WorldSBK heads to the rolling hills of Leicestershire, where Round 6 will see defending champion Jonathan Rea competing on home turf against Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes, his nearest competitors and fellow Brits.
The circuit is located in the East Midlands 180km north of London, near Sherwood Forest and was built in 1931 specifically for motorcycle racing, while offering an exceptional experience for spectators.
The track is 4.023 metres long with seven right-hand turns and five left-handers. It runs clockwise and the pole position rider starts on the left. The maximum gradient is 8 per cent and the turn radii go from a minimum of 24 metres to a maximum of 333 metres.
Interesting Donington Facts
British riders have won 18 races here and are currently unbeaten in the last eleven: Race 2 in 2012 was won by Rea, then a string of nine for Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and again Rea in Race 2 last year. The last non-British winner here was Marco Melandri (Italy) in Race 1, 2012.
In the last three race weekends held here, from 2015-2017, British riders have claimed 17 podiums, leaving only one position for other countries. This was the third spot in 2016’s Race 1, claimed by Davide Giugliano (Italy).
This is the best track for Tom Sykes, the only one in which he has won nine times. At present, only two riders were able to record 10 or more wins at a given track, these are Carl Fogarty and Jonathan Rea at Assen (12 each).
Tom Sykes has secured a podium in his last 12 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.
The record for podium finishes here, thirteen, is shared by Troy Corser and Tom Sykes.
Donington has recently favoured breakaway wins: only two races in the last 18 were won with a margin smaller than one second at the flag (both 2012 ones).
Donington was the stage of the maiden win for four time World Champion Carl Fogarty back in 1992, Race 2. Fogarty was the all-time leader for wins from Hockenheim 1999 to the last round at Imola two weeks ago, when he was equalled by Rea in Race 2. In Donington Rea has thus the chance to become the first rider in WorldSBK history with at least 60 wins under his belt.
Donington set the stage for the inaugural Championship round, thirty years ago (1988): Davide Tardozzi (Bimota) and Marco Lucchinelli (Ducati) secured one win each on the 3rd of April.
Fresh off the back of a sensational double secured in Italy, Jonathan Rea has equalled Carl Fogarty’s record of 59 victories, and will look to go one further at Donington Park. But out of 16 races run around the British track in WorldSBK, Rea has only taken two victories after he had to contend with a strong run of form from his team-mate. Taking the race two victory last season, and seeming to have found a strong set-up from the get go on his ZX-10RR, Rea and his squad will be looking to take the most victories ever in front of the British fans.
“I’m looking forward to racing at Donington this weekend as it’s the closest thing I have to a home round feeling. It’s nice to arrive there on the back of a strong weekend in Imola and we will work hard together to make sure we can fight for victory again. Of course, Donington is a different challenge, with its undulating layout and a mix of fast flowing sectors and stop and go sectors. This always makes it difficult to set up the perfect bike, but we will try to find a compromise. This weekend marks the first opportunity I have to surpass Carl Fogarty’s all time WorldSBK win record. I will have a lot of travelling support so let’s hope that’s enough to get it done.”
The previous king of Donington Park, Tom Sykes was dethroned last season following a string of nine consecutive victories in front of his home fans. Unable to catch Rea in race two, Sykes will be looking to return to the top step here this weekend with the added confidence of his dominant victory in Assen. Holding the pole and circuit lap record at Donington, he’s not a rider to rule out. A consistent podium finisher this season, the Yorkshireman is looking for victories and won’t settle for anything less around the 4.02km track.
“Preparations are going well for Donington. It is a special place for me. We have done all right in the recent past, with nine wins on the bounce before race two last year. I think I rode there for the first time in the 2000 season. I had ridden at some other British circuits before, and when I finally rocked up to Donington it was special. It is wider and more open compared to most other British circuits. When I got to Donington as a 14 year old, I remember thinking ‘Wow!’ It lived up to all my expectations, and more. First impressions are important, they say, and Donington’s first impression on me was a big one, and it stuck. When you go round Redgate and head down Craner Curves, under a bright blue sky, it is fantastic. In general we are in good shape for Donington and I am looking forward to going racing there again.”
