World SBK 2012 – Round Five – Donington
–  History for BMW and Melandri, dramatic win for Rea

A 48,500 strong crowd saw some astounding race action at Donington in two sun-blessed 23-lap races, which culminated in a moment of history for one of the world’s most important motorcycle manufacturers, some of the best SBK racing ever seen and changes near the top of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship table.

After Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) won the first race, the German manufacturer added its name to the list of race-winning makes for the very first time. In race two a classic multi-rider battle ended up in joy and heartbreak for some top riders, as Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) came out on top after a final corner melee.

The end result of one of the best days of racing imaginable is that Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) leads the championship with 128.5 points, from double podium man Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) on 123, and Rea on 108. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) is fourth on 105.5. The top four championship places are now covered by only 23 points, after five rounds and nine individual races.

- Race 1

A truly historic 1-2 for BMW saw Melandri win the opening race with his team-mate Leon Haslam only 0.728 seconds behind. An eventual five rider fight for the podium places provided overtaking and personal duels aplenty as the race order changed multiple times. Tissot-Superpole winner Sykes won a tense battle to go third, with Rea making up places in the final laps to overhaul Biaggi and take fourth. The leading five were covered by only 2.102 seconds at the end of the race. Checa was sixth, four seconds from the win, making it five different manufacturers in the top six at the flag. Melandri’s win also means that six different riders have now won races this year, representing five different manufacturers – and all with nine rounds and 18 races left to go.

Marco Melandri: “It means a lot to me to win this for such a good factory like BMW, it’s history and something I could not dream about when I was young. I just want to say thanks to BMW in Germany, the team on track and everybody involved in the project. We have been working so hard and we never give up even when we found some difficulties. We are working still right now to stay at the top and I am so happy to be here. I had good race pace yesterday and today the tyres have been working very good until the end. We managed the situation well but at the beginning I was not so fast, but fortunately Tom and Leon were fighting a lot so they lost a bit of time and we could catch them again. We are so happy for this win.”

Leon Haslam: “I found myself on the wrong side of Marco, on the right side of him into the Esses and I nearly went into the back off him so I had to let off the brakes and I am disappointed because I did feel quite good up to that point. Fair play to Marco and we got a BMW 1-2 which is fantastic. Hopefully we can make amends in the next one and not make that mistake. I want to dedicate this result to the late Robert Fearnall, who was a big, big friend of the family and Donington.”

Tom Sykes: “A fantastic race, I really enjoyed it and it certainly felt like a long, seemed to go on for many laps. Overall I think we had a very good show, lots of passing, and a little bit too much at some corners, especially at the Foggy Esses, which seemed to claim a few victims. Overall I am very happy to be on the podium and collecting some good solid points again with the Ninja ZX-10R. Unfortunately we seemed to struggle at one particular part of the track and that definitely affected our race performance, but hopefully we can improve on that very small sector and go better in race two. As for now a podium is good enough.”

Results: 1. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 34’26.736; 2. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 0.728; 3. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1.609; 4. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1.819; 5. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.102; 6. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 4.820; 7. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 7.520; 8. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 7.927; 9. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 15.144; 10. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 16.065; 11. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 19.805; 12. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 20.170; 13. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 21.274; 14. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 21.517; 15. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 26.920; 16. Baz L. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35.025; etc.

- Race 2

Rea took his second win of the season after an incident-strewn Race 2 at Donington. On the first corner Checa and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) touched and Checa went down, taking out Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati) and Checa’s team-mate Davide Giugliano. Then Laverty himself crashed heading down Craner Curves as eventual third place man Sykes led for most of race distance. He was finally overhauled by a warring faction which included eventual second place man Biaggi plus Haslam and Melandri.

After a multitude of overtakes and riders running off track on occasion, Haslam looked to have it won until both he and Melandri ran wide as the Italian attempted a pass into the very last corner and Rea pushed inside as a gap opened up. He and Haslam collided and Haslam fell, knocking off Melandri with his stricken bike as he slid across the track. Rea held on to win by just over half a second from Biaggi, with Sykes two second back in third place. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) was an impressive fourth.

Jonathan Rea: “In the last corner there were five guys out there wanting to win a race, most of all Melandri came from a long way back on Leon to create a gap that I went for, me and Leon touched and I’m really sorry that he crashed. But more importantly we’ve won, taken 25 points and I’ve given my team a great reward for giving me a great bike this weekend.”

Max Biaggi: “In race 2 the bike was a little better, I could keep up and race with the guys more than before. When the tyre went off I was struggling and then the last lap was simple, everyone tried to go inside and take my position: Melandri, Jonathan, everybody! I didn’t give up, stayed cool and second place came automatically. I cannot say I’m very happy but the result is OK.”

Tom Sykes: “Yet again we got the holeshot and led for a number of laps, but I was missing a bit of feeling with the wind, which was unfortunate. I managed to stay out front but made one mistake and all the other guys came past at a rate of knots. We didn’t quite have the best setting this weekend but a pole position and two podiums is great for myself and the Kawasaki team. I had the best seat in the house for the last couple of laps, but for me five minus two equals a podium so I’m very happy!”

