The top World Superbike riders got together for a meet and greet with the media this morning at the Donington Park Grand Prix Collection museum in the build-up towards round 9 of the championship. Following the spectacular racing at Misano World Circuit just a few days ago, this weekend will surely see more of the same as the season moves into its second half. Anglo-American rivalry will be one of the key aspects of the weekend as this year’s top influx of British riders return to home ground, while the Ducati-Yamaha battle at the top becomes even more intense.
Britain’s Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who became the fourth winner this year at Misano, started the ball rolling: “It was nice for me and the whole team to win at Misano because they’ve been working so hard since the start of the year. For me to be the guy who gets the team’s first win of the year is really surreal because Carlos and Kiyo are such accomplished riders and it’s really set me up with some momentum for my home race here”.
Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who leads the table on 292 points, has been coming to Donington since 1998, when he picked up a double win: “I remember coming here many years ago and winning both races against Corser and Fogarty, which was a great satisfaction for me. I actually like this track and always find strange conditions here, but I hope this weekend it will be sunshine and I have to try and win again. With Ducati I try to push hard and win the title this year”.
For Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike), the Donington circuit is a familiar track on this year’s calendar, as he did the MotoGP race last year: “We were here last year, so I know this one! This weekend’s important for us, it’s good with all the British guys in town. Right now for me, we need a good result, it could backfire but we’re going to give it everything, hopefully we’ll get some good weather and some good racing. My team-mate Tom knows the circuit well, so I’m going to be latching on to him in the first session!”.
Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati) finally scored his first podium of the year last week with a second place in race 1, and could even have come away with a sensational win: “It wasn’t for lack of trying!” said Shakey. “It was a good race and nice to have a bit of success. Since the winter test, things have been very difficult but it was a good time to get back to form with Donington coming up this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it”.
Derby-born Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda) had an excellent start to the season with a brace of podiums, but has found it difficult to keep the momentum flowing in recent races: “The last four rounds have been pretty tough because the last four circuits I’ve not been to but Phillip Island and Assen, which I do know, have produced good results so I’m going to try and get back on the podium this weekend at my home round. The effort that the team is putting in is second to none, it’s fantastic, but it gets a bit frustrating sometimes because we know we can finish on the podium at every race”.
About Donington Park
The Donington Park circuit is situated near Castle Donington and is one of Britain’s most famous and most popular venues. The original track was opened in 1931 and initially used for motorcycle races, but was then closed in 1939 due to World War 2. In the early 1970s the circuit was bought by Tom Wheatcroft, who funded the rebuilding of the circuit, which was re-opened in 1977. The Melbourne Loop was built in 1985 to increase the lap distance to 2.5 miles (4.02 km) and allow the track to host Grand Prix motorcycle races. In recent times Donington has held World Superbike, MotoGP, British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes, as well as the 1993 F1 European Grand Prix.
Lap records: Race – Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1’31.575 (2007); Best lap – Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1’30.370 (2007).
The UK Round of the HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship takes place from Friday 26th through Sunday 28th June. The action starts with free practice and qualifying the first two days, followed by WSBK Superpole on Saturday at 15.00. The two 23-lap (92.529 km) Superbike races are scheduled to run on Sunday at 12.00 and 15.30, with the 22-lap (88.506 km) Supersport race at 13.25 local time.