time, Verwey crashed but in the process, wiped out joint-second in the championship, Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), as the Dutchman had to go through the Last Chance Race for the first time.
At the flag, it was Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) who prevailed ahead of the chasing pack, after they had spread out. He won, ahead of Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team), Robert Schotman (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), Manuel Bastianelli (Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki), Paolo Giacomini (Kawasaki GP Project) and Beatriz Neila (BCD Yamaha MS Racing). Giacomini makes it through to the Sunday race for the first time this season.
Pole Position – Ton Kawakami (BCD Yamaha MS Racing)
“I am really happy to take this result on such a difficult race track. Today conditions were really tricky and the circuit was extremely slippery but in the final 30 seconds, I did my maximum and set the fastest lap. I took the pole position, but now I just want to focus on tomorrow. My goal is to finish the race in a scoring point position”.
#GBRWorldSBK WorldSSP300 at Donington Park:
1. Ton Kawakami (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) 1’52.914
2. Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) 1’53.025
3. Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) 1’53.047