Results: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 34’31.847; 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 0.508; 3. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 2.029; 4. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 4.245; 5. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 6.595; 6. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 17.469; 7. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 17.788; 8. Baz L. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 21.093; 9. Hickman P. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 21.866; 10. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 22.620; 11. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 26.764; 12. Zanetti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 27.043; 13. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 28.390; 14. Aitchison M. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 56.618; 15. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 1’20.196; etc.

Points (after 5 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 128.5; 2. Sykes 123.5; 3. Rea 108; 4. Checa 105.5; 5. Melandri 97.5; 6. Haslam 89; 7. Guintoli 85; 8. Laverty 65; 9. Giugliano 50; 10. Smrz 44.5; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 161.5; 2. Aprilia 139; 3. BMW 131; 4. Kawasaki 129.5; 5. Honda 112; 6. Suzuki 40.5.

- World Supersport
In winning his first ever WSS race British rider Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) became the fifth different winner in five races this season and the third in a row on a Honda machine. Having struggled on with a stomach bug of some kind since Friday, and suffering a serious finger injury in a fall on Saturday, Lowes had to work hard to resist a late push from eventual second place finisher, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini). Lowes came within 0.003 seconds of setting a new lap record in his efforts to keep the Turkish rider behind him on the penultimate lap, and is now only six points from Sofuoglu in the championship. Third place today was taken by third ranked rider overall, Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda). Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) was in the early fight for the podium places but dropped back to fourth, while Glen Richards (Smiths Gloucester Triumph) finished fifth today and Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) sixth.

Results: 1. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 33’43.603; 2. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 0.678; 3. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 3.987; 4. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 8.088; 5. Richards G. (AUS) Triumph Daytona 675 11.786; 6. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 20.849; 7. Quarmby R. (RSA) Honda CBR600RR 23.795; 8. Debise V. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 24.094; etc.

Points (after 5 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 81; 2. Lowes 76; 3. Cluzel 64; 4. Foret 55; 5. Parkes 42; 6. Baldolini 38; 7. Quarmby 34; 8. Morais 27; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 111; 2. Kawasaki 106; 3. Triumph 51; 4. Yamaha 43; 5. Suzuki 6.

Pirelli – “This weekend on English soil provided truly great and heated races for both Superbike and Supersport. The work done during the tests at Imola proved to be very important: in Superbike the R302 solution for the rear, developed from this year’s standard SC1, designed to work at lower temperatures and to prevent cold tearing, was quite popular with pretty much all the riders. In Supersport as well, the R303, also a development of the SC1, was chosen by various riders. For this reason, given the excellent feedback received, we will definitely see these two solutions again in some of the future championship races. The Superbike Championship competition is very tight every year, and this year is no exception: in race two six different manufacturers crossed the finish line in the top six places, which shows just how much Pirelli’s work contributes to placing all the teams in optimum conditions to be able to realistically aspire to the world title. In addition to congratulations to Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea, respectively the winners of race 1 and race 2, my compliments go to Max Biaggi who had the best lap in both races as well as Sam Lowes, current ranking leader of the Pirelli Supersport best lap awards” – Giorgio Barbier, Racing Director, Pirelli Moto

– BMW Report

The long awaited next milestone has been achieved: Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport has climbed onto the top step on the podium. At Donington (GBR), the team not only celebrated its first victory in the FIM Superbike World Championship, but also its first ‘one-two’ in the series. Factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) as winner and Leon Haslam (GBR) being second gave BMW Motorrad the perfect finish in race one in today’s fifth round of the 2012 season.

It was an exciting road leading to the historic first victory in race one. Starting from second, Leon took the lead immediately by passing pole-sitter Tom Sykes (GBR). Marco maintained his third position. At the end of lap four, Sykes passed Leon again, while Marco was successfully defending attacks from Max Biaggi (ITA). On lap 12, Leon fought his way back into the lead, and when Marco passed Sykes on lap 14 for second, the two BMW riders started their nail-biting battle for victory, changing positions at the very top several times. Then, with three laps to go, Leon went wide onto the grass, slipping back to third behind Sykes. Marco was able to open a gap and get the first victory, while Leon did not give up the fight and overtook Sykes for second at the beginning of the last lap, securing the double triumph for BMW Motorrad.

Today was close to being a dream Sunday for the Bavarian team, with Leon being on his way to home victory and Marco lying in second at the last corner of the second race, but racing can be more than tough: They were denied another well-deserved triumph when an over-optimistic manoeuvre by another rider forced both to crash. From the start, they fought a breathtaking battle with Sykes, Biaggi and Jonathan Rea (GBR) for the top positions. With seven laps to go, Leon took the lead, determined to celebrate the next BMW victory on his home soil. Meanwhile Marco succeeded in the battle for second and there was just one corner to go to another ‘one-two’. In this last corner, the too ambitious final attack by another rider forced Leon into a crash. Leon’s bike slid across the asphalt and hit Marco’s RR with the Italian’s race ending in the gravel. Leon was classified 15th and Marco as retired. Rea won ahead of Biaggi and Sykes.

