Press release previews from the WSBK teams and series organizers ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Donington Park:
WorldSBK crosses the channel for Round 6
Donington Park scene of latest encounter.
The legendary Donington Park circuit will play host to the sixth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend. The English venue is located in the East Midlands, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Derby and 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Leicester. It was inaugurated in 1931 and became a permanent racing circuit two years later.
Donington is particularly special in World Superbike history, as it hosted the very first race event in 1988. Home rider Roger Burnett picked up his first and what proved to be only pole position before Italians Davide Tardozzi and Marco Lucchinelli triumphed in the two heats, with Lucchinelli coming out the overall winner. This would prove to be the only round split into two heats, with the two-race format known today coming in for the following event.
Heading to England in 2015, four British riders head up the World Championship, but only two of them have ever won at Donington. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) is the second most successful rider at the track after only Carl Fogarty, having done the double for the last two years. Sykes also impressed in 2008, finished second in race one as a wildcard rider while Troy Bayliss celebrated victory.
Without doubt, KRT's Jonathan Rea is the British rider generating headlines this season. Perhaps his best Donington memory is that of 2012, when he won the second race after the BMWs of Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri came together at the last corner. Haslam will certainly be hoping to avoid such drama this weekend; he heads to Donington off the back of three ‘bogey circuits’ for him in Aragon, Assen and Imola, with his second race in Italy having featured one of the biggest crashes of his racing career. The Aprilia rider is now attempting to put the title attack back on track in front of his many fans, friends and family members at Donington.
Elsewhere, Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils) has become the first Spanish rider to collect a World Superbike podium trophy since Carlos Checa. However, he has another new track to learn. On the other hand, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team) will be praying for race finishes and a strong haul of points following two very costly race retirements – both because of matters beyond the rider’s control – last time out. The Welshman's team-mate Davide Giugliano took the paddock by storm two weekends ago, dramatically clinching pole position before picking up a Race 1 rostrum finish; all the more impressive considering this was his first round back since his pre-season testing crash.
The UK Round could be a telling one for the respective Pata Honda World Superbike Team and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki; both are still looking for the consistent rate of success they yearned at the start of the campaign. For the Suzuki outfit, based in Dorset, the learning curve has increased in size since the introduction of a new electronics package from the Aragón Round onwards. Last year, Alex Lowes finished on the podium at Donington.
Randy de Puniet last raced in Donington Park in 2009, when he clinched the second of his two career MotoGP podium finishes, taking third behind current MotoGP front-runner Andrea Dovizioso and two-time WorldSBK Champion Colin Edwards on a very wet day.
At Honda, memories of the longest ever run of consecutive points finishes are but a distant memory for reigning World Champion Sylvain Guintoli, who at Imola registered a second non-finish of 2015, while Michael van der Mark also had a difficult weekend following the heroics of Assen when the Dutchman clinched top three finishes in both of his home races.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) is another rider with a Donington Park podium to his name, having finished on the rostrum racing alongside Max Biaggi at Aprilia in 2011. The Kent rider had made his World Superbike debut at the circuit two years earlier, as a wildcard with the Airwaves Yamaha Team with which he won the 2009 British Superbike crown.
Expected to return to action is Nico Terol, who was replaced at Althea Racing by Michel Fabrizio for Imola. Terol had been injured in the previous gathering at Assen and now hopes to be back in action at a circuit he knows from his Grand Prix racing days. Others are looking to back up a strong Imola performance as Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) and Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven) strive for success.
Expectation high as WSS heads to Donington
Heading to the Land of Hope and Glory, Donington Park will bring the curtain down on the first half of the World Supersport season for 2015. Last year at the British circuit, it was Michael van der Mark who triumphed after a last-lap pass on Cluzel. The Dutchman would go on to take that season’s title prior to his switch to the World Superbike class.
As for Frenchman Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), he is attempting to fight back to the front of the championship, having led it after his Phillip Island victory at the top end of the season. He finds himself 40 points in arrears of Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and still feeling the effects of costly engine problems in Thailand and Aragon. Sofuoglu, on the other hand, sealed a very impressive win at Imola despite the knowledge that his baby son was critically ill in hospital; a true mark of the Turk’s determined character.
