Rome (Italy), Tuesday 21 May 2013 – The eni FIM Superbike World Championship gets to the heart of England for Round 5 at Donington Park. The British venue was built in the ‘30s of the last century and saw a new life in the 1970s, becoming one of the most famous tracks for motorcycle racing in the world. Donington Park hosted the first ever World Superbike Round on April 3rd 1988, with pole position scored by local rider Roger Burnett on a Honda.
British riders always had a strong connection to their home round, but rarely got on top step of the podium in recent times. In 2012 Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) was the first rider from the UK to win a race at Donington Park after four years – before him, James Toseland was the last to score a victory (2007, race 1). Rea won one of the most unpredictable races of all time, settled at the very last turn of the race, after a collision with Leon Haslam and a consequent “domino effect” that involved Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), who had previously tried to overtake Haslam, too – team mate at the time – for the race win.
Local boy Leon Haslam, now back with the Honda family for 2013, is still recovering from the leg injury he sustained at Assen almost a month ago, and he’s trying his best in order to take part in his home Round.
Despite the thrilling finale in 2012, Melandri has fond memories of the last weekend out on the Leicestershire circuit, as the Italian managed to give BMW their maiden World Superbike win in race 1. Works BMW rider Chaz Davies seeks redemption at Donington Park, following two difficult rounds at both Assen and Monza.
Aprilia Racing Team duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty, who currently lie 1st and 2nd in Riders standings, have never scored a top-3 on the East-Midlands track. Laverty crashed in 2 out of his 4 WSBK races there, while Guintoli best result is a 5th place in last year’s race 2.
Tom Sykes’ (Kawasaki Racing Team) best result dates back to 2008, when he raced as a wildcard from BSB and finished with a sensational 2nd place in the aggregate race 1 results, behind Troy Bayliss. Team mate Loris Baz made his debut in WSBK last year at Donington, as substitute for the unfortunate Joan Lascorz. FIXI Crescent Suzuki Leon Camier scored his only WSBK podium finish at the British venue in 2011 (3rd place, race 2), but won race 1 two years before, in his winning British Superbike season.
Team Ducati Alstare welcomes Niccolò Canepa for a one-event participation. The current Superstock 1000 rider will join full-time riders Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini after testing with fellow Italian last week at Mugello. 2011 WSBK Champion Checa is still recovering from an osseus edema in his left shoulder that ruled him out the Monza round.
Standings – provisional*: 1. Guintoli 137; 2. Laverty 124; 3. Sykes 119; 4. Melandri 96; 5. Davies 94; 6. Baz 75; 7. Fabrizio 74; 8. Rea 71; 9. Giugliano 49; 10. Camier 46; 11. Cluzel 41; 12. Neukirchner 39; 13. Badovini 32; 14. Checa 29; 15. Haslam 29; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 172; 2. BMW 144; 3. Kawasaki 130; 4. Honda 78; 5. Suzuki 68; 6. Ducati 52.
* Possible updated results could be defined by the International Disciplinary Court which is dealing with the appeal lodged by Aprilia Racing Team and rider Sylvain Guintoli, following the decision taken by the FIM Stewards in Monza (Italian Round, last 12 May) to cancel the drop of position sanction (from third to fourth place in race 2) imposed by the Race Direction on rider Tom Sykes.
Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) approaches his home Round as new Championship leader, following his 2nd race win of the season at Monza and a turnaround of events that saw Kenan Sofuoglu’s crash on lap 4 and the withdrawal by Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) from the final restart – as both were involved in the multiple crash that led to the third red flag in an hectic day for Supersport riders.
The English venue is a special place for the 22 year old, who scored his maiden Supersport race win last year on this very track - ahead of Sofuoglu – and has recently moved to Derby, 20km far from the circuit.
While Foret was diagnosed with no major injuries after a hospital check-up, van der Mark sustained multiple fractures in his left foot and he is currently recovering in the UK, together with Superbike team mate Leon Haslam. Both riders are set to tackle the Donington Park Round.
Injured David Salom’s place in the Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki Team will be taken once again by Frenchman Florian Marino, who battled for race victory at Monza up to the chequered flag and ended up with an outstanding 2nd place. Scotsman Kev Coghlan (DMC-Lorenzini Kawasaki) will aim for his first podium in the series after showing some good performance in the 5-way battle for rostrum positions in the last round.
Irishman Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) and Christian Iddon (ParkinGo MV Agusta Corse) are two riders to watch for the upcoming race, as both rookies know Donington Park like the back of their hand, having competed last year in the British Supersport Championship with strong results – 1st and 2nd place at Donington Park for Kennedy, 3rd for Iddon in race 2.
Standings: 1. Lowes 70; 2. Foret 54; 3. Vd Mark 49; 4. Sofuoglu 45; 5. Zanetti 40; 6. Scassa 34; 7. Marino 31; 8. Antonelli 29; 9. Russo 26; 10. Kennedy 24; 11. Coghlan 22; 12. Rolfo 22; 13. Leonov 21; 14. Marconi 16; 15. Roccoli 14. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 90; 2. Yamaha 78; 3. Honda 65; 4. MV Agusta 22; 5. Suzuki 8.