In the Rider’s Championship, Marco is fifth with 97.5 points, followed by Leon, who is sixth with 89 points. In the Manufacturers’ Standings BMW improved to second after race one, but slid back to third with 131 points after race two. BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team’s Michel Fabrizio (ITA) was tenth and 13th, his team-mate Ayrton Badovini (ITA) 11th and sixth.

Marco Melandri:
Result Race 1: 1st / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:28.999 min
Result Race 2: DNF / Gap to 1st: 1 lap / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:29.138 min
“It is an awesome feeling for me to put my name in the history books of a factory like BMW Motorrad. I could not have dreamt of this when I was young. I just want to say thank you to BMW Motorrad in Germany, to the team at the track and to everybody involved in the project. We have been working so hard and we have never been close to giving up, even when we have had some difficulties. We will keep pushing, and I am more than happy.

I am disappointed with the result of the second race. I was trying to pass Leon in the final corner, although I knew it would be difficult but I am a racer and I had to try. I ran a little wide and expected Leon to pass me back – finishing second would have been ok for me. Then Leon was hit and he crashed. His bike hit me and I crashed too. I feel sorry for both of us but that’s racing. We now have to keep our heads up high and look forward to Salt Lake City where we hope to be fighting for wins again.”

Leon Haslam:
Result Race 1: 2nd / Gap to 1st: 00:00.728 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:29.097 min
Result Race 2: 15th / Gap to 1st: 01:20.196 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:39.308 min
“What a day. I had a good pace in race one. In the end, I have to say that I am kind of disappointed with the second place. I had a big wobble out of Coppers and it actually put me on the right hand side of Marco instead of the left, and he braked a bit earlier that lap. I had nowhere to go, so I opted for the gravel. It was kind of a combination of things that caught me out but fair play to Marco. A BMW 1-2 result is just fantastic. Right now I just want to forget race 2. I feel a bit frustrated because I was going for my first win for BMW Motorrad – at my home round, but we were denied that well deserved victory. The crash was not my fault at all… Anyway, that’s racing, and we’re now looking forward to the next round. Hopefully we can turn things around at the next race meeting at Salt Lake City. I want to dedicate my race 1 result to Robert Fearnall, who was a close friend of the family.”

Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director):
“The first race was absolutely thrilling. We saw bike-to-bike action, and our opponents gave us a hard time on the track. Marco’s race was impressive: He organized his race excellently, showed great overtaking ability and consequently deserved the victory. For us it is even more satisfying to see that Leon was also able to showcase his talent. He also had great battles on the track and completed BMW Motorrad’s first double victory in World Superbikes. This 1-2 is the result of the hard work of everyone involved in this project – in Munich, in Stephanskirchen and at the track. A big Thank You to our riders and the whole team.

The second race was again great – until the last corner. It is just too disappointing to see both riders crash blamelessly when leading the pack into the final corner of the race. Now we have to keep our heads up and look forward to Salt Lake City. We hope to fight for wins there as well.”

– Suzuki Report

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier produced his best ride of the season so far in today’s second race from the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park in England.

Camier was lucky to escape a first corner crash – that cost him some valuable time – and then got stuck behind Eugene Laverty, before passing the Irishman and chasing down the group in front. Camier caught and passed Sylvain Guintoli and looked to be heading for a comfortable, and impressive, sixth before drama on the last corner saw the BMWs of Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri collide. This incident gave Camier the chance to take an unexpected, but ultimately well deserved fourth. His pace in the latter parts of the race matched the front-runners and, but for the avoiding action he had to take on the first corner, he could have been right amongst the battle for podium honours. Camier made it a double of top-10 finishes today after bringing his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R home in a hard-fought ninth in the first race.

Peter Hickman made an impressive debut in the World Superbike Championship by racing his FIXI Crescent Suzuki to ninth place in race two. He made a good start and was quickly up into a point-scoring position from 19th on the grid, before catching and overtaking more experienced riders on his way to 11th by lap 19. Hickman rode hard for the remainder of the race to preserve his place, before finally bringing his machine home in ninth after the last corner incident. Hickman’s first race was cut short by a small electrical issue that forced him to pit early on, his crew were able to trace the trouble and get him back on track, but he was too many laps behind and finished the race as not classified; although he did collect some valuable data that will assist the team as it moves forward.

Today’s races were held in dry, sunny, but windy conditions, with track temperatures getting up to 18°C this afternoon. The first race of the day was won by Marco Melandri on a BMW, with Jonathan Rea on a Honda taking the spoils in race two. Italian Max Biaggi leads the Championship, with Tom Sykes second and Rea in third.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now head across the Atlantic for the sixth round of the season as it travels to Miller Park near Salt Lake City in the state of Utah for the next race on Monday May 28th, where the team hope they will be re-joined by John Hopkins, who was forced to miss today’s races due to an injury he suffered last weekend at Monza in Italy.

