WSBK heads back to its roots this weekend at Donington

Round Nine – Donington Park

This weekend the Donington Park Circuit will host the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship for the 26th time in its history. A land of firsts, from Carl Fogarty’s maiden win in 1992 to Michael van der Mark’s double victory last season and, let’s not forget, the very first Motul FIM Superbike World Championship event in 1988, where Davide Tardozzi won the maiden Superbike race on a Bimota. Where it all began, and where it all begins again.

Because a couple of months ago the winner of the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship may have seemed a foregone conclusion, now we’re facing the closest title race in years, after the trials and tribulations of Álvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the Riviera di Rimini.

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun Bautista Rea
Jonathan Rea chasing Bautista at Misano

Sometimes the longest way around is the shortest way home. Since Phillip Island, Rea has jumped from second place to second place, keeping calm and steady, even when outpaced on a race-to-race basis. The head to head between him and Bautista reads 14-5 in the Spaniard’s favour, but that’s not what counts. Neither do massive winning margins, not even overall race wins (14-4 to Ducati). The one deciding factor is points and Rea is a meagre 16 behind, despite all the above.

Jonathan Rea

“After spending a week in Italy by the beach with my family I’m ready for the next race. Donington is the closest thing I get to a ‘home race’ and I’m excited to go there and get stuck in. It’s a great circuit with a little bit of everything, and the first sector is one of my favourites of the season. It’s always a compromise with set up as we try to maximise both stability in the hard braking areas while making the bike agile in the faster and more flowing sections. With the race taking place in the UK summer I expect the weather to be great. Of course the target is to keep working with my team and maximising our potential with the Ninja ZX-10RR.”

WSBK Aragon R Rea
Bautista cleared out and left the rest of the field to battle for the podium positions at the Aragon season opener. But Jonny Rea and KRT have knuckled down and are now taking the fight up to the Spaniard

How did we get here? Bautista cited over-confidence, track conditions and the added weight of a full fuel tank as potential explanations for his Misano, Race 2 crash, but little did that matter the moment the V4 R surrendered beneath him on lap 2, just like it had two weeks before. All the momentum that Bautista had has been lost in two flashes of the eye. One more and the championship lead will be lost too.

WSBK Rnd Jerez Sun Alvaro Bautista UC
Alvaro Bautista – Jerez WorldSBK 2019

The gap could have been even shorter too, had it not been for van der Mark’s huge Jerez, Race 2 win; his first since that season-defining double in Donington last year. Unfortunately, the recovering Dutchman is in doubt to feature in this year’s Prosecco DOC UK Round but is still hoping to be fit enough to race. If he is not passed fit Tarran Mackenzie will ride the Pata Yamaha in his place.

Michael van der Mark

“I knew as soon as I’d had the surgery on the wrist that a return to racing at Donington Park was a possibility, so that’s what I’ve been working towards since. I haven’t lost any strength in the wrist, which was my main concern. The movement is still slightly restricted, but I’ve been having physiotherapy since Misano to improve this. It has hardly impacted on my training and I’ve been able to train with the same intensity as I did before the injury, so I hope to be passed fit to ride this weekend. It’s good to have Tarran there on standby, as the medical assessment and actually racing the bike are two very different things. I will only really know if I’m fit to race, rather than just fit to ride, after FP1 on Friday.”

His team-mate Alex Lowes was desperately unfortunate not to deliver another win for the Japanese manufacturer under the deluge in Italy.

Alex Lowes

“I’m excited about racing in front of my home fans at Donington Park this weekend. I only get one chance to do this in a season and I’m really looking forward to it. The Donington Park track is so much fun to ride, especially the section that takes in Craner Curves and the Old Hairpin, which is easily my favourite part of the circuit. While most of the track is fast and flowing, the last sector is more stop start but always brings close racing. The target has to be to win in front of my home crowd, especially after coming so close last time out in Misano.”

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun Sykes Lowes
Alex Lowes chasing Tom Sykes at Misano

The Englishman, based just a few kilometres away from the Leicestershire track, will not be content with playing second fiddle to the championship frontrunners. Neither will Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), part of an ever-growing cast of threats to Rea and Bautista. He featured in an all-Kawasaki podium at Misano, but it was his performance in particular which caught the eye as Kenan Sofuoglu’s protégé sprang upon Rea in the last lap of Race 2.

