The American rider’s family and friends are in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, as the WorldSBK paddock sends support and best wishes, following this tragic turn of events. Nevertheless, WorldSBK moves on to Donington this weekend for round six of season 2017.
Set in the rural hills of Leicestershire, Donington Park is the host for the sixth round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and there’s one man with a target on his back, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). The historic circuit hosted the very first World Superbike race in 1988 and is a circuit which holds a special place in the hearts of many.
Split into two halves, from fast and flowing to stop-and-go, the style of the circuit lends itself to many manufacturers meaning fans are treated to strong racing throughout the field. But with Sykes heading to Donington unbeaten since 2013, it will be hard to stop the Yorkshireman in front of his home fans.
“Going back to Donington Park is obviously very exciting. It is a track where I have had some success and done well in the recent past. This year I feel we are fairly well set up after having had a good weekend at Assen and then again in Imola. Now we start to go to some circuits where I have performed better in the past – Donington being one of them. My health has been improving and the preparations are better than previous rounds as a result. Touchwood, the sickness and so on has not been there for the past few days, so I am quietly confident we will not have an interrupted race weekend.”
Bouncing back from an illness which has plagued Sykes since the third round of the season, the British rider has only been off the podium three times so far in 2017 and his pace is one which is hard to challenge. Sykes and Donington Park seem to go hand in hand, and it’s a winning combination; taking pole position four times in the last five years and winning every race since 2013. However the 31 year old is yet to take a race win in 2017, and he will face stiff competition from his Kawasaki team-mate.
“I’m really excited about coming back to Donington Park after a great start to the season. The track itself is a lot of fun but it is also challenging to find a good balance between stability in the heavy braking areas, and agility in the fast and flowing parts. After Imola we have a better understanding of our bike and I’m looking forward to putting some new set-up ideas in place. I have received great support at the past at Donington and I know a lot of people are travelling from Northern Ireland, so it will definitely have the ‘home race’ feel. It’s been a long time since I won at Donington so putting that right is the main target of the weekend.”
Looking to be the man to stop Sykes’ UK run is reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who will also be hoping to impress in front of his home fans. Beating Sykes around Donington would be a huge boost for Rea and for his championship charge overall. Holding the race lap record around the 4.023km circuit and last taking the victory in 2012, Rea is yet to win around Donington Park on a Kawasaki. In a season which has seen him win seven out of 10 races it will be difficult to rule out Rea to bring the fight, especially with the backing of his home crowd.
Coming off the back of a stunning weekend around the historic Imola circuit and what was an important round for Ducati, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) looks ahead to Donington; an important race as his home fans descend in support for the Welsh rider. Not a circuit which lends itself to Davies and his riding style, he has had a tough time at Donington in the past – his best result in WorldSBK being a double podium finish in 2015 with two third positions, whilst he took a second in WorldSSP.
“After some good results at Imola, it’ll be nice to head to Donington with some momentum. In the past few years, we’ve been getting progressively closer to the mark and more competitive there, where Sykes has been the benchmark. Last year, despite having missed one hour of practice on Friday, we got a podium, so I’m up for the challenge. That said, I feel devastated over the loss of somebody who wasn’t only a respected and established motorcycle racer and world champion. Nicky’s character spoke for itself. He was a great guy, friendly and determined, who deserves so much respect. We lost a real legend, on and off the track.”
Hailing just a stones throw away from Donington Park, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) has a vast amount of experience around the circuit. The 26 year old will certainly be looking to secure his first podium of 2017, and with the support of his home crowd there may be a lot to cheer about from the blue box.
“I can’t wait for the Donington Park weekend! I live ten miles from the track so it’s a real home race for me. Even if it wasn’t, it’s a great circuit that I really enjoy. The section from Redgate to Coppice, for me, it is one of the best sections of track in the whole world. I’m optimistic of challenging for a podium. I think the circuit will suit the R1, unfortunately, I missed the event last year due to injury so I’m hoping to make up for it this year. It’s always amazing to race in front of the British fans and public and it’s something I really miss from my BSB days. Thanks to everyone for the support, I can’t wait to get started, and Ill see you there!”
Taking a podium finish for Suzuki in 2014, Lowes was forced to sit out of the British Round last season with injury which means he will come out even more determined than ever. Himself and his team feel they are just one step away from getting the YZF-R1 on the podium, and Donington would be the perfect setting.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) comes off the back of a tough weekend at Imola, but it was also a round in which he started to make some strong steps, fighting up towards the front. Starting his career out in the British championship’s means Camier is another rider with a lot of experience in Leicestershire, with his last podium appearance being in 2011 with Aprilia.
