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May 21, 2013

World Superbike Organizers: Haslam Will Try To Ride At Donington Park

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Leon Haslam (91).
WSBK riders set for another epic battle at Donington Park

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.


World Supersport

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.




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

FIM SUPERBIKE / SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 05 SUNDAY MAY 26 DONINGTON PARK, GREAT BRITAIN PREVIEW

HOME RACE FOR REA AND HASLAM AT POPULAR DONINGTON PARK

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) has more than just a home race to look forward to at the fifth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Donington Park on Sunday May 26. Given the many recent advances he and his team have found in the race specification and performance of his CBR1000RR he is also out to replicate the kind of form that put him on the first race podium at the Assen round in late April.

Improvements to his race package should allow him to make a real difference at Donington, which was the most recent venue Jonathan has scored a full race victory at, around this time last year. Having taken part in a bicycle race in the UK shortly after the previous Monza round Rea is at the peak of his powers again and ready to try to score his first win of 2013.

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) is almost literally at home when he goes to Donington but currently he is in a battle to be fully fit after breaking his left leg at Assen. His recovery process is going well but he will have to wait until given the medical all clear before he can make a start at the fifth round of the year.

The complete Donington circuit may be formed of two truly contrasting sections but it is a perennial favourite with most competitors who get to ride a high-speed rollercoaster of asphalt down Craner Curves before making their gradual climb uphill to McLeans Corner and Coppice before rushing downhill again to the Melbourne Loop section.
This final part of the 4.023km track comprises a slow chicane, then two tight hairpins onto the start/finish straight, and provides some of the hardest braking points of the year.

In the championship standings Jonathan is currently eighth, but only four points from a top six ranking after four rounds. Leon, who has had to miss the Assen and Monza races altogether, is 15th.

After Donington Park the championship trail heads south once more, to the modern classic circuit of Portimao in Portugal for the sixth round on June 9th.


VAN DER MARK JOINS HASLAM IN A RACE TO BE FIT

In a determined attempt to be fit to race at the fifth round of the FIM Supersport World championship at Donington Park this weekend Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) has joined his Superbike colleague Leon Haslam in the UK for a period of intense preparation and healing.

Currently third in the overall rankings after breaking four bones in his left foot during the previous Monza round, Van der Mark is determined to get back into action at Donington to help his overall championship challenge continue at the same high level he has reached since starting his rookie WSS season.

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) is a fighting fifth in the Championship after securing his first WSS podium at the previous round at Monza in his native Italy. He enters the Donington Park event, titled the European round of the championship, secure in the knowledge that more podiums are possible. Lorenzo is 30 points from the lead of the championship after five rounds, with ten rounds of the championship still to run, including Donington.

After a great start to his rookie season Irish rider Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) dropped to tenth in the championship after his Monza no score. Now approaching a circuit he has raced at regularly during his recent British Championship experiences he should start the weekend at no real disadvantage to most of his more experienced WSS rivals for the first time in 2013.

Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) is looking for any finish better than tenth in the Donington race to beat his 2013 best so far, as he sits 14th in the rankings after four rounds. His PTR Honda team is taking part in its home round in England this weekend and Luca wants to make a good showing for them, and to start moving up the championship table in his own right.

After a very tough start to the season delivered Sheridan Morais no points in the opening three races the gritty South African rider showed his true self at Monza by finishing sixth despite carrying a right shoulder injury. The lingering effects of that may still be evident but he has healed considerably since the last round.

David Linortner (Team Honda PTR) moved up to 23rd after scoring two points at Monza. Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda) sits in 25th place.

Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) will be looking to a track he knows well from his long experience of racing in the smaller GP classes to kick start his season after four races with no points. He was tenth at Donington for his current PRORACE team last season, shortly after joining the WSS class for the first time. He has upped his own level of preparation even more for the challenges ahead by racing in a national event at his own home track in Hungary.