WSBK Rnd Jerez Sun Razgatlioglu GB
Toprak Razgatlioglu – Jerez 2019

After that race, Razgatlioglu repeated the same words he expressed in Jerez a fortnight earlier: He wants a race win and Donington Park is the place to do it. The 22-year-old’s second place in Misano was certainly a revelation, as was his out-of-the-blue podium in the UK last season. Is a win a matter of when rather than if? Razgatlioglu would certainly hope so, but even amongst the Kawasaki ranks he will face absolutely ruthless competition, with Rea and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) – who has perhaps recorded more laps around Donington than any other rider in the world since debuting in the 125cc World Championship there back in 1998 – not willing to back down against the valiant sophomore.

Leon Haslam

“What can I say about Donington Park, my home round? Racing in front of my home crowd – you can’t really explain how good that is. Especially at Donington, which is just down the road from my house. We have made some good steps after the Jerez tests and we have just come off the back of two podiums at Misano, so it could not come along at a better time. Kawasaki has a good record there, and I think, fundamentally, we should be on a strong package. It is never easy, but I am looking forward to it and hopefully we can have a good weekend at home.”

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun Haslam Razgatlioglu
Toprak Razgatlioglu chasing Haslam at Misano

Razgatlioglu could do worse than follow the career path of Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who also took his first WorldSBK podium in a Race 2 at Donington Park – only in 2008, rather than 2018. As fate would have it, the Yorkshireman also made a huge breakthrough at Misano by handing BMW their best result in nearly six years, and just in time for his favourite race of the year. Those nine wins on the trot (Race 1, 2013 to Race 1, 2017) at Donington speak for themselves. It may still be early days for the new S 1000 RR, but in the UK it’s never wise to overlook the 2013 World Champion.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes invigorates his 2015 season by taking the Donington double and equalling the great Carl Fogarty’s record of six wins at the English circuit
Tom Sykes took the Donington double in 2015 and the following year surpassed Carl Fogarty to chalk up the most wins of any rider in WSBK at Donington

While we’re on the topic of hopeful race winners, what about the first man to hit gold for BMW way back in 2012? That was Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and the circuit, of course, was none other than Donington Park, where his teammate Sandro Cortese last won in the World Supersport class, just last year.

Marco Melandri

“I’m looking forward to Donington Park, after what was for me a good weekend last time out in Misano. Donington is a track I like and one that suits my riding style. Judging from Michael van der Mark’s double win there last season, it’s also a track at which the Yamaha works very well indeed. I need to work on qualifying, to improve my position on the grid for the races, but I think we have the potential to really make a good race this weekend. The weather is looking good, which I’m happy about, and now I can’t wait to get started.”

WSBK Marc Melandri ThibouImage
Marco Melandri on a BMW in 2012 – Image by Steve Thibou

Leon Camier will sit out both his home round and the subsequent US round at Laguna Seca despite having continued to make good progress with his recovery in recent weeks.

Camier’s comeback is essentially delayed by a lack of strength in his left shoulder, something the Brit saw for himself when he tested with a Supermoto in Andorra to assess his physical condition when riding.

In agreement with the team, he will therefore sit out the back-to-back rounds, with the aim of returning for the Portimao (Portugal) testing session, set to take place on 24-25 August. Leon will not be replaced at the British and American events.

Leon Camier

“I’m really disappointed to have to miss two more rounds, despite having definitely made good progress, which my doctor is actually really happy with. I’ve now recovered full range of motion and have started to do strength exercises already. Unfortunately, this is where I’m still having some problems. I attempted to complete a few laps on a Supermoto but can see that I still don’t have enough strength or stability when braking, as well as still experiencing noticeable pain when doing so. As I said, it’s very frustrating, but at least the doctor is confident I will fully recover with no need for surgery. I look forward to being back for the Portimao test in August where we can take time to calmly work on bike development and set-up”.

Seven rounds down, six left, read it as zero hour or square one; either way, the UK Round promises to be anything but unremarkable.