Following a big crash on Saturday at Imola which Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was able to walk away from unscathed; the Irishman seems to have made progress with the Italian machine. Following a tough start to the season, himself and his British based team are keen to try out their updates at their homecoming around Donington Park. Taking his last podium at the Leicestershire circuit in 2013, Laverty has struggled around the circuit but can he put the past behind him?
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) heads to Donington Park with a best result of seventh around the track and still recovering from an illness which sidelined him on Saturday around Imola. The Spanish rider will be looking to make the step into the top five as he tackles his S 1000 RR around the fast and flowing circuit.
Lone Honda rider Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) will face a tough weekend both with his bike set-up and with his team-mate Hayden in mind. Continuing to understand the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2, and heading to a circuit where the German rider has a tough record around, Donington Park will be a round Bradl will need the support of the loyal British fans.
Marco Melandri last week concluded a one-day test at Mugello with positive feedback, has secured two wins and two further podiums at Donington during his career in WorldSBK.
“The day spent on track at Mugello last week was really intense and important, because in the official post-race test at Aragon we couldn’t ride after a crash, and most of all because of the issues encountered at Imola. I think we made some steps forward under several aspects. I really like the Donington track, and I hope the weather will be good. We head there with confidence, but most of all sadness after receiving the news of Nicky’s passing. It’s really hard to make sense of what unfolded in these circumstances. He will be missed dearly. My thoughts are with him and his family.”
Michael Van der Mark is looking forward to riding his R1 at Donington for the first time, a track that he also feels will suit the Yamaha. The Dutch rider has enjoyed a solid start to the season, but after a tricky weekend at Imola, where he came away with a seventh and a ninth-placed-finish, is looking to regain focus and return to the top six. The 24-year-old, who occupies seventh in the Championship standings after five races with 78 points, loves the passionate British supporters and is relishing the chance to perform at the team’s home race.
Michael van der Mark
“Imola was a difficult weekend for the team and me, but we just have to move on and I am very much looking forward to Donington. Its a completely different track to Imola and I think the R1 will work well there, as the track suits our bike. Its a nice race for me, I love the British fans plus its the teams and my teammates home round! This always makes it more exciting, and we know how supportive the fans will be. We have been making good progress all season, but Imola was difficult, so we need to regain focus and we will be ready to fight at Donington.”
An updated time schedule greets WorldSBK in the UK and the top class will compete at the end of the day, unlike in the rest of Europe.
Donington WSBK Stats
2011 – The last race without a Kawasaki rider on the podium here was back in 2011.
1988 – Donington set the stage for the inaugural Championship round back in 1988: Davide Tardozzi (Bimota) and Marco Lucchinelli (Ducati) secured one win each on the 3rd of April.
52 – Ducati have built up 52 podium finishes in the 48 races held so far at Donington. Kawasaki are just behind with 30.
47 – In 48 races run at Donington, 47 different riders have stepped onto the podium.
18 – British riders have won 18 races here and they are currently unbeaten in the last nine: Race 2 in 2012 was won by Rea, then a string of eight for Tom Sykes. The last non-British winner here was Marco Melandri (Italy) in Race 1, 2012.
15 – Ducati have qualified on pole 15 times at Donington: all their rivals are on a combined 9 times.
13 – Troy Corser climbed onto the podium 13 times here, which is the record for the track: next up are Carl Fogarty and Tom Sykes with 11.
11-1 – In the last two race weekends held here in 2015 and 2016, British riders claimed 11 podiums, leaving only one position for other countries: the third spot in last year’s Race 1, claimed by Davide Giugliano (Italy).
11 – Tom Sykes has more than double the podium finishes than his closest current competitor Rea, who stands at 5.
10 – Tom Sykes has secured a podium in his last 10 races here. In WorldSBK history only Carl Fogarty managed a longer run of podiums on a given track: 15 at Assen from 1992 Race 2 to 1999 Race 2.
9 – If Tom Sykes wins Race 1, he will accomplish an unprecedented feat in WorldSBK history: winning on a given track for 9 straight times.
9 – The last win from ninth (or lower) on the grid here came in 2011, Race 1, by Marco Melandri. This will be put to the test this year in Race 2, with the re-shuffled grid format. So far in 2017, Race 2 winners have always secured the win from the 9th grid spot or lower.
5 – Tom Sykes will try to become the first rider to claim a fifth pole at Donington: he shares the record of four with Carl Fogarty. He is the only rider on the current grid to have started from pole here.
3 – There are only two riders in the current field who won a WorldSBK race at Donington: Jonathan Rea (1), Marco Melandri (2) and Tom Sykes (8). They are also the last three who joined the list of (24) Donington winners, respectively in 2012 (Melandri and Rea) and 2013 (Sykes).