Leon Camier: “I had the pace this weekend to be with the top guys and it felt good fighting and catching them today. In race one, there was a problem with the brakes and I couldn’t get into the turns the way I wanted and that prevented me from catching the guys at the front. We changed to a softer rear tyre for race two. My start was OK and if I hadn’t been held up for so long by Laverty and Guintoli I’m sure I would’ve been challenging for the podium at the end. It was a really enjoyable race and great fun catching people and passing them.”

Peter Hickman: “I had an electrical problem in race one and had to pull into the pits after just two laps. The guys fixed it and I went out again, but by then I had lost too much time to make any impact on the top 15. Fortunately there were no problems in race two and I was able to run consistently fast and chip away at the people in front of me one by one. My fastest lap was on lap 17 and I am really, really happy with how much I’ve learnt this weekend – getting ninth today was like a win for me! I would like to give huge credit to the team for building such a brilliant bike and working so hard to help me this weekend and I would also like to say a big thank you to everybody at FIXI Crescent Suzuki for giving me this chance.”

Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “We’ve had a much better weekend here at Donington than we have had recently and it’s been good to see some smiles returning to the garage. Leon rode fantastically in the second race and could easily have been challenging for the podium if he’d have gotten away with the front group and not been held up.

“Peter did an excellent job for us this weekend. He came in a last-minute replacement after we lost John and he has done everything – and more – of what was asked of him. His ninth place is a good reward for him for his hard work.

“I would also like to thank the whole crew who worked tirelessly this weekend to give Leon and Peter bikes that they could be competitive on. We will now go to Miller in a positive frame of mind and hopefully we’ll Have John back with us.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal: “This weekend has been the strongest for the team since the start of the season. The only blip was in race one when Leon struggled with a combination of braking problems and tyre choice, and Peter had an electrical problem. An earth lead connector broke, but the team fixed it and got him out again, so that he could get some more laps under his belt. Race two showed the true potential of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R. For Leon to finish just four seconds down on the race winner after a difficult start is a fabulous performance. Peter had to jump on to a completely different spec machine to his BSB bike and learn it quickly this weekend. To do that, make no mistakes, run consistent lap times, whilst giving us excellent technical feedback is extremely impressive.

“The only negative this weekend is that John wasn’t here. It’s easy to speculate, but I’m sure he would’ve been fighting for the podium in both races. We’re hoping for positive news from him in California in the next couple of days, because a fit and fired up John is capable of great things.”

– Kawasaki Report

Starting from pole for the fourth time this year Sykes led both Donington races and finished within 1.609 seconds of the win in the first 23-lap contest of the day. He was in combative and consistent form in race one but in race two he had no choice but to let his pursuers finally get past when he made a small error.

Tom looked set for a fifth place in the second race, after the second close and entertaining fight entered the last lap, but calamities for riders up front saw him promoted to third. Despite finishing behind championship leader Max Biaggi in race two he is now only five slender points behind the Aprilia rider. Tom has now scored five podiums in the nine races so far, including his win last time out at Monza.

Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) made up places in both his starts from 18th on the grid, going 16th and just out of the points in race one, then taking a great eighth in a second race with only 15 finishers.

Kawasaki Team Pedercini rider Leandro Mercado had a double no score today, as did his Donington team-mate, Gary Mason.

Tom Sykes: “Race one was a fantastic race, I really enjoyed it and it certainly felt like a long one as it seemed to go on for many laps. Overall I think we had a very good show, lots of passing and a little bit too much at some corners, especially at the Foggy Esses, which seemed to claim a few victims. Unfortunately we seemed to struggle at one particular part of the track and that definitely affected our race performance. Yet again we got the holeshot and led for a number of laps in race two, but I was missing a bit of feeling with the wind, which was unfortunate. I managed to stay out front but made one mistake and all the other guys came past at a rate of knots. We didn’t quite have the best setting this weekend but a pole position and two podiums are great for myself and the Kawasaki team. I had the best seat in the house for the last couple of laps of race two, but for me five minus two equals a podium so I’m very happy!”

Loris Baz: “Race two was really good, to be eighth is a result even if there were some crashes from other riders. I think it would have been about 13th or 14th without those and that is really positive for a first race. But crashes are part of racing and I took some good opportunities. If you look at my lap times I did nearly all my laps alone in front of a group and if you take off the first lap I was about 0.9 seconds from the pace of the fastest riders, like Tom, Rea or Melandri. Less than one second from the top riders in my first race at this level is pretty good.”

– Honda Report

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) scored his and Honda’s second FIM Superbike World Championship race win of 2012, in race two at Donington, after what was one of the most close fought and exciting contests the famous old circuit has ever hosted. Under sunny skies on race-day, after a period of almost always dry practice and qualifying, Rea scored fourth in race one, itself a minor classic of the genre, which was won by Marco Melandri. The Italian rider gave BMW its first ever win in this class of racing. It was race two, the second 23-lap race of the day, that really got the crowds going, however, at what was officially called the European round of the championship.