Ducati’s Chaz Davies has a tough record around Donington Park, as the Welsh rider is yet to win in front of his home crowd with three different manufactures. A difficult track for Davies to master, he has four podiums to his name including race two last year but has never been able to bring the fight to the Kawasaki’s. Continuing to work on the set-up with his Panigale alongside the new regulations, Davies will be hoping to reduce the gap in the championship standings which has gradually began to start growing – now up to 47 points.
Hailing just a stones throw from the historic circuit, Alex Lowes will be hoping to put recent results behind him and put on a strong show as his home fans are set to cheer him this weekend. Getting into some issues with the YZF-R1 over recent rounds, and encountering some avoidable mistakes, he has been unable to show his true potential but will look at rectifying it this weekend. With plenty of experience around Donington, Lowes took a podium finish last season – his first here since 2014.
Continuing to recover from a monster crash around Buriram International Circuit in Thailand, Eugene Laverty will make his second appearance since the crash following a valiant weekend in Italy. Returning from a pelvic injury at one of the most physical circuits on the calendar, the Irish rider is looking forward to the more flowing nature of Donington Park which also lends itself well to his RSV4.
Another British hero who is set to put on a show for his fans is Leon Camier, as he continues his return from injury following a crash in Spain back in April. Being cautious with his recovery, the British rider attempted a come back last time out at Imola, but he decided to sit out of the round.
Coming off the back of his best result of the season, Jordi Torres took a top five around Imola and will be looking to continue this run of form into the UK. Making some strong steps with his new Italian team, the Spanish rider put on an impressive performance at their home race, as the bike began to make some good progress.
Preparing to take on Donington Park for the first time since 2014, Loris Baz will look forward to making an appearance back in front of the British fans despite a tough start to his return. With a best result of seventh so far this season, the French rider has a strong record here – taking a double podium on his last visit – so will hope to make some improvements.
Not only will the British fans have the opportunity to see their regular heroes on track, but a host of wild cards will be hoping to put on a show for the fans. 2017’s podium finisher Leon Haslam makes his return once again around Donington Park, alongside 21 year old Bradley Ray who has been making the headlines in the UK. Gino Rea is set to make his WorldSBK debut and Yamaha test rider Niccolo Canepa will head out on track this weekend.
Pirelli solutions for WorldSBK and WorldSSP
Overall, the tyres that Pirelli carries across the Channel for all four classes which will participate in the DoningtonPark round are 4565. As always, this quantity, in addition to dry solutions, also includes rain tyres in case of bad weather and, for the WorldSBK and WorldSSP categories, also intermediate tyres.
In the WorldSBK class the riders can count on seven dry solutions plus the supersoft rear qualifier tyre. Three solutions are provided for the front and are all already known by riders who have been able to use them in previous rounds, Imola included. In addition to the standard SC1 and SC2 the development SC1 V0952 will be present, a tyre already used by riders in many rounds last year and throughout 2018. This option uses the same compound of the standard SC1 featuring different structural solutions.
As for the rear, the riders will have at their disposal four solutions, among these three in soft and one in medium compound. The soft are: the standard SC0, which as far as now was brought only to the thai round of Buriram, the W1050, which compared to the standard SC0 is generally more suitable for harsh temperatures, and the W1002 solution that uses the same compound of the W1050 but presents itself in the innovative 200/65 size.
The fourth and last option, which could be used especially if the temperatures are too low to allow the use of a soft solution, is represented by the standard SC1. In addition, in the event of rain, for the rear the riders will have the opportunity to test a new wet tyre, the X0333 solution, which compared to the standard one has been completely redesigned in terms of tread design, profiles and compound, and offers better performance especially in case of rain at low temperatures.
In the WorldSSP class the riders will find the same solutions already brought from Pirelli to Imola for a total of six solutions for dry, three front and three rear. At the front the standard SC1 and SC2 are supported by the development soft solution X0012 which at Imola was used a lot by the riders because it improves handling and performance.