Another rider still in the fight and not to be forgotten is P.J. Jacobsen. The New Yorker has impressed this season and is officially Sofuoglu’s closest challenger. The Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki rider heads to Great Britain off the back of two podiums and a pair of fourth place finishes; he sits 37 points behind the championship leader with a maximum of 175 points up for grabs between Britain and the Qatar season finale on 18 October.
Back on the podium in his home race, Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) seems to have readjusted to his F3 675 motorcycle, while British riders Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) and Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) are keen to impress the home crowd. In Smith’s case, this will be his first race since debuting as a television commentator, having provided the soundtrack to Imola’s round of the Pata Junior Cup powered by Honda. Another rider looking to iron out some ups and downs in World Supersport is Ratthapark Wilairot (CORE’’ Motorsport Thailand Honda), who has gone through a poor patch of form since winning for the first time at Buriram.
Finland's Niki Tuuli will take advantage of the break in the STK600 calendar by making his World Supersport debut with his Kallio Racing Team, while Alexey Ivanov will return to action after his encouraging thirteenth-place finish in a one-off ride at Aragon last month. British wildcards Kyle Ryde (Pacedayz European TrackDays Yamaha), Luke Stapleford and Sam Hornsey (Profile Racing Triumph) elevate the number of entries for the UK round to 28. Stapleford and Ryde currently sit atop the British Supersport Championship table.
Superstock 1000 back at Donington after five-year absence
Lorenzo Savadori (Nuova M2 Racing Aprilia) heads to the fourth round of the 2015 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup after clinching a second consecutive victory of the season at Imola. However, Donington Park could present a more difficult challenge for the Italian, who has raced there on only one previous occasion: 125 Grand Prix racing in 2009.
The last FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race at Donington came in 2009. Xavier Simeon started on pole position with a Ducati, winning the race from Claudio Corti’s Suzuki and Honda-shod Maxime Berger.
This time round, Savadori holds the advantage points-wise, helped by the crash that took erstwhile championship leader Roberto Tamburini (MotoxRacing BMW) out of the Assen race earlier this season. Similar happenings have affected the likes of Ondrej Jezek (Triple-M by Barni Ducati), Kev Coghlan (MRS Yamaha) and Raffaele de Rosa (Althea Racing Ducati), who are all in contention but have lost points through an assortment of incidents.
Out of action completely will be Coghlan's team mate Florian Marino, who will be replaced by fellow Frenchman Mathieu Gines. As spectacular as his Imola highside was, the Frenchman was left with an arm fractured in two places which means he misses Donington and hopes to be back for Portimao. Since the Imola race, he has undergone surgery in Italy before heading home.
The Superstock 1000 class will be the only Superstock class racing at Donington, as the Superstock 600 riders had two races in Aragon as they do not compete at the UK Round.
Home Round Beckons For Both KRT Riders at Donington
The sixth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship takes place at Donington Park this coming weekend and it is the only UK round for on-form KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
Rea, who has won a remarkable eight out of ten races so far in 2015, has also notched up a race win for himself at Donington in the past, capitalising on an opportunity in the final lap of race two in 2012 to score a popular home victory.
Tom Sykes, Champion in 2013 with KRT, is the most successful WSB rider of recent times at Donington, having taken a double win not only last year but also in 2013. He is now looking toward his first 2015 season race win harder than ever, after scoring two second place finishes at Imola last time out.
Since joining Kawasaki this season Rea has become the joint eighth most successful WSB rider of all time in terms of individual race wins, having grown his overall tally to 23, thanks to a double victory at Imola on May 10th.
Rea clicked through the landmark of 150 race starts at Imola, and has now finished on the podium of 52 individual WSB races.
Sykes made real progress with the balance of his set-up at round five in Imola, modifying his machine settings and aspects of his riding style after the advent of new technical regulations for 2015.
Approaching their home round Rea is the championship leader with 240 points and Sykes is up to third, on 128 points.
The 4.023km Donington layout Rea and Sykes will compete on this weekend is one of sharp contrasts, with the majority of the circuit being flowing and rhythmical but the final Melbourne Loop section featuring one chicane, two hairpins, and three areas of heavy braking.
Two more European circuits will come along for the WSB riders soon after Donington, with raceday at Portimao arriving on June 7th and Misano hosting its WSB weekend between June 19th and 21st.