WSBK Championship Standings

Pos Rider Points
1  Alvaro Bautista  330
2  Jonathan Rea  314
3  Michael Van Der Mark  188
4  Alex Lowes  164
5  Leon Haslam  153
6  Toprak Razgatlioglu  121
7  Marco Melandri  116
8  Chaz Davies  114
9  Tom Sykes  110
10  Sandro Cortese  93
11  Michael Ruben Rinaldi  77
12  Jordi Torres  75
13  Markus Reiterberger  56
14  Eugene Laverty  32
15  Loris Baz  28
16  Leon Camier  26
17  Leandro Mercado  26
18  Lorenzo Zanetti  21
19  Ryuichi Kiyonari  14
20  Thomas Bridewell  12
21  Yuki Takahashi  11
22  Michele Pirro  10
23  Alessandro Delbianco  10
24  Samuele Cavalieri  6
25  Hector Barbera  3

World Supersport

The 2019 WorldSSP season is proving to be one of the most intense in recent years, with Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team riders Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo literally going head-to-head for World Supersport supremacy. The championship lead at 22 points and other riders set to interfere, the final round at Donington Park before a lengthy Summer break will be pivotal in who carries confidence forward.

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Start
World Supersport – Misano 2019

29-year-old Randy Krummenacher hasn’t put a foot wrong so far in 2019, as he continues to rack up big points. The Swiss rider has finished first or second in every WorldSSP race this season, with one of his best wins coming at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” last time out. Barging his way to victory with just two corners remaining, the WorldSSP title pendulum swung in favour of Krummenacher, but now he heads to a circuit of which he has just one podium at – back in 2016. Can he remount the rostrum in 2019?

Chasing his teammate as hard as possible, Federico Caricasulo came close to reducing the points gap at the top to just 12 points at Misano but was beaten in the dying moments of the WorldSSP encounter. Now, he turns his attention to Donington Park – a track at which the Italian has yet to feature highly at, with a best result of sixth coming in 2018, whilst he suffered a DNF in 2017. Caricasulo must take points away from Krummenacher, to go into the mid-season break with the momentum.

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Sunday Race Podium
World Supersport – Misano 2019

With another race passing without a win, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) has seen his championship hopes decrease a little bit more, as the Frenchman has struggled to keep on the pace of Krummenacher and Caricasulo. Scheduled to make his 77th WorldSSP start, the 30-year-old has a stunning record at Donington Park despite having never won, with three second-place finishes and two third-places to his name. Just five races remain and Cluzel will be eager for a first Donington Park win to shrink the points gap to the top from 53 points.

It was another impressive performance by Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) at Misano, with the Japanese star taking fifth – his second-best result of the season. Okubo has finished every single race in 2019 and will look to see the streak carry on in the United Kingdom. Donington Park has yielded just one top ten for the 25-year-old, with ninth in 2017. The last Japanese WorldSSP podium came on British soil at Silverstone in 2007 with Katsuaki Fujiwara. Can Okubo end the 12-year wait for another Japanese rostrum?

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Sunday Race Action Mahias
World Supersport – Misano 2019

Okubo isn’t the only Kawasaki who has shone in recent events, as Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) has been a strong contender for the leading positions. The Frenchman gave the manufacturer their first pole since 2017 at Misano before achieving his first podium of the season. Mahias’ form at Donington Park is mixed, with a fifth last season but a second in 2017. He will be hoping for a second consecutive podium of the season at the famed British venue.

Completing the top half-dozen in the championship is Austria’s Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing). It was a difficult Misano for Gradinger – who has been a revelation in 2019. Having only qualified in 12th, he salvaged a ninth-place finish; his worst finish in a race since he was 12th at Imola last year. Achieving an eighth place at Donington Park, the 22-year-old will be eager to return to the podium in WorldSSP and close the gap on those ahead of him.

There’s an array of other riders to keep an eye out for, with Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) eager to make up for his Misano mistake. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) showed more promise in Misano until a crash ended his race prematurely, whilst Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) aims to repeat his top seven finish for a second consecutive race, not to mention wildcards from British Supersport; Jack Kennedy and Brad Jones, on their Appleyard Macadam Integro Yamahas.