For the rear, the development SC0 X0497, which compared to the standard solution should offer better resistance and consistent performance, will be an alternative option to the standard SC0 and SC1.
WorldSBK Championship Standings
Jonathan Rea 209
Chaz Davies 162
Tom Sykes 137
Marco Melandri 131
Xavi Fores 124
Michael Van Der Mark 113
Alex Lowes 92
Toprak Razgatlioglu 58
Jordi Torres 52
Loris Baz 52
Leon Camier 42
Michael Ruben Rinaldi 39
Lorenzo Savadori 33
Román Ramos 32
Leandro Mercado 31
Following the announcement from FIM Supersport World Championship legend Kenan Sofuoglu last time out at Imola, the WorldSSP grid now prepares for battle without the five time world champion threatening to disrupt the Yamaha party. Dominating the series, as five Yamaha riders sit in the top five positions of the championship, the tight battle heads into round six, with 12 points covering the top of the standings and no one is holding back.
Randy Krummenacher leads the way in the title charge, and he has certainly earned bragging rights so far this season. Putting on a stunning display around Assen to come from the back of the grid to second, he put up another fight around Imola to come from 11th to salvage a top five finish.
Sitting at the top of the standings after some misfortunes in the battle, the Swiss rider heads to Donington with a small advantage, hungry to be back on the top step. Securing a podium finish here in WorldSSP, he will certainly have the pace from the offset.
Reigning world champion Lucas Mahias will hope to put the start of his European stint behind him, not finishing on the podium since Thailand in March. Struggling with his corner exit in Spain and The Netherlands, he came to Imola full of confidence but crashed out of the fight for the lead and crossed the line in a credible eighth. Hungry for a taste of Prosecco DOC once again, and after taking second around Donington Park last season he will look at replicating this once more. Lending itself to the style of the YZF-R6, it could be a make or break round for Mahias.
WorldSSP rookie Sandro Cortese returns to Donington Park for the first time since 2009 when he was racing in the 125cc World Championship, and he will be keen to take his second ever victory in the new class. Despite a tough record here in the past, he will welcome a return to track he is familiar with and with a plan to change his riding style to adapt to the class, it will be interesting to watch his progress this weekend. Sitting four points off the top of the standings, the German is certainly not out of the title battle.
Quietly making some strong progress this season is Raffaele De Rosa, as the Italian has taken two podium finishes so far this season with his new team. Steadily moving up the results, he now sits in sixth position in the championship standings and is the first rider to bring the fight to the Yamaha’s. Moving back into WorldSSP for 2018, the Italian is making a strong impact and after scoring points in the WorldSBK race here last year he will have the circuit knowledge, and a good understanding of the bike to help him through the weekend.
British hopeful Luke Stapleford will hope to have a strong weekend in front of his home crowds, as he continues to put in a solid year on board his Triumph machine. With a fourth position here last season, there is a lot of hope for Stapleford has his 2018 season as been stronger so far. With the support of the home crowd and tapping into his local knowledge, he could pull out a surprise this weekend.
WorldSSP Championship Standings
Randy Krummenacher 81
Lucas Mahias 79
Sandro Cortese 77
Jules Cluzel 75
Federico Caricasulo 69
Raffaele De Rosa 51
Luke Stapleford 45
Niki Tuuli 38
Anthony West 27
Thomas Gradinger 22
Loris Cresson 20
Kyle Smith 19
Rob Hartog 19
Ayrton Badovini 12
Thitipong Warokorn 11
…29. Tom Toparis 1
Three races, three winners, eight different riders on the podium. The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season has been thrilling thus far, with little separating any of the top riders. The calendar reaches its equator at Donington Park Circuit, and there’s small room for error: it could be now or never to mount a championship challenge. With several world-class riders suddenly with their backs against the wall, expect a heart-stopping race at the UK temple.
Success in WorldSSP300 is all about finding the right moment to strike, and Ana Carrasco has proven to be an expert at doing just that. The Spaniard was astonishingly dominant at Imola, taking the Superpole by nearly a second and following it up with her first win of 2018, bringing the championship lead home with her. Judging by her consistency so far – she’s the only rider with all top-6 finishes this year, and has started every race no lower than fourth – Carrasco is the rider to beat.