Jonathan Rea: “I think the formula we have found in the working relationship between me and the rest of the team, my crew chief and the engineers at KHI is going very well. We need to continue that way of working because Donington has presented some challenges to me in the past, as a rider. But last year, when I look at the results and watch the races again, it is clear that it is a track that really suits the Ninja ZX-10R, thanks to the stability of the bike in the last sector and the agility and handling of the KRT ZX-10R in the first sector. I expect to be strong but we do not know how strong we can be until Saturday qualifying, after we have completed our preparations for the race. Being a home race does not change how I approach the weekend, or how I ride. I do find it bizarre how some guys at home find that X-factor, but we just treat it like another race. I have a lot of family coming over from Ireland and a lot of my British fans have been telling me on social media that they are coming, so it is going to be amazing to come home and see all my supporters. Especially after the run I have. I would say that the UK is where I have most of my fanbase, so hopefully I can meet a lot of people and make them all proud.”
Tom Sykes: “I’m looking forward to Donington because as the season has progressed I have managed to make myself more comfortable with this year’s regulations. So much so that we set a new lap record in Imola, at a place I did not expect to do that. We are definitely getting there now and I am looking for a setting that allows me to do that kind of lap time, but for 20 laps. We still miss a little bit but this is just purely from the balance between the bike and me. I am really looking forward to improving that and then we can be very consistent for the races. There is no reason why we can’t be. The rules have changed for everybody and Kawasaki is doing a great job, reacting fast to the rule changes and they have made things happen quickly. If we have been fast in previous events we can also be fast at Donington. It’s a track where we have had good results in the past so hopefully, after the improvements in Imola, we can aim to do something similar. At your home race you see a lot of familiar faces from your racing history, and you get to see more family and friends. We have had special memories at Donington in the last two years and it would be nice after the difficulty of the start of the season to feel that kind of magic again.”
Donington Park Preview
Team Althea Racing is on English soil for round six of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship, boosted by the progress made by Matteo Baiocco at the team’s home round of Imola and with Nico Terol making his return after a period of recovery and rehabilitation following his crash in Assen.
At Donington Park, the heart of the World Superbikes, with the first ever round having taken place here back in 1988, the weather is always the biggest unknown, with the risk of rain and very cold temperatures. Unlike at other circuits, riders don’t reach extremely high speeds at Donington Park and the violent acceleration phases that characterize the track can cause grip issues as the tyres struggle to reach temperature and also test the riders. Often races are run in the rain, which makes the track slippery and really puts the riders to the test as well as showcasing their level of ability in wet conditions.
Matteo Baiocco, having competed in the British championship in 2013 on board the Ducati 1199 Panigale, knows the climate well and has many fans awaiting him here. Baiocco concluded the recent Italian round positively, in eighth and sixth place, a sure sign that his feeling with the bike is improving, Now he plans to focus on qualifying well in order to start further ahead on the grid and be able to fight for the important positions.
Nico Terol was unable to compete at Imola, still recovering after a crash at Assen which left him with a fractured right radius, but he is now set to return for the British round. Terol already raced here with a 125 GP back in 2005 and now he prepares for what will be a tough weekend, on a different bike and also physically-speaking after a month’s break. The Spaniard is keen to get back on the bike but must first see how his right wrist bears up on the bike, before trying to gain a good result for himself and for the team.
Matteo Baiocco: “I’m really pleased to race in England again after the BSB in 2013 where I left good memories and met many great people who I know will be back to see me. At Imola we collected a lot of data and I’ll be doing my best to complete a better qualifying because the positions achieved in Italy are only the start of what we can do, we can aim higher. At Donington there will be a different schedule e perhaps doing all the qualifying sessions on Friday will help us, without having to wait until Saturday for the decisive session. I’m pleased Nico’s back, I get on well with him and although I’ll do all I can to beat him I’m pleased he’s fit and well.”
Nico Terol: “I’m impatient for Donington Park after the accident in Holland. I’ve finished my rehabilitation and am continuing to gain strength in my wrist, I feel quite good. To stop for a month and miss the team’s home round was hard but the only important thing was to try to get back in shape as soon as possible. I can’t wait to get back on my Ducati, and above all see my team; they’ve all been really supportive over these last weeks.”
After a 5-year hiatus, the Superstock 1000 category returns to race at Donington Park where, in 2009, it was a Ducati that won the race.