Rea had been sixth on lap one of race one, matching his qualifying position, but he clawed his way back into the leading bunch and was less than two seconds from Melandri and potential victory, with Leon Haslam (BMW) and Tom Sykes
(Kawasaki) also in front of him. In race two Rea also had to work hard to get into contention with the leading few and also ran off track at one time as he pushed on to what at one time looked like an unlikely podium, much less a potential victory.

Fourth going into the final lap, but still part of a rolling maul of metal and motivation for the win, Rea passed Max Biaggi (Aprilia) for third.
As Melandri and Haslam ran wide, trying to attack and defend the lead respectively, Rea saw his opportunity and took a tight line into the final Goddards corner. Haslam and he collided and the BMW rider fell, with his bike skittling Melandri, leaving Rea clear track to the flag to win. Biaggi was second and Sykes third.

Rea’s latest win put him third in the championship, three places higher than he started the day in. Biaggi has 128.5 points, Sykes 123.5, Rea 108 and Carlos Checa (Ducati) 105.5. Reigning champion Checa was only sixth in race one then a faller at the first corner of race two, after a collision with another rider.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) had a much-less dramatic afternoon in England, but much work took place in practice and qualifying for a major part of weekend. He and his team had to find a new set-up to match the undulations, bumps and sweeps of Donington, after the flat-out blasts and chicanes of Monza. Aoyama was within one place of qualifying for Superpole, and in the races today he was 17th, and then a strong tenth in a race where every rider who finished scored points. This included Haslam, who pushed his machine to the finish line from the final corner and was ranked 15th. In the points Aoyama is 13th overall, with 30.5.

The next round is in America, at Miller Motorsports Park on May 28th – making it a Monday raceday.

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) took his first career win in the FIM Supersport World Championship after converting a second place on the grid into a full points score. Lowes had been through some troubled times in practice after he picked up a nasty stomach infection of some kind, meaning he had been ill from Friday onwards. He then fell in second qualifying on Saturday, suffering severe injury to the small finger of his left hand and losing the chance to go for pole.

Lowes overcame the early push of pole position rider Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) and despite the coming menace of double world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) Lowes held on to win by upping the pace on the final two laps and taking himself to within five points of the championship lead.

Both Cluzel and Lowes gained from their podium finishes, with Lowes on 76 points to Sofuoglu’s 81, while Cluzel is now third overall, on 64. The French rider put his knowledge of Donington to good use and was delighted like his peers not to meet any rainy conditions, which allowed him to find a good race set-up.

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) had good early pace, but dropped out of contention as his rear lost grip and he finished fourth in the race, moving up to fifth in the championship – albeit 39 points behind the leading rider.

Seventh for Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) at Donington was result that pushed him up to seventh place overall. He was satisfied in one way as he had only qualified 11th, and is now only four points from the rider ahead.

A great ride from Valentine Debise (SMS Racing Honda) placed him eighth; with his only score of the year so far giving him eight points on one fell swoop. He had a strong ninth place in qualifying to thank for his good start, riding to sixth after one lap and keeping a good pace throughout.

Roberto Tamburini (Lorini Honda) was 11th, the last Honda rider in the points.

At his home race Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) rode to 16th, Kieran Clarke (Bogdanka Honda PTR) was 17th, and Ilario Dionisi (PRORACE Honda) was 18th. Despite a big crash in practice, Andrea Antonelli (Lorini Honda) rode on raceday and finished 22nd.

Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) and his team-mate Balazs Nemeth both failed to finish, like Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda).

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team): Race result: 4th / 1st Championship position: 3rd “In the last corner of race two there were five guys out there wanting to win a race, most of all Melandri. He came from a long way back on Leon Haslam to create a gap that I went for. Me and Leon touched and I’m really sorry that he crashed. But more importantly we’ve won, taken 25 points and I’ve given my team a great reward for giving me a great bike this weekend.”

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team): Race result: 17th / 10th Championship position: 13th “I was expecting a bit better results at Donington Park because I know this track. We found a bit better feeling with the bike last time out at Monza so we brought this setting here, but it seems a little bit too hard so we started to adjust it. In qualifying we were 17th, very close to the Superpole 16, so we lost an opportunity to ride in Superpole and maybe get more time on the track, which may have helped me.
We changed the bike between race one and race two and the direction was better. As we saw, Johnny had very good races so the bike has potential and the team is working well, so we will see.”

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda): Race result: 1st Championship position: 2nd “Obviously I was out to get my first win and some people may say it was a long time coming. I have made some mistakes, but today I used my head a little bit more and I am really happy for the result. The team is doing well because Jules won last weekend and I won this weekend. It so good having Jules in the team because we got on really well and we push each other on. Hopefully we can come on well for the second part of the season.
The bike has been fantastic all year so I am really enjoying everything at the minute. It’s great to take my first World Supersport victory in front of my home crowd and I’m really grateful for the support. There’s a bit of a break now which is good as I can sort out my injured finger. I’ll be training hard to come to Misano as fit as ever and ready to rock and roll.”

