WorldSBK Prosecco DOC UK Round, Donington Park: Preview – World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300, STK1000
There’s no better track to see history be made than Donington Park, as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returns to where it all began 30 years ago. Set in the rolling Leicestershire hills, the quintessentially British countryside takes on a new role when WorldSBK bikes roar out of pit lane and down through the cascading Craner Curves. With records to be broken and even more history to be made, the Prosecco DOC UK Round could be one to remember for a long time.
Fresh off the back of a sensational double secured in Italy, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has now equalled Carl Fogarty’s record of 59 victories, and he will look to go one further this time out 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 Provec squad will be looking to take the most victories ever in front of the British fans.
The previous king of Donington Park, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 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.
Ducati’s Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 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 (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 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 – and he will hope to go one step further in 2018.
Continuing to recover from a monster crash around Buriram International Circuit in Thailand, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) 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. With a podium here in 2013’s race two, he has a varied record but will mainly be focusing on getting the Aprilia back into the top five pace he saw last season.
Another British hero who is set to put on a show for his fans is Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), 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. Heading to Donington Park and hoping to make the race start, Camier will look forward to continuing to develop his Honda CBR10000RR Fireblade SP2 after such a strong start with his the new team.
Coming off the back of his best result of the season, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 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. With a tough record around Donington Park in the past, it will be a testing weekend for Torres.
Preparing to take on Donington Park for the first time since 2014, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) 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 (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) makes his return once again around Donington Park, alongside 21 year old Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) who has been making the headlines in the UK. Gino Rea (OMG Racing UK) is set to make his WorldSBK debut and Yamaha test rider Niccolo Canepa (Yamaha Motor Europe) will head out on track this weekend.
Don’t miss a minute of the Prosecco DOC UK Round, as riders prepare to take on the circuit of two halves. Lights go out for Race One on Saturday 26th at 13.15 LT (GMT +1), and Race Two at 13.00.
Following the announcement from FIM Supersport World Championship legend Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 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 (BARDHAL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) 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 (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) 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 (Kallio Racing) 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 (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), 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 (Profile Racing) 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.
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 (DS Junior Team) 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 (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) 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 (KTM Fortron Racing Team). 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 (Motoport Kawasaki) 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 (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) 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 (KTM Fortron Junior Team) 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 (BIBLION YAMAHA MOTOXRACING), Manuel González (Pertamina Almeria BCD Junior Team by MS) and Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), 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.
After the two first races of the season, many were left wondering: who, if anyone, could even rival Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing- Van Zon-BMW) 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 (Berclaz Racing Team SA). 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 (Barni Racing Team) – but will he find that same form at Donington?
Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) 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 (Aprilia Racing Team), meanwhile, will be searching for his first top-5 finish of the season, after two sixth-places and one seventh.
Federico Sandi (MOTOCORSA Racing) 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 (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team), 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.
Don’t miss what promises to be an electric fourth race of the 2018 STK1000 championship, as the bikes charge into Donington Park.