Raffaele De Rosa will have to take a position of attack this weekend to try and catch up as much as possible after the Imola crash. We’re already half way through the brief Superstock championship that’s been positive up until now and, still fighting for the title, De Rosa will have to do his best at the circuit at which he made his debut in the 125 championship in 2005.
On his side, Luca Salvadori will also need to complete an important race, after the good position achieved in italy where he concluded eighth. Salvadori is showing increased feeling with his Ducati Panigale R and is demonstrating that he has grown a lot since the start of the season. His goal will be to repeat and improve the results obtained at Imola.”
The Donington Park circuit is located in the East Midlands, 180 km north of London and close to Sherwood Forest, and was built inside a natural amphitheater that favours race-watching. It was constructed in 1931 specifically to host motorcycle racing. During the Second World War activities were interrupted and the circuit closed until 1971, the year in which it was reopened by a local businessman who was a particular fan of motorsports. The track is 4023 metres long, with 7 right-hand corners and 5 left-hand corners. It runs in a clockwise direction and the rider on pole starts on the left. The incline is 8% and corners range from a minimum of 24 metres to a maximum of 333 metres.
The closest airport is East Midlands Airport, just 3km from the racetrack.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team is UK-bound for SBK Round 6
Arezzo/Borgo Panigale (Italy), Tuesday 19 May 2015 - The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team and riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano now travel on to the UK, and the historic Donington Park circuit, for round 6 of the 2015 Superbike World Championship.
At the most recent championship event, which took place at Imola in Italy just over one week ago, Giugliano enjoyed a very positive weekend in front of the ‘home’ crowd. Participating in his very first races of the 2015 season, the Italian reached the podium in race 1, crossing the line third, before concluding the second of the day’s races in fourth place. Davies unfortunately had a weekend to forget, unable to finish either race due to technical problems.
Now the Italian squad turns its attention to the British round where, in recent years, Chaz’s best result has been fifth, a result he scored in 2014, while Davide has finished races in fourth place in both 2013 and 2014. Giugliano, who has now resumed a more ‘normal’ training programme, will be hoping to consolidate his recent Imola results. Davies will be working hard to regain some of the ground lost at Imola and score as many championship points as possible in front of his home crowd.
Heading into the sixth of thirteen scheduled rounds, Chaz Davies lies fourth in the overall standings, having collected 123 points thus far. Davide Giugliano, having only participated in Round 5 at Imola, has 29 points and positions seventeenth. Ducati is third in the manufacturer’s standings with a total of 164 points.
Comments ahead of the event:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7)
“Last year we had a pretty average weekend at Donington. It’s always been a bit of a difficult one for me actually and I’d class it as similar to Assen, though having said that we did alright at Assen this year so I guess it’s a case of turning up and seeing what we can do. Anyway, it’s a home race for me so the extra support will be nice and my aim, as ever, will be to finish both races on the podium.”
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34)
“I really like the Donington track and we did well there last year, scoring pole position and fourth place in race 2, though I crashed in race 1 when my glove got caught up with the throttle. This week I’ve focused on training, as I want to get back in shape as soon as possible. Over just a few days I haven’t been able to do a great deal but I’ve already improved a little. The races keep coming, and I really suffered at Imola, so it’s important to return to competitiveness as quickly as possible. I’ll do my best to do well again this coming weekend…”
Pata Honda targets Donington Park podium
Round six of the 2015 World Superbike championship takes place this weekend (22-24 May) at Donington Park in the UK, with the Pata Honda pairing of Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark looking to make further progress on their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.
For Guintoli, the Donington Park event is almost a ‘home’ round, despite having been born in Montélimar in France. The 32-year-old French rider lives with his English wife, Caroline, and four children less than 30 minutes’ drive from the 4.023km circuit, which lies adjacent to East Midlands airport near Derby.
The reigning WSBK champion, who holds sixth place in the current points standings, climbed the Donington Park podium in 2014 and, despite having not been able to return to the rostrum thus far this season, he has felt some positive progress following his transition to CBR machinery.
Guintoli’s Pata Honda team-mate, Michael van der Mark, took a double debut podium at his own home race at Assen in the Netherlands last month and is keen to taste the champagne once again this weekend with another top three result at Donington Park.
The 22-year-old World Superbike debutant enjoyed success at Donington Park last season, taking victory on his way to the 2014 World Supersport title on the 600cc version of his Honda CBR machine.
