Donington Park another ‘home' race for Pata Honda
The Pata Honda team will re-assemble in the United Kingdom this weekend (23-25 May) for round five of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at the Donington Park circuit to the north-east of Birmingham.
After a home round for the team at Assen in the Netherlands last month, title partners Pata enjoyed their own home event at Imola’s fourth round in Italy last time out. Now it’s the turn of Honda Motor Europe – based at Langley near London – to enjoy its own home round, along with the team’s British riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, who lives just 30 minutes drive to the north of the historic 4.023km Donington Park circuit.
Haslam has enjoyed two World Superbike podiums in recent years at Donington including a second place in 2009 during an earlier spell on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade. The Derbyshire rider will be more determined than ever to provide those kind results that have so far eluded him since his return to Honda in 2013.
Despite valiant efforts to the contrary in practice sessions, 30-year-old Haslam was unable to race at Donington Park last season after breaking his left leg in a practice crash at Assen just four weeks earlier.
Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea, meanwhile, will be seeking to extend his stunning run of recent form which has seen the 27-year-old British rider take his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to podium finishes in five of the last six races, including victories in the last three with a dominant double in the last round at Imola.
That run of results has given Rea a four-point lead at the top of the championship table, but the Northern Irishman has been on the Donington podium just once in his World Superbike career. That was a visit to the top step following his victory in race two in 2012.
The Donington Park event will feature a revised schedule compared to recent European World Superbike rounds, the full timetable running as follows:
Donington Park World Superbike schedule (local times):
Friday 23 May
10.00-10.45 Free Practice 1
13.45-14.30 Free Practice 2
16.30-17.15 Free Practice 3
(all timed for Superpole)
Saturday 24 May
09.30-10.00 Free Practice 4
(not timed for Superpole)
12.00-12.15 Superpole 1
12.25-12.40 Superpole 2
Sunday 25 May
12.00 Race 1 (23 laps, 92.529km)
15.00 Race 2 (23 laps, 92.529km)
It feels awesome coming to my home race leading the championship! It won’t change my approach at all but it’s a great feeling to know that we’ve developed the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to the point where we’re getting on the podium regularly and challenging for victory. I love riding at Donington in front of the true British fans and I had my first road-racing experience there on a Honda CB500. No-one hides the fact that the first part of the circuit makes it one of the best in the world. The last part is a bit of a bus-stop and it means you have to compromise to get a good setting for high-speed changes of direction and stability under braking. Our data from last year showed that the settings at Imola and Donington were quite similar, so we’ll start the weekend with something like what we finished with at Imola. And that wasn’t too bad!
Of course I’m really looking forward to racing at Donington, which is my home circuit. With the Honda Race School, I’ve done quite a lot of laps there and I know my way round quite well, but I haven’t had too much racing success there. My first world championship race there was on my HM Plant Honda British Superbike CBR as a wildcard, but I got wiped out in both races while battling at the front. I had a good podium with Honda in 2009 and then again in race one in 2012 but I missed last year’s races, which was a shame. We definitely made some steps forward with the CBR after the first round in Australia this year but I don’t think we have been able to get the best out of it in the last couple of rounds. However, the bike is clearly capable of winning and challenging for podiums so I’ll be doing my best to get the most out of it at my home round for sure.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Taking Jonathan’s form and the CBR to Donington Park is certainly an exciting prospect and I hope he can go for more podium results. Imola was great, but we know that not every weekend can be like that and sometimes it’s better to take what points are available to keep the ball rolling. I think Leon should be able to fight back near the top this weekend, too, if everything falls into place for him. He’s feeling positive and he knows how hard the team is working to get things right for him.