Rookie rider Luca Grunwald couldn’t repeat his Assen win in Italy, but by finishing fourth the German remains second and just three points behind Carrasco. Grunwald has quietly shown his strengths on the KTM, and could well steal another last-lap win at Donington.
Another racer whose low-key consistency has kept him in a prime position to fight for the championship is Glenn van Straalen. One of only three riders with nothing but top-10 finishes so far, van Straalen may not have led many laps, but he’s always close to the top – a good reminder that the championship is a marathon, not a sprint.
Scott Deroue was on course for a third consecutive podium finish at Imola, before an untimely mistake on the final lap left him down and out, losing his front end at Acque Minerali. Bad luck for the Dutchman, who will be looking to bounce back at Donington, a track where he finished third last year.
2017 Donington winner Mika Pérez climbed fifteen places at Imola to scratch back eight points from an eighth-row start. It was a difficult weekend for Pérez, who had managed both previous Superpoles this season, but his performance was encouraging. A repeat UK win would shoot the Spaniard right back into the title tussle.
Koen Meuffels crashed for the second consecutive race at Imola, a huge disappointment for the Aragon race-winner, who had managed to slot himself into the front group. Meuffels has never quite left the front of the pack this season, yet has just those 25 points to show for it. The Dutchman will be desperate to score at Donington and reinvigorate his championship challenge.
One of the highlights from Imola was the improvement seen from the Yamaha riders all throughout the weekend, with Galang Hendra Pratama, Manuel González and Maria Herrera, who took the fastest lap, all fighting for podium places throughout the race. At Donington, it would not be surprising to see more Yamaha YZF-R3s in the mix.
WorldSSP300 Championship Standings
Ana Carrasco 48
Luca Grunwald 45
Scott Deroue 36
Glenn Van Straalen 36
Borja Sanchez 26
Koen Meuffels 25
Mika Perez 24
Nick Kalinin 23
Walid Khan 22
Dorren Loureiro 22
After the two first races of the season, many were left wondering: who, if anyone, could even rival Markus Reiterberger this year for the European Superstock 1000 Championship?
The German was utterly dominant at Aragon and Assen, but Imola offered much more than a glimmer of hope to his challengers – it shot the championship wide open. At Donington Park, several riders will have the chance to take the lead at the halfway point of the championship, a crucial psychological victory.
It’s still Reiterberger at the top of the standings, his fifth place at Imola just enough to scrape one point ahead. The BMW rider was adversely affected by the wet qualifying session, but even during the race Reiterberger was unable to follow the pace of the leading riders, running off the track on a couple of occasions. Still, the German is the man to beat – and will have a point to prove at Donington.
Breathing down his neck is Roberto Tamburini. The Italian’s Sunday was near-perfect, breezing his way up from 13th on the grid to second at the flag and particularly impressing in the second half of the race. Tamburini was truly sensational at his home track, only beaten to the flag by Imola wildcard Matteo Ferrari – but will he find that same form at Donington?
Maximilian Scheib was just one second off the pace at Imola, and despite starting from pole position he will have been satisfied at cutting 5 points off from the front gap. The Chilean came in third last year at the UK Round – a podium repeat would be welcomed, but Scheib will surely be in contention for all 25 points. His teammate Luca Vitali, meanwhile, will be searching for his first top-5 finish of the season, after two sixth-places and one seventh.
Federico Sandi has performed his personal best start to a season, those 42 points just ten shy of his total tally from last season. Scheib leapfrogged him into third position at Imola, but Sandi is in a good position to strike back. The Italian has never won a STK1000 race, but with margins throughout the category so tight, there’s no doubt that barrier could be broken very soon.
The 2018 season has been a frustrating experience so far for Florian Marino, with the Frenchman unable to reach the same heights as 2017, when he was just 19 points away from taking the title. Donington saw one of his best performances last year, a second-place finish which, if repeated, would put the sole Yamaha rider back on track for the season, and who knows if a title revival.
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