2015 World Superbike championship, round six
Donington Park, UK
Event schedule (local times GMT +1):
Friday 22 May
10:00-10:45 – Free practice 1
13:45-14:30 – Free practice 2
16:30-17:15 – Free practice 3
Saturday 23 May
09:30-10:00 – Free practice 4
12:00-12:15 – Superpole 1
12:25-12:40 – Superpole 2
Sunday 24 May
09:00-09:15 – Warm-up
12:00 – Race 1 (23 Laps, 92.529km)
15:00 – Race 2 (23 Laps, 92.529km)
We managed to salvage something in race one at Imola and took some positives from that, but we were quite a bit off the pace and we still have some steps to make so I can ride the CBR the way I’d like. We’ve got some new things to try this weekend at Donington though, and it’s really good that the team is working so hard and responding so positively. I really like the Donington track, especially the fast rhythm of the first part and, although some other riders don’t like the back section, I see it as a couple of good overtaking opportunities and a lot of fun. I’ve had some good races at Donington in the past and it’s always nice to be racing at ‘home’ with my family close by. There will be a lot of friends coming to support this weekend so let’s hope we can put on a bit of a show for them.
Michael van der Mark
I really like the Donington Park circuit and I’m looking forward to going back there this weekend. I had a pretty good result there last year and I’m hoping it will suit the CBR a little better. The first part is really fast and free-flowing and a lot of fun, but we’ll have to work hard to get the bike working in the last part with the two hairpins. I’m still a rookie and still learning to ride a superbike but it would be good to get back to a position where we can fight for the podium on Sunday.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
The results at Imola were not what we were aiming for and, of course, the work has continued since we got back to the workshop. We have some chassis components to try this weekend to improve stability under heavy acceleration without compromising grip levels, and we’ve been testing a variety of electronics options on the dyno. We have also planned a meeting with the guys from Honda UK who had a British Superbike race at Donington recently. The track has produced mixed results for us in the past but that won’t stop the determination of everyone to get the CBR back on the podium.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki excited to race at home
The sixth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship sees Voltcom Crescent Suzuki set to race on home soil this week as the team travel to Donington Park for 2015’s only race event in the UK.
Local rider Alex Lowes, based just ten minutes from the Derby circuit, is eagerly anticipating his home race at his favourite track and has a one-off RST race suit to celebrate the occasion! Having mounted the rostrum three times during his previous BSB and WSBK appearances, Lowes is confident his knowledge of the circuit can aid the development of the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R’s new electronics further. Randy de Puniet is equally enthusiastic about a return to the British track – having claimed his last 250GP win (in 2005) and a third place podium during the 2009 MotoGP™ here on his previous visits – and is looking forward to the atmosphere created by the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team’s home crowd. The celebrations will also continue with a commemorative logo representing 30 years of Suzuki’s GSX-R range positioned on Lowes and de Puniet’s race bikes for the remainder of the season.
Set in the heart of the historic Donington Hall Estate, North West Leicestershire – 190kms from the UK’s capital, London – and established as a motor racing circuit in 1931, the 4023m long layout encompasses 12 corners throughout its clockwise, undulating design. The location’s natural amphitheatre creates perfect viewing for the spectators as the WSBK riders tackle the high-acceleration and hard-breaking corners of the British track.
Donington Park will see Lowes and de Puniet complete all three timed-for-qualifying free practice sessions on Friday 22nd May, the first of which commencing at 10:00BST, with an earlier than usual Superpole starting at 12:00BST on Saturday 23rd. Sunday’s two 23 lap races will run at 12:00BST and 15:00BST respectively, with a reduction of three laps if the British rain descends.
“Donington has always been one of my favourite tracks and as it’s only ten minutes from where I live it really is a home race! I’ve made some great memories here over the years – including getting a WSBK podium on the Suzuki last year – and the UK fans are always in great spirits, really supportive of all the British riders, and Crescent as the only British-based team, so it’s a fantastic atmosphere all weekend. It’s a technical layout and I always enjoy the challenge but I know the track so well, so I’m really looking forward to getting started on Friday and getting back out there on the GSX-R.”
