WorldSBK, Donington round preview
Whilst riders will be working to find the best set-up around Donington Park, a shadow will be cast over the Pata UK round as Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) continues to fight in hospital following a training incident last week. The American rider is in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, as the WorldSBK paddock sends support and best wishes to Hayden and his family.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. Race One will be at 15:00LT on Saturday, as Race Two ends the weekend’s action at 15:00LT.
The 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.
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.
World Supersport 300
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.
European Superstock 1000
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.
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.