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda): Race result: 3rd Championship position: 3rd “Sam was really fast, I tried to catch him again, but he was too fast. Maybe we can make another good race next time. I have to say thanks to my team because I have a really good bike and I am particularly happy because I am third in the championship and I came here looking for this.”

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda): Race result: 4th Championship position: 5th “We had no grip from around the middle of the race and struggled a little bit to find rear grip all weekend. We have been playing catch up, but we never really found what we needed. I got a good start in the race and tried to stay with them, but I just could not keep with the front three. All race I never gave up, but it just never happened. We missed the podium, unfortunately, and got fourth which is not what we want at the moment. Now we have a break in the championship so we are going to go back and work and try to come back even stronger.”

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda): Race result: 7th Championship position: 7th “I would say it was not the result I was looking for, but I have to give myself a break because I did start from 11th spot on the grid. Someone made a mistake in front of me and the front pack got away so it was a little bit disappointing.
But, at the end of the day, I have to be happy with seventh because I got good points, did not crash and kept it going. I just want to get more consistent and climb higher and higher in the points.”

Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda): Race result: 16th Championship position: 34th “I gave it my all today and that was the best I could do. I am still getting faster with every lap and my times at the end of the race were good. I am feeling more at home on the bike than ever and that’s positive. It was a hard race with not many riders making mistakes so I am OK with 16th and will continue looking forward.”

Kieran Clarke (Bogdanka PTR Honda): Race result: 17th Championship position: 31st “I had a good start and made good progress. I was in a group fighting for 15th position and was quite happy, but later on I was a bit too aggressive and riding too hard which led to a few little mistakes. A few riders passed me but I managed to get my rhythm back and pass a couple of riders back before the end. Overall it’s been a fantastic weekend so I’d like to thank the Bogdanka Honda PTR team.”

Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda): Race result: DNF Championship position: 32nd “After the start I made my way past a few riders and by lap six I was in ninth and in a group fighting for sixth position. Unfortunately I crashed three laps later in turn 12. I’m OK, but really disappointed, as we were looking good for a solid finish and some good points today. We’ve got a few weeks of a break now, so a bit of time to regroup and come back strong in San Marino in June. I’m sorry for the team but I’ll do my best to make it up at Misano next time out.”

Andrea Antonelli: (Lorini Honda) Race Result: 22nd Championship Position: 13th “I had a big crash in practice and that made it very difficult for me in the race. The race, considering, was not so bad. Now I just have to let myself repair a little and concentrate on my physical condition, before Misano and get back into the top ten there.”

– Liberty Racing Team

The Donington race weekend began in the best way for the competitive Liberty Racing Team, with Smrž always very fast in qualifying and the usual Guintoli in a great riding period.

Then from the Superpole, something has cracked. Sylvain Guintoli, after scored the fifth place in the qualifying, took the eighth place in race 1, after a long duel at first with Biaggi, than with Checa and Giugliano.

Then in the second manche, the French scored 5th overall, after an amazing fight against Laverty, and giving up the position to Camier only in the final part of the race, but he has been once again the first Ducati of the day.

What a pity for those few seconds that prevented Sylvain to be with the first to fight for the podium.

Another unlucky weekend for the very brave Kuba Smrž, protagonist of Friday and Saturday Q1 and Q2, the Czech, in race 1, after a not very good start and a mistake on the bagarre of the first lap, recovering seven positions, at the end scored the 14th place overall. In race 2 he was involved, in the Checa’s crash and he was unable to avoid the Spanish, so he crashed too.

The Czech is a rider who never gives up, and there are still many rounds of this 2012 World Championship in which he will be able to demonstrate to all his supporters his real skill.

Weekend undertone for Maxime Berger, after having hit the target of “16″ in the Superpole, in Race 1 finished thirteenth, and he had to retire in race 2, for a problem to the bike.

Now, before the U.S. round, the Liberty Racing Team, will have two weeks to sharpen their weapons and recharge the batteries: the top positions are very close for all Liberty’s three riders. Never give up, that’s the slogan, which will push the whole team today and always to go on, even during less positive day.

– Althea Ducati

Today proved to be a very unfortunate race day for Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano at the Donington Park circuit. In race 1 the pair finished in sixth (Carlos) and seventh (Davide) position while in the second race both crashed out at the first corner.

Race 1 – Both Carlos and Davide were caught up in traffic at the first corner, finding themselves in eighth and tenth position respectively at the end of the first lap. The Althea men got past first Davies, then Camier and while Carlos gave chase to Rea ahead of him, his team-mate Davide battled it out with Guintoli. From mid-race on, Checa began to close the gap between himself and Rea, passing him on the fifteenth lap but Rea soon got back in front and increased his pace in the final stages, meaning that Carlos had to be satisfied with final sixth position. Giugliano, who maintained a strong pace right to the end, followed Checa across the line to close seventh, ahead of Guintoli.