Randy de Puniet:
“I have good memories of Donington Park because I had my last GP win there in 2005, in the 250cc class, and in 2009 I also finished on the podium there for MotoGP™. It is a small track and I really like it, especially the first part, although not so much the final two corners. I really like to race in England because the British fans love motorcycles, they respect the riders, the atmosphere is always great and it is always a pleasure to race there. The weather is always critical, but we haven’t had a wet race yet this year, so maybe it will be our first one! I really hope that we can find the solutions to set the base for the GSX-R this weekend so we can start to work on Friday morning, I want to enjoy riding the bike and to be able to ride a good race on Sunday.”
HOME RACE FOR APRILIA RIDER LEON HASLAM
ANOTHER NEW TRACK FOR JORDI TORRES, PUMPED UP AFTER HIS PODIUM FINISH IN ITALY.
Noale, 20 May 2015 – World Superbike crosses the Channel to take on the Donington circuit in England. This is the homeland of factory derivative bikes in terms of passion, as demonstrated by the thousands of fans that turn out every year to challenge the proverbial unpredictable weather to cheer on their heroes. All the more reason this year, with English riders occupying the top spots of the overall standings.
The pack of Brits includes Team Aprilia Racing – Red Devils rider, Leon Haslam, a true home town hero and contender for the championship title. The rider from Ealing, who lives just a few kilometres from the track, is coming from a crash in race 2 at Imola. Leon, currently lying second in the Championship standings, will have a medical check-up on Thursday to verify his conditions in view of the weekend. In any case his recovery seems to be going well and the tough English rider has already confirmed that he will be participating in his home race.
Leon Haslam: “I can't wait for Donington, it's my home race and the only chance I get to race in front of my home fans. It's also a track I know very well and should suit the Aprilia. I have to wait and see how my injury is but I'm confident it will not affect me. Also I know the team has been working really hard to improve the bike, so I'm excited to test the new components”.
The podium finish at Imola, his first in his young SBK career, has Jordi Torres pumped up, determined to confirm the level of competitiveness that he demonstrated on the Italian track. The gap behind the leaders was reduced on the complex track on the banks of the Santerno which the Spaniard was tackling for the first time. The situation will be the same at Donington and for Torres it represents the most critical point of his rookie season in Superbike. The Spanish rider is trying to learn the ins and outs of the English track and he is analysing it by splitting it into two parts. The first part, fast and smooth, seems to suit his riding style well and it favours the characteristics of the RSV4, whereas the abrupt braking sections toward the end are one of the aspects where Jordi still needs to improve.
Jordi Torres: “I'm very motivated after the podium at Imola. We want to stay in the top positions. Donington Park is a new circuit for me but it is very different than Imola. The first two parts seem to suit us, both for the RSV4 RF and for my riding style, whereas the last section is where we'll need to improve: tight turns and abrupt braking sessions. I know that it will be difficult playing on the English riders' home pitch, so we'll need to give it our all because they are always very fast. To prepare for the new track I'm still watching a lot of videos and playing on the simulators in order to streamline the learning process as much as possible.”
Sofuoglu Continues His Championship Push
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider, Kenan Sofuoglu, returns to action in the FIM Supersport World Championship this weekend to defend his championship lead and attempt to extend his race winning run.
Sofuoglu’s latest win, at Imola in the most recent round of the championship on May 10th, made it three victories in a row and 30 in his record-setting career within the WSS class. He leads the current championship by 37 points after five rounds.
With three world championships to his name – the most recent with Kawasaki in 2012 – Kenan is the most successful WSS rider in history, having 14 more race wins than any other rider.
Sofuoglu was ready to call-off his most recent championship appearance at Imola after the sudden illness of his young son Hamza but with his son’s condition stabilized he went on to race and take the win. He will work towards winning again at Donington before heading straight back Turkey to be with his family.
Kenan was second on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R at Donington in 2013, having qualified second for the race, but he has won there in the past, taking a WSS race victory in 2007.
PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) also has winning ambitions at Donington, having racked up four podium places in the past two years, but not quite his first WSS win yet. The American rider knows Donington from long before he joined the WSS ranks, having raced in British Supersport and British Superbike before moving on to WSS competition last year.
A great home result of fifth was a career best for WSS rookie Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) at the most recent round in Imola. He will arrive in the UK for round six full of confidence but needing to learn the intricacies of the Donington layout. He did not race at the English circuit during his successful Superstock 600 championship campaign for Kawasaki last season. Marco is currently tenth in the championship rankings.