2 – Donington has recently favoured breakaway wins: only two races in the last 16 were won with a margin smaller than one second at the flag (both 2012 ones).
1 – Donington was the stage of the first win of 4-times World Champion Carl Fogarty, back in 1992, Race 2. Fogarty is the all-time leader for wins – 59 – followed by Troy Bayliss at 52 and Jonathan Rea at 45.
WorldSBK 2017 – Round Five – WSBK Championship Points Standings
Jonathan Rea – 235
Chaz Davies – 161
Tom Sykes – 160
Marco Melandri – 124
Alex Lowes – 94
Xavi Forés – 84
Michael Van Der Mark – 78
Jordi Torres – 65
Leon Camier – 64
Eugene Laverty – 55
Román Ramos – 44
Stefan Bradl – 43
Nicky Hayden – 40
Leandro Mercado – 34
Lorenzo Savadori – 28
Randy Krummenacher – 25
Alex De Angelis – 23
Markus Reiterberger – 19
WSSP: Sofuoglu is a man on a mission in WorldSSP
FIM Supersport World Championship is in full swing as the 32 riders head over to the iconic Donington Park Circuit in Great Britain, for the sixth round of the season. Fast and flowing, the 4.023km circuit lends itself to the stunning nature of WorldSSP racing and if history is anything to go by fans are set for a show.
Reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) continues to stamp his dominance throughout the WorldSSP championship, as the Turkish rider secured his second consecutive victory at the Motul Italian Round. Taking his 40th victory in the WorldSSP in classic dominant style, Sofuoglu is on a strong run in 2017, and heads to a track of which he has an impressive history around. Winning the last two races around Donington Park and holding the lap record around the track, he will be a hard rider to stop on his ZX-6R.
Currently leading the championship standings, Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) heads to Donington Park fresh off the back of a podium at the Imola Circuit, and will hope to improve on his 2015 performance in the UK, where he has struggled at in the past. Consistency is key in WorldSSP, and the Frenchman has finished on the podium in all but one of 2017’s races, hoping to secure his second win of the season at Donington Park.
Heading for a big homecoming, Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will have his eyes on repeating his wildcard performance of 2015, which saw the local rider take a stunning podium finish around his home circuit. Now back with a full time ride for the championship winning team, Ryde is yet to finish on the podium in 2017 but currently sits in seventh in the standings with some consistent results. Coming off the back of a tough weekend at Imola, the 19 year old will look to impress in front of his home fans and make that all important step onto the podium.
It’s not just Kyle Ryde the British fans will have to cheer for, the trio of Kyle Smith (Gemar Team Lorini), Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) will be out in full force to impress the hoards of fans as they descend on the Leicestershire banking.
Smith is searching for redemption after mistakes around the Chang International Circuit saw the British rider miss out on the victory, and he has been fighting for the podium ever since. Taking a top six finish at Donington Park last time out, Smith will be hoping his Honda has the power to take him to the podium at Donington Park.
Rea is continuing to struggle on board his Kawasaki machine, and has a mixed history in the East Midlands but the support of his home crowd certainly won’t slow him down. Taking a third position back in 2011, Donington holds some strong memories for Rea and he will be looking to take a points scoring finish next weekend. Local rider Stapleford will certainly have the home support to back him in what has been a tough season so far. Living close to the British circuit, he will be looking to get some solid points on the board.
Locked in the championship fight are front runners Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Sheridan Morias (Kallio Racing) and PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse). Cluzel was unable to secure a podium finish last timeout but is continuing to show a consistent pace on board his Honda machine as he hopes to move up the championship standings.
Morais was hindered by the tyres following the restarts at Imola but he is confident he can make that extra step in order to fight for the victory around Donington Park which is a circuit Yamaha’s tend to run well around, but the British circuit is one he has struggled around in the past.
Jacobsen was unable to turn his pole position into a win last time out as himself and his team are working on finding the perfect pace. With a strong record around Donington Park – taking second position last season – Jacobsen will have the familiar support of the British fans around him.
Aussies Lachlan Epis and Giuseppe Scarcella will also be aiming for points, while Anthony West’s season was in doubt due to needing sponsors to complete the final six races, including Donington.
With an updated timetable for the Pata UK Round, World Supersport will be out on track for Superpole one at 12:00LT on Saturday 27th May, and the race gets underway at the same time on Sunday 28th May.