The usual host of regular Honda riders will be out to make their first big impression of the season once again, including Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda), Eduard Blokhin (Rivamoto Honda), Nacho Calero Perez (Honda PTR) and his fellow rookie Matt Davies (Team Honda PTR).

The sixth round of a 14 round championship will take place at another regular SBK venue, Portimao in Portugal, on June 9th.


HONDA RIDER COMMENTS:

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) "I think Donington could be a very strong track for us. Monza was going to be one of our weaker circuits but we were still there or
there about. With no long straights at Donington I am quite
optimistic about our chances. I like the track and it is good to be back in the UK to go racing. Given the championship situation points are not at the forefront of our minds so now we have to get some solid race weekends under our belt. It would be great to get a double podium finish this weekend, or even something better. Our package is pretty well rounded so we can go to any track now, keep our heads high and hope for the best possible results. I think Donington will give us a much more comfortable weekend than having to do two races at Monza."

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) "I had a successful operation after Monza and my aim is to race at Donington, my home event. I am struggling with knee movement but I have a few more days of working on that. I know Donington well and from Assen onwards the team have made big steps with the bike. Jonathan has been speaking about how much better it is, so I am keen to get back on it. I had never missed an SBK race before in my life. I have had two broken legs, a collarbone, broken ankles in previous seasons and still been able to race, so it has been tough to take not racing in the past two rounds. If I can race I am definitely going to give it a go. From a positive side I will not have to learn Donington, there are not too many left-handers, which is going to be the issue with my knee. The biggest factors will be bending my knee
enough and changing gears."

Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) "As always I am looking forward to the weekend but it will be a
little bit difficult maybe this time. That is partly to do with the fact that I have never ridden at Donington Park before and also because I have a foot injury. It is getting better every day and we have made faster progress than we first expected. It will be a bit painful this weekend but we are riding for sure!"

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) "Taking a podium at Monza was fantastic at my home race but it was a strange day with crashes all around and two crashes for me before the final race start. I have some problems with my back and my right hand because of this. Nothing is broken but it is quite painful. I like Donington. It's not a fast track but a good one and a very different one from Monza. I want to try to push a lot at Donington, the same as in Monza, and fight for the top five places."

Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) "We will have a lot of people there and I suppose you could call it my home race. A lot of friends, family and sponsors will be coming so we will have to put on a good show won't we? The weather does not look on our side through. Donington will be different because I know I should be quick in the first sessions, no matter what the conditions are, because I know the track so well. That is obviously a big confidence-booster as well because when you come towards the second qualifying session in 20th position or whatever at a new track you have a big gap to close and lots still to learn. I am hoping to be up inside the top five in every session at Donington. I'm looking forward to riding my Rivamoto Honda there as this time around we have a lot of knowledge of that track layout. This season is a learning process for me, especially with the electronics and the longer races that I am not so used to doing, but we are getting better at it every round."

Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) "I am not sure how the weather is going to be in England but I hope it is not raining. I like the track and I want to make a good result for the team, as it is their home race. I will try my best as always. Donington Park is very different from Monza and maybe the rider counts more than the bike. I like the flowing first part at Donington but I am not so keen on the very last part with the slow corners. It is difficult to pass other riders in most places on the first part so at least the last corners do give you some places to overtake."

Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) "Last year I was also injured for the Donington round, after a big crash at Monza, but this time around my shoulder has improved and I hope I can ride my bike to its full potential. Sixth at Monza as not so bad considering I was not really fully fit. I came back to South Africa for a short period of time after Monza and that is always a bit hectic, but it is always good for me and it gets me ready to go racing again."

Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) "I rode a stock 600 bike at a national race at the Hungaroring after Monza and I made my best lap time ever, so I think my form is good. I think the last three races we lost the race in the pit box more than with my performance so I will be recommending a new bike set-up and balance to my team. They are really looking to help me. At Donington I believe I can be where I have to be, even though I cannot say it is my favourite track because it is usually cold and raining! All the same, I feel confident going there."