A tough start to the year from Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) has nonetheless included a top four race finish in Thailand. He is one place behind Faccani now, in 11th place. Once again Aiden Wagner from Australia will join the Intermoto Ponyexpress team, as he did at Imola.
Dominic Schmitter and Christian Gamarino head up the challenge of Team Go Eleven Kawasaki once again.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I will go to race at Donington and of course if I race I will do my best. I cannot say that my preparations have been very good for Donington but I hope to compete well, as I did at Imola. I think my physical condition is good, and my motivation is high, because I want to keep fighting for my championship. My Kawasaki has been working well and should work well again at Donington.”
British rider Smith to make UK racing debut
Pata Honda rider Kyle Smith is aiming to get back to the podium in round six of the 2015 World Supersport championship this weekend at Donington Park in the UK.
Strangely enough, despite an increased number of friends and relatives watching him in action this weekend, Huddersfield-born Smith doesn’t see the Donington race as his home round as much as Aragon or perhaps Jerez, having moved to Spain with his family at the age of six.
In fact, despite racing at world championship level in Moto2 and now World Supersport, Smith has never raced at Donington Park or, indeed, any other British circuit so this weekend will mark his UK racing debut.
However, the 23-year-old is certainly keen to return his Pata Honda CBR600RR to the front of the World Supersport pack after disappointingly crashing out of the fifth-round race at Imola in Italy two weeks ago.
Smith remounted at Imola in last position and fought his way back to 15th place taking a single point at the chequered flag, but he and his Pata Honda team know that a repeat of the podium results he has already scored at Aaragon and Assen this season should be within his grasp at Donington.
It’s strange to think that although I’m an English rider, I’ve never raced in the UK before. But I’m really looking forward to my debut and there’ll be quite a few family and friends coming over from Yorkshire, as well as my family from Spain. It’ll also sound a bit weird that I’m hoping it’ll be cold at Donington because I think that will reduce the front-end problems we had when we were at Imola. It’s important to get back to the front and challenge for wins as well as podium finishes. The circuit looks mega fast and fun, but I won’t be able to let you know just how much fun until I’ve ridden it on Friday morning.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Like some other teams, we really suffered from a limited front tyre choice at Imola and Kyle struggled with a lack of front-end grip all weekend, which ultimately led to him crashing early in the race. When the track temperature gets hotter, the CBR needs some more tyre options than we had at our disposal. But we’re expecting cooler temperatures this weekend at Donington so we look forward to Kyle being right back on the pace and fighting for those podium positions once more.
MRS Yamaha Shapes Up for British Round
The MRS Yamaha Team is ready for more racing action as it heads to the United Kingdom for the sixth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship held at Donington Park Racing Circuit this weekend.
Sunday's race marks the half way stage of the 2015 season and is extra special, not only because it's Kev Coghlan's home round, but also as it sees the Superstock 1000 Cup class return to circuit Donington for the first time in five years.
With the support of his family, friends and fans visiting the track, the Scotsman is eager to ride his YZF-R1M on British soil. Two weeks ago he just missed out on a podium finish at Imola when he rode from a sixth qualifying position to fourth place in a hard-fought race.
Coghlan currently holds fourth in the overall standings with 39 points. His teammate Florian Marino remains on 18 points and dropped to ninth in the championship rankings after he sustained a double fracture to his left arm at the previous round. He will sit out this weekend's racing action with fellow Frenchman Mathieu Gines filling the empty seat.
Gines has a lot of experience with Yamaha as a manufacturer; not only does he ride on the YZF-R1 for the GMT94 Yamaha team in the FIM Endurance World Championship, but he is also very successful on the YZF-R1M in the IDM Superstock 1000 class, which he currently leads by 20 points.
Similar to Coghlan and many other riders, Gines is also a fan of Donington Park, which has hosted many World Championship events. The last FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race at Donington came in 2009, before the arrival of Formula One the next year. The prevalent off-camber nature of the circuit and the stop-and-go final section, turns finding a balanced set-up for the bike into a quest for compromise between agility and stability. Add this to changeable weather conditions and the fact that many riders have not visited this track and it becomes clear why race fans can't wait for the fourth round of the Superstock season to start.