WorldSBK 2017 – Round Five – World Supersport Championship Points Standings
Lucas Mahias – 85
Sheridan Morais – 58
PJ Jacobsen – 55
Kenan Sofuoglu – 50
Roberto Rolfo – 41
Jules Cluzel – 39
Kyle Ryde – 36
Federico Caricasulo – 35
Niki Tuuli – 27
Christian Gamarino – 25
Michael Canducci – 24
Anthony West – 23
Hikari Okubo – 22
Decha Kraisart – 20
Aiden Wagner – 17
Luke Stapleford – 17
Kyle Smith – 16
Kazuki Watanabe – 16
Thitipong Warokorn – 13
Hannes Soomer – 10
Nacho Calero – 10
Rob Hartog – 10
Lachlan Epis – 10
Deroue looks for redemption as WorldSSP300 head to Donington Park
Round three of the new FIM Supersport 300 World Championship threw up many surprises as the championship took on the iconic circuit of Imola. With racing as close as ever, the unexpected was provided for fans and the series lived up to its name with the sensationally close action. Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) continues to lead the championship standings, but a tough weekend at Imola proves anything can happen in WorldSSP300. Heading to Donington Park for Round Four, a track again which will be familiar to some but brand new to others in the field, all is to play for in the series.
Dutchman Deroue will have a lot of experience at Donington Park as he hails from his time in the domestic British championships, meaning he will certainly be out to redeem his result from the technically demanding Imola circuit. Kawasaki’s are proven bikes around the Leicestershire circuit meaning Deroue will be stood in good stead with his machine, and with a 14 point championship lead he will be looking to increase the gap at a circuit he will be pushing at from the opening free practise session.
Italian Alfonso Coppola (SK Racing) had a strong race in front of his home fans around Imola, and is slowly chipping away at Deroue’s championship lead. With some strong performances around the British circuit in the past in the European Junior Cup, the young Italian put on a mature performance at his home round and will be looking to take this momentum forward to the tough circuit.
Mika Perez (WILSport Racedays) is yet to reproduce the stunning performance from his home round at MotorLand Aragon which saw him make a step onto the podium as one of only three Honda’s on the grid. Qualifying on pole position last time out at Assen, the Spanish rider was unable to convert this into a podium in the highly competitive field. Proving he has the pace, and heading to a track he has won at in the past it will be an exciting battle to unfold as he fights to get his Honda on the podium.
On top of the championship fight, the British riders in the WorldSSP300 class will be hoping to impress their home fans for the first time and put on an unforgettable show. Alex Murley (Team Toth), Chris Taylor (MTM HS Kawasaki) and Hopkins Racing are building on their experience built up so far throughout the start of the new championship. With a loyal fan base of Brits behind them, it is bound to be a memorable round.
WorldSSP300 action gets underway on Friday 26th May at 12:15, ahead of Superpole on Saturday 27th May 13:00, and the race is now at an earlier time of 11:05LT.
Rinaldi on the run
Can the STK1000 Ducati rider be stopped going into Donington?
Getting into the swing of the 2017 season, the European Superstock 1000 Championship heads to their fourth round at Donington Park and stunning racing action is guaranteed around the Leicestershire circuit. Dominance continues to be the key in the STK1000 series; with riders clearly beginning to feel comfortable on board their bikes and finding the correct set up is key to taking the lead and breaking from the ruthless pack.
Leading the championship is Italian Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it – Junior Team), who returned to the top of the podium in front of his home crowd last time out at Imola. With a 16 point lead in the standings after just three races, Rinaldi is the man to beat heading into Donington. However having only recorded a top five finish at the circuit last season – 10 seconds off the winner – can the Italian bring his pace forward from the opening rounds to tackle the tough Donington Park.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) sits in second position in the championship standings with 54 points – his racing number. Taking his first win around Assen for round two, the Turkish rider secured another podium last time out and will be hoping to impress in front of the British fans.
Lap record holder Roberto Tamburini (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team) is still searching for his first race win of the season, after taking two podium position finishes so far this season including an Italian dream in front of his home fans last time out. Taking pole position at Donington Park in 2015 with BMW, the Italian missed out on the victory but has proved he enjoys battling around the 4.023km circuit.
Team-mate Florian Marino (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team) has finished on the podium two times out of three so far in 2017, as he continues to adapt to the pace of his YZF R1. But with a steady pace around the British circuit so far in his career, fans will be promised close and tense racing for the podium fight.
Aussies Mike Jones and Glenn Scott will also be aiming to build on their championship standings, with Scott taking his first point in Imola.
With 34 riders lining up on the grid around the British circuit, it is set to be a stunning weekend of racing action for the STK1000 riders. With the key to the key to the weekend finding out who can stop Rinaldi and bask in British glory, they descend on a circuit which holds so much history for the championship.
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