Race 2 – the race came to a premature end for both Althea men when, caught in traffic at the first corner, both found themselves on the ground as a result of contact between bikes. Carlos was unfortunately unable to continue while Davide returned to the track; after a few laps, and a pit stop, he too retired from the race.

At the end of this fifth round of the championship, current champion Checa now lies in fourth position with 105.5 points behind Rea with 108, Sykes with 123.5 and Biaggi with 128.5. Giugliano moves up to ninth with 50 points. Ducati continues to lead the manufacturer’s championship with 161.5 points, to Aprilia’s 139.

Carlos Checa: “After the result of race 1, which wasn’t bad, I thought I’d be able to do more in the second. I tried to start strong and found a good position but when I got to the apex I saw Laverty in front of me and he braked suddenly, maybe there was a rider in front of him I don’t know. I did everything I could to brake, to stop the bike, but there were riders all around me and I couldn’t avoid a fall. My leg is a bit sore and a little swollen but I’m ok. I need a couple of days to get over this result and then I’ll start preparing for Miller.”

Davide Giugliano: “It’s a shame because the day had started out fairly positively. We had seen in race 1 that we had a strong pace and we were certain that we could do better in the second. I started race 2 convinced that I could be up there with the top four but unfortunately what happened at the first corner penalized me too. We have however demonstrated that we have good pace and now we go on to America, a track that I don’t know, to see what we can do there.”

– Smiths Racing

The Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph team made their World Supersport Championship debut at Donington Park today and it proved to be a more than successful foray with Australians Glen Richards and Billy McConnell as well as British rider Luke Mossey all scoring points, Richards finishing the highest in a superb fifth place.

With all three riders qualifying inside the top 12, Richards being the best in fifth place, hopes were high going into Sunday’s 22 lap race and so it turned out. Former British Supersport champion Richards was never outside the top five and ran as high as third in the early stages. Lapping at a similar pace to the race leaders, Glen found himself involved in a battle with fellow countryman Broc Parkes but in the end he had to give second best and settle for an excellent fifth and 11 World Championship points.

Slightly further back was McConnell and he too made a good start to lie in eighth place at the end of the first lap. Although he got slightly shuffled back to 10th in the first third of the race, he fought his way back up to ninth, just five seconds off a top six finish, to give the team their second top ten result. Third member of the team Mossey was also well in contention and was embroiled in a ferocious five-rider scrap for 11th place. Competing in his first ever World Championship race, the Royston rider put in a great ride to claim 15th and the final championship point.

Metzeler National Superstock 600cc rider Johnny Blackshaw was also in action over the weekend with two races being held for his particular championship although his cause was hindered by a heavy practice crash. The Stretton rider then struggled with brake problems in the first 12-lap race and could only manage 18th place in Saturday’s race but he bounced back strongly on Sunday to claim a fine fifth place.

Glen Richards: “I would have loved to have finished on the podium today but the front guys were just that little bit quicker and I couldn’t have tried any harder, there was nothing left in the tank at the end! Fifth in a World Championship race is still very pleasing though especially as we had to run a slightly different set up to what we do in the British rounds. It took me a while to get used to it whilst it also meant I was losing a bit of time at Goddards. I was losing a bit of drive out of the corner and so was a bit slower down the straight but we’ve learnt an awful lot this weekend. You can’t not learn when you’re racing with World Championship riders and the team have done a great job. To have all three bikes in the points is a fantastic effort so we can all look forward to the next round of the British Championship.”

Billy McConnell: “I enjoyed the race and although it would have been nice to be closer to Glen I’ve got to be happy with ninth given the fact I was in hospital on Wednesday and Thursday having tests for an old injury! I’ve been suffering with some internal bleeding but we don’t know what from so whether or not it’s a bit of a delayed reaction to an old crash we’re not sure but I made it through in one piece so it’s a good result. With no traction control or air bleed, the bike’s been different to ride but all the track time has been invaluable so I can’t wait for the next British round now and am very much looking forward to getting back to winning ways.”

Luke Mossey: “I’m really happy with how the weekend finished and to get a point in my first World Championship race is superb. I struggled a bit in practice on Friday and was around two seconds off the pace but I tried Glen’s settings on Saturday and they worked really well so that allowed me to be a lot higher up. It was a really good, fun race and all the track time we’ve had this weekend should stand me in good stead for the next British Championship round. Glen and Billy have already taken wins so I need to get one next and get the monkey off my back!”

Johnny Blackshaw: “The crash in practice could have ruined my weekend and it certainly dented my confidence so to end with a fifth place is very rewarding. I was pretty battered and bruised after the crash but Saturday’s race was going reasonably well until I ran into brake trouble. The brake was coming back to the bar and that’s what caused me to run on at the Esses. I came back strong for Sunday’s race though and although fifth isn’t where I want to finish, it’s a good haul of points and gives me plenty to build on at the next round.”