"It being my home race all my friends and family will come down to watch, so I'm really looking forward to it. It's always nice to go to your home round, because even people who are not your friends or your family, just the general public, are happy to meet you around the paddock and it gives you an extra boost for the race. We had a lot people visiting us at Aragon and Imola to watch the race, but at the home races you always get that extra support there. I would say that Donington is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar for the year. It's not somewhere where I have ridden an awful lot, but it's a nice place to ride. I had a third place there last year in the Supersport and it's a track I like. The weather can be a bit unpredictable, but either in the wet or the dry, I think we should be able to have a good weekend. The bike should suit the track a bit more than it did with Imola at the last round, so we will be hoping for a better result."
"I am very excited to ride with the official Yamaha team in the Superstock 1000 Cup, because it's a great opportunity for me and it can open some doors. I'm very happy to be part of this race, I will try to do my best and I will certainly learn during this weekend for the future. I know the YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M from the IDM Superstock and endurance races, but the tyres in Superstock 1000 are different from what I've been riding with since the start of the year. I rode at Donington in 2007 in the Superstock600 and the track is really nice. I've seen it a lot on television during the GP's and it always looks like a lot of fun. This weekend the Superstock 1000 goes back to Donington Park for the first time in five years. For me that's a good thing, because most of the riders are young and it's a new track for a lot of them, so I have the chance of getting good results. However, in Britain there's always a chance of rain. I hope for a dry race so we can get good results. We will also give it our maximum if it rains, but it will be more fun in the sunshine."
Thoughts and expectations before Donington’s battle commences
Current top-5 WorldSBK riders anticipate the round ahead.
The official press conference of WorldSBK round six took place today at Donington Park Circuit, involving the current top-5 riders in the championship standings, four of them being native to the UK. KRT entries Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, together with factory Aprilia duo Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres and Ducati’s Chaz Davies answered a variety of questions regarding the upcoming race weekend.
The biggest hype surrounded the potential in-team fight for the win between Kawasaki’s Rea and Sykes, who scored a double one-two last time out in Imola. “It’s true that between us we have won the last five races at Donington” said Isle of Man resident Rea, “but it would be foolish to discount a number of other riders. There are other British riders capable of winning” he added. Rea’s confidence is buoyed, in light of his remarkable winning start to 2015.
Four time race winner at Donington, Sykes is equally confident of his chances on Sunday: “At Imola we made another step forward. If we can improve things for the latter part of the race, then we should be in with a shout.”
Local man Leon Haslam is not concerned by the recent rib injury sustained at Imola a fortnight ago and hopes to return to the podium aboard his RSV4 RF machine: “Donington Park is definitely one of my favourite circuits. It won’t be easy to race with cracked ribs but I’ve been doing everything I can to give myself the best chance of doing well. The team has also worked hard to improve the bike and we have some new things to try tomorrow.”
Despite not being one of his kindest tracks, Donington will be a very important hunting ground for Welshman Chaz Davies after the double disappointment of Imola. “Anything can happen, with the way Johnny is riding it will take a lot of effort to overcome him. You never know what’s around the corner, the key for us is to focus on our own performance and to try to put the Ducati back on the top step.”
Spain’s Jordi Torres is yet to familiarise himself with the Leicestershire track, but was warmly welcomed by the fans who clearly like his witty approach to life in the WorldSBK paddock. “The podium in Imola was lucky because Chaz had a problem, but I celebrated anyway. This weekend is another new track and my goal is the same as it was since Australia. I need to continue to change my riding style and I hope to finish this time less than twenty-six seconds behind the leader” joked the Spaniard.
Earlier today, a typical British sports day comprising several traditional events saw the stars of WorldSBK round 6 go head to head, with Team GB vs Team ROW (Rest of World) in a fun competition.
Each team consisted of four riders. Team GB brought together riders from 3 manufacturers, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) while the Rest of the World squad comprised Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven), Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who was the fourth team member due to his Andorran residency.
Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils rider Leon Haslam was also present, but took up the role of official starter and referee following his recent Imola spill.
There was a single race of the following disciplines: Egg & Spoon race, Sack race and 3 Legged race, with points awarded to the first 3 in each. The points were then added together to give the overall winning team which after several highly entertaining close finishes saw Team GB crowned as pre-event champions, beating their rivals 11 points to 7.
Whilst Team GB triumphed in 2 of the races, Roman Ramos was impressive, convincingly winning the sack race much to the dismay of Tom Sykes who stumbled in the run in to the finish.