In a stunning twist to the opening WorldSBK race at Donington, the British domination of this track was ended as Michael van der Mark put on a sensational display from sixth on the grid, relegating the KRT duo to the minor podium places, while taking his first ever FIM Superbike World Championship race win.
Van der Mark became the first Dutch rider to win in the top class, and the first win for a Yamaha rider since Algarve 2011, Race 2. The Dutchman left both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) shocked and fighting for the remaining podium places, with the Northern Irishman in second and ‘Superpoleman’ in third.
The psychological battle between the KRTs, leading the first row, started right from the start. Rea made it ahead at the lights, with the pair squabbling through sector 1. Sykes struck back three laps later at the Old Hairpin, but went wide at the Melbourne loop. Two laps later, an aggressive Sykes made it back in front, same move, same spot.
The Kawasakis were poised – and had been widely predicted – to dominate Donington weekend, but van der Mark threw a spanner in the works immediately, the only rider able to keep up with Rea and Sykes after passing his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). But stalking the KRTs was not enough for the flying Dutchman – Rea went wide at Melbourne in lap 13, the same he’d done a few laps earlier, and van der Mark shot ahead into second.
A couple of laps later, he attacked again. Van der Mark stuck the nose in at Melbourne, yet again, closed the line over Sykes, and blasted away in the lead. But the battle was far from over here: Rea picked his teammate’s pocket around Schwartz with 6 laps to go, and shot after van der Mark, smelling blood. Yet today it was not to be for the defending champion, the Yamaha rider making no mistakes and meeting the flag.
Behind the sensational podium battle, Lowes finished in fourth, behind his teammate but scoring a fantastic finish at his home race. He will also have the consolation prize of leading the line at Race 2. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) finally translated his great qualifying and free practice performances into a great race finish, making it in at Donington in fifth, ahead of his teammate, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), in sixth.
With the Kawasaki, Yamaha and Aprilia bikes all phenomenal ahead, it was a sorry day for Ducati, with just Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) making it into the top ten, in eighth position. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) crashed with five laps to go, and goes into Race 2 with no points.
Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) made it in in seventh, with Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finishing ninth following a thrilling battle with his teammate at Donington, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who went to the floor on the final lap. Closing the top ten was Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) on his full WorldSBK return after injury.
Michael van der Mark
“Its amazing feeling, we’ve been working for this for a long time, last year I came close and finally after four years we’ve done it. I can’t thank the team enough. The bike was working really good this morning and I was pushing so hard, so a big thank you to the team. Its been three ears on this project and we’ve finally got the victory.”
Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finished second and third respectively after the first 23-lap WorldSBK race of their home round at Donington Park in the UK. Sykes had started from a record breaking 44th career pole position, with Rea just behind in the second place grid spot.
“The bike felt good to be honest but just in the middle to end the grip level dropped and I was having to override to try and make up, especially in the Craner Curves sector, where I was losing a lot to Mikey. In the more stop and sections I felt quite OK and I could be constant. He just had a better pace. Michael was riding well and his bike was working good but the first race gave us good information for tomorrow. In initial acceleration I felt quiet good but anywhere I was using a lot of lean angle, trying to carry momentum, I was really struggling. We just need to re-evaluate our package for tomorrow. I felt like I did the best job I could as at the end of the race the bike was becoming very physical to ride, moving a lot and I was riding a bit tense. It was not for us today.”
“It was pretty good to get a new Superpole record. There is personal satisfaction because for me Superpole is all about pure speed, so you are the fastest guy in that moment. It is a nice record to have, and it is something to be personally proud of. In the race I just wanted to get into the lead and I had a lot better pace at the beginning. But for some reason in the middle of the race I started suffering with spinning the rear tyre. I think I managed that and I think we did the best we could. Michael had incredible grip and when he came through, away he went. So for tomorrow we have a little bit of work to do but a podium is nothing too shabby. Tomorrow I feel we can improve the bike and give it a better shot.”
#UKWorldSBK at Donington Park Race 1
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +1.136
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +2.193
Championship Standings after Race 1, Round 6
Jonthan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (229 points)
Chaz Davies (GBR) Ducati (170 points)
Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki (153 points)
Jules Cluzel (NRT) took his first pole position of the year and twentieth of his FIM Supersport World Championship career, leading a French one-two at the Prosecco DOC UK Round. A very strong performance from Cluzel, fighting at the front for the entire Superpole session, and one that puts him in a perfect position to score his third win of the year.
Behind Cluzel, Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) confirmed yet another first row start with the second fastest time of the Saturday session. Mahias, trailing the championship lead by one point, has started in first or second in every race this year so far.
Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) closes the front row with the third fastest time, after leading the early stages. The German went through the grass at the Fogarty Esses in the closing minutes and was unable to improve his previous time. He starts ahead of WorldSSP leader Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), who will have to fight back tomorrow if he’s to keep his championship lead.
Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) flew straight from the Superpole 1 to fifth on the grid tomorrow, despite a last-lap fall. Closing row two is Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in sixth, looking for his third consecutive podium finish.
Starting seventh tomorrow, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) faces a tough challenge to remain near the top of the standings, with Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) pushing his new Yamaha onto the grid in eighth. Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) and Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), substituting Kenan Sofuoglu following his retirement from WorldSSP, close the top-10 in ninth and tenth, respectively.
Jules Cluzel – Pole
“I am really happy because its been a long time since I’ve secured a pole position and its good to have one pole position, and for sure its better to start on the front row. Tomorrow is the most important day, we must enjoy and I am happy about today.”
Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) started fast in the wet sessions on the first day but finally ended up 15th on the qualifying grid, for a fifth row start on Sunday.
#UKWorldSBK WorldSSP at Donington Park – Tissot-Superpole
Jules Cluzel (NRT)
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +0.195
Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) +0.362
Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) continued her fantastic 2018 form with her second successive Superpole of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season, this time coming through from the Superpole 1.
After opening her pole count at Imola, the 21-year-old rider from Murcia left it later at the Prosecco DOC UK Round, waiting until the checkered flag had come down to just pip ahead of Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team), who dominated the timesheets most of the session but will have to start tomorrow from second.
The good news didn’t end there for Carrasco, with her three closest challengers for the championship starting tomorrow several rows behind. Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) couldn’t come higher than tenth after topping Free Practice on Friday, while Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) and Glenn van Straalen (KTM Fortron Racing Team) couldn’t make it past the Superpole 1. A fantastic opportunity to open a gap and extend her WorldSSP300 lead.
Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was close to taking his third Superpole of the season, but a slow final sector left him in third for tomorrow’s race. Behind the Spaniard, Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) qualified in fourth, with Enzo De La Vega (GP Project Team) in fifth and Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) closing row two in sixth.
Row three will see Walid Khan (Nutec -Benjan – Kawasaki), Carrasco’s teammate Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team), and Daniel Valle (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
“Today we didn’t expect this because this feeling was a bit difficult and the weather condition were strange. We did a good job like always and we found the set up, today I felt a lot better and to ride in SP1 was good and tomorrow I will try to pus from the first lap.”
#UKWorldSBK WorldSSP300 at Donington Park: Tissot-Superpole 2
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