Alan Smith (Team owner): “It’s been a great weekend for us and we’ve proved that we can be competitive at this level despite having to make some alterations to the normal set up of our bikes. I’m especially pleased for the team who have worked really hard to put us in this position and so this is especially rewarding. I’m not sure if we’re doing any more of the World Championship events as our focus is on the British Championship but, hopefully, Triumph have noted what we have done for them here at Donington Park.”

Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship race 1 (12 laps)
1 Alex Olsen (Triumph)
2 Ben Burke (Yamaha)
3 Jake Dixon (Yamaha)
4 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)
5 James Rose (Yamaha)
6 Bjorn Estment (Yamaha)

Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship race 2 (12 laps)
1 Alex Olsen (Triumph)
2 Ben Burke (Yamaha)
3 James Rose (Yamaha)
4 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)
5 Johnny Blackshaw (Smiths (Triumph)
6 Tom Fisher (Kawasaki)

Championship standings (after five rounds)
1 Dixon 70pts
= Olsen 70
3 Rose 67
4 Burke 61
5 Whitaker 55
6 Jackson 43

– AP Kawasaki

The AP Kawasaki team were back in action at the weekend at Donington Park for rounds four and five of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship races and it proved to be a successful weekend with both Patrick Medcalf and Freddie Russo scoring strong top ten finishes.

For Australian rider Medcalf it was his best meeting of the year so far and after qualifying in 14th, he made a great start in race one to immediately move into the top ten. Overtaking riders one by one, he was up to a superb seventh place by lap seven and here he remained for nine well earned championship points. It was a similar story in the second race and he was able to claim his second successive top ten finish in 10th to pick up a total of 15 points for the weekend.

Brentwood’s Russo also had a strong weekend and was able to run inside the top 12 in both qualifying and the races. A great start in race one saw him move up to ninth although he slipped back to 12th, the legacy of the same arm pump problem that had affected him at Oulton Park the previous weekend. However, he fought his way back up to 10th at the chequered flag and in the second encounter, he was right behind Medcalf for much of the race and crossed the line just behind his team-mate in 11th. His results also move him up to 11th overall in the title table.

Meanwhile, third member of the team Josh Wainwright was unable to compete in the Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship races due to the injuries sustained at the previous round at Oulton Park. The Thamesmead rider hopes to be back in time for the meeting at Snetterton at the end of the month.

Freddie Russo: “It’s been a good weekend for me and right from the beginning of the season my aim was to finish consistently in the top ten so to achieve that in race one and be very close in race two is very pleasing. I had a bit of arm pump again this weekend but managed to get a bit of treatment from a good physio called Richard Sangwin and it certainly helped. Donington requires a lot of heavy braking in the final third of the circuit so I was a bit slow there and then found I was being held up through the sections where I was quick but, overall, I’m happy with how the two races went. We’re going in the right direction and I was also pleased to see Pat go so well, he was the only rider I was happy to overtake me!”

Patrick Medcalf: “I’m really happy with how this weekend has gone and with some good weather, I’ve been competitive throughout the three days. Donington’s a bit easier to learn than some of the other UK tracks which have a lot of blind corners but I’ve also got the bike working how I want it to so we’ve been able to make some good progress. There was a fair bit of carnage in front of me in the first race and it took me a few laps to get into a good rhythm but once I did I was really pleased with both my riding and the lap times. The second race was a lot tougher and I got carved up pretty badly at the first corner and by the time I’d worked my way back inside the top ten, the front group had gapped me a bit. Overall though, I’ve had two really good races so a big thanks to the team for all their efforts.”

Alan Greig: “It’s been a great weekend for us and I’m really pleased with the efforts of both riders throughout the weekend. They qualified well and raced well so to come away with three top ten finishes out of four is pretty good going. The pleasing aspect is that we’ve improved at each and every round and are moving forward all the time. It’s easy to forget that it’s Freddie’s first year on a 1000cc machine and Patrick’s first year in the UK but they’re bringing the best out of each other and are coming on in leaps and bounds. Their confidence is improving meeting by meeting and the team’s morale is at a real high. We’re really looking forward to Snetterton now and we’ll also have Josh back so let’s hope for more of the same there.”

Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship race 1 (12 laps)
1 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
2 Jimmy Storrar (BMW)
3 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)
4 Victor Cox (Kawasaki)
5 Lee Costello (Kawasaki)
6 David Johnson (BMW)
7 Patrick Medcalf (Kawasaki)

Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship race 2 (12 laps)
1 Steve Brogan (BMW)
2 Jimmy Storrar (BMW)
3 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)
4 Lee Costello (Kawasaki)
5 David Johnson (BMW)
6 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)

Championship standings (after five rounds)
1 Storrar 71
2 O’Halloran 67
3 Buchan 65
4 Farmer 59
5 Brogan 56

Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship standings (after five rounds)
1 Dixon 70pts
= Olsen 70
3 Rose 67
4 Burke 61
5 Whitaker 55
6 Jackson 43

Donington_Melandri_Haslam_crash