WorldSSP600 Championship Standings

Pos Rider Points
1 Randy Krummenacher 160
2 Federico Caricasulo 138
3 Jules Cluzel 107
4 Hikari Okubo 70
5 Lucas Mahias 66
6 Thomas Gradinger 60
7 Raffaele De Rosa 58
8 Isaac Vinales 45
9 Corentin Perolari 41
10 Peter Sebestyen 33
11 Loris Cresson 29
12 Hannes Soomer 27
13 Jules Danilo 27
14 Hector Barbera 22
15 Ayrton Badovini 20
16 Federico Fuligni 11
17 Lorenzo Gabellini 10
18 Kyle Smith 10
19 Glenn Van Straalen 9
20 Kevin Manfredi 8
21 Massimo Roccoli 6
22 Jaimie Van Sikkelerus 6
23 Tom Toparis 5
24 Rob Hartog 5
25 Maria Herrera 5
26 Luca Ottaviani 4
27 Mattia Casadei 1

World Supersport 300

2019 is proving to be a vintage year for the WorldSSP300 championship, as new faces go in pursuit of the old guard. With the championship going to the United Kingdom for the next battleground, it promises to be an exciting spectacle, but who will come out on top this time around?

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Gonzalez Carrasco
World Supersport 300 – Misano 2019 – Gonzalez leads Carrasco

A 43-point lead sets aside Manuel Gonzalez from the rest of the WorldSSP300 grid, as the 16-year-old Spanish rider continues to set the world on fire. Having not claimed a win at Misano, it was the first round he had failed to stand on the top step of the podium. The opposition are starting to show their true colours as the season moves on, making Donington Park is crucial for the championship leader, who was only 12th at the circuit last year.

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Carrasco
World Supersport 300 – Misano 2019 – Ana Carrasco

Second in the championship belongs to the reigning champion, Ana Carrasco. A superb win in sunny conditions on Sunday saw the Spaniard conquer the opposition for her fourth career victory. Now, the title race goes to the Donington Park, a track at which Carrasco was a winner at in 2018 with a huge 4.6s gap. With her first win of the 2019 season under her belt, has that opened the floodgates for more success to come before the Summer break?

WSBK Rnd Misano Sun WorldSSP Deroue
World Supersport 300 – Misano 2019 – Scott Deroue

Joint-second in the championship but third overall by virtue of no wins in 2019, Dutchman Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) endured a torrid time at Misano. With just nine points from the last two races, the championship gap has opened massively. Deroue took a podium at Donington Park back in 2017 when he was third, whilst he was only able to finish sixth in 2018. A first win this season must come soon if he is to have any hope of an elusive first crown.

Marc Garcia’s (DS Junior Team) form in recent rounds has picked up and the 2017 WorldSSP champion is back in the leading group. Despite not scoring at Misano, the 19-year-old Spanish rider sits on 50 points, although some 58 behind fellow countryman Gonzalez at the top of the championship tree. Garcia has second in 2017 at the circuit, with just 0.067s separating him and race winner, Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing). Will Garcia go one better in 2019?

German rider Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) sits in fifth place in the championship, as his consistency in 2019 had seen him finish in the top seven at every round until his crash in Misano. 60 points back of the championship lead may seem like a fair way, but he is only 17 points behind second place. A seventh last year at Donington Park makes him one to watch in 2019.

Behind the leading quintet, keep an eye on French duo Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) and Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing). They are firmly in the battle for race wins and for top positions in the championship. Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) is still eager for his first podium of the season after being cruelly denied again in Misano, whilst Omar Bonoli (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) will hope to be back at the sharp end.

There are wildcards to keep an eye on too, so be sure not to miss any WorldSSP300 drama!

WorldSSP300 Championship Standings

Pos Rider Points
1 Manuel Gonzalez 108
2 Ana Carrasco 65
3 Scott Deroue 65
4 Marc Garcia 50
5 Jan-Ole Jahnig 48
6 Hugo De Cancellis 47
7 Andy Verdoïa 45
8 Victor Steeman 42
9 Galang Hendra Pratama 36
10 Omar Bonoli 24
11 Bruno Ieracii 21
12 Nick Kalinin 15
13 Manuel Bastianelli 14
14 Jeffrey Buis 13
15 Maximilian Kappler 12
16 Emanuele Vocino 10
17 Mika Perez 10
18 Robert Schotman 9
19 Tom Edwards 8
20 Enzo De La Vega 8
21 Kevin Sabatucci 7
22 Koen Meuffels 7
23 Mateo Pedeneau 7
24 Ferran Hernandez Moyano 6
25 Unai Orradre 6
26 Dorren Loureiro 4
27 Samuel Di Sora 3
28 Beatriz Neila 3
29 Filippo Rovelli 3
30 Borja Sanchez 2
31 Francisco Gomez 2


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