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Mar 21, 2011

Leon Haslam On Donington Park: I Know This Circuit Like The Back Of My Hand

Munich/Stephanskirchen, 21st March 2011. Following a successful start to the season on Phillip Island (AUS), the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team now heads to Britain for the second round of the 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship. Donington is the venue for the first European races of the season from 25th to 27th March. The iconic "Donington Park Circuit" is located about 60 kilometres north of Birmingham in the county of Leicestershire.

The BMW Motorrad Motorsport team was able to celebrate its first podium finish of the season at the curtain-raiser in Australia, in the form of works rider Leon Haslam (GBR). The new member of the team finished third in his first race on the BMW S 1000 RR. The team in Stephanskirchen and Munich have used the break since the first race weekend to perform an intense analysis of the data acquired in Australia, in order to further optimise the bikes of Leon and his team-mate Troy Corser (AUS). Leon is currently lying in fourth place on 27 points in this season's Riders' Championship, while Troy is in 14th place with six points. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW lies in fourth place on 27 points.

Both BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders have a close personal connection to Donington. This is Leon's home track. He lives nearby and his father Ron Haslam runs a racing school at the circuit. Troy met his wife Sam in Donington.


Leon Haslam:
"Racing in England any time of the year is a great occasion for both the British fans and myself, so for sure I can't wait to be back at Donington. The weather conditions in the UK are not always in our favour but the track is only 20 minutes from my house and I have a lot of support in that area.

This track requires extremely hard braking. Actually, when it comes to braking, Donington is one of a kind. I have completed countless laps there in the past including on production bikes. I know this circuit like the back of my hand so I really am looking forward it and I hope we can make that next step forward with the bike and continue to push at the front."


Troy Corser:
"I am really looking forward to Donington Park. Like Phillip Island, it's another track which I enjoy racing at and normally perform well at so we'll have to wait and see what happens. We've identified a few issues from Phillip Island that we need to address before Donington, but otherwise I am confident we can make that next step further and be competitive.

The layout of the circuit is great really fast and flowing especially through Craner Curves. I am just looking forward to racing there again and seeing how we perform."


Bernhard Gobmeier, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
"After returning from the successful start to the season in Australia, we have worked very hard in Munich and Stephanskirchen in order to prepare for the European season, which gets underway with the races in Donington. It goes without saying that we not only want to kick on from the good results achieved in the first races, but want to do even better. Our goal is to regularly be stood on the podium and to be capable of winning under our own steam.

In Australia, we determined some areas on the BMW S 1000 RR that we must improve. We have worked very hard during the break, and are confident that we can iron out the existing problems and take the next step forward. We will certainly travel to England full of optimism. I am already looking forward to watching Leon and Troy attack on a circuit that means so much to the two of them."


Background:
The "Donington Park Circuit" is a permanent fixture on the race calendar for the FIM Superbike World Championship. The series has been coming to the iconic circuit in the heart of England since 1988. The racetrack was opened in 1931 and has been modified on numerous occasions since. The diggers also moved into Donington in 2010, which is why it did not host the Superbike World Championship for a change. This year, however, the World Championship returns to Leicestershire, with races 37 and 38 of the series scheduled for "Donington Park Circuit".

Few riders are as familiar with the track as BMW works rider Leon Haslam, who grew up there and still lives close to the circuit. Team-mate Troy Corser also feels at home in Donington. The Australian already has already picked up two victories there.

Donington is actually a flowing circuit, but it does have some "stop-and-go" sections that require the riders to brake hard. This plays an important role in the set-up of the bikes. One particularly tricky left-hander is the fast "Craner Curves" section, in which the bike must remain stable. In general, the riders can expect a technically demanding mixture of fast corners alternating with slower sectors. These include the "Melbourne Hairpin", a tight chicane taken in first gear, and the left-hander "Goddards".

Another important factor to take into consideration is the weather. As this year's Superbike World Championship arrives in Donington at the end of March, cool temperatures and possible rain could provide an additional challenge.