WorldSBK: Championship Heading To Donington Park

WorldSBK: Championship Heading To Donington Park

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna WorldSBK Press Office:

Donington Park welcomes next chapter of drama in 2022 WorldSBK title race

The historic home of WorldSBK and unequivocally home to some of the Championship’s greatest sporting moments, more emotions lie ahead this weekend

Back to where it all began, where on a cold Sunday in 1988, the Championship was born. The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has arrived at Donington Park for Round 5 of the season and the Prosecco DOC UK Round. The 35th season of World Superbike action is proving to be one of the best yet and with a three-way fight for the title clear, other stars aim to have a say at a round that brings seen shocks and surprises. Could this be one of the key turning points in 2022, or will we see the usual suspects continue to knock spots off each other?

TITANIC TRIO: is this the place Bautista is caught?

12 podiums from 12 races in 2022 and leading the Championship by 36 points, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) has undertaken a more measured approach in 2022 in comparison to 2019 and it seems to be working. The Spaniard has won six races and is the only rider in the Championship to have finished on the podium in every race he’s finished. However, Donington Park has been far from a happy hunting ground for Ducati in recent years; no win since 2011 and the Ducati Panigale V4 R has only had one third place – courtesy of Bautista in 2019’s Race 2. No top two finish since 2016, will Bautista change all of that? Teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi had a successful test at Misano during the break and will look to back-up his findings and step back on the podium, whilst Ducati chase their 1000th podium place in WorldSBK; they currently have 998.

Chasing down Bautista and heading home to rule the roost, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will be keen to continue his success at Donington Park. A sole win last year and a triple in 2019, Rea’s got amazing form at Donington Park. He’s been testing for the Suzuka 8 Hour race during the gap since Misano and will hope that he can hit the ground running at a circuit at which he crashed at in 2021’s Race 2, relinquishing the Championship lead. This time, he’s chasing it from Bautista at a circuit where Rea certainly seems to have the upper hand. On the other side of the garage, Alex Lowes hopes to dazzle at home after a podium in Race 1 in 2021; Kawasaki as a manufacturer are one podium place away from 500 in WorldSBK – will they manage it?

Looking to build on a first victory from the last round at Misano, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) hopes that Donington Park lives up to be the happy hunting ground of years gone by. Along with San Juan, Donington Park is one of just two circuits where Razgatlioglu has taken a podium at least once every year he’s raced there. In 2018, he took a first rostrum whilst in 2019, he battled for victory in Race 2 with Jonathan Rea. However, the Turk’s opening lap of Race 1 in 2021 will go down as one of WorldSBK’s finest moments as he cruised to two wins and the Championship lead. Does more success await? Teammate Andrea Locatelli will aim to consolidate his top five placing with a strong ride this weekend, where he had a best of ninth in the Superpole Race.

HONDA AND BMW: have Donington Park tests put them in contention?

In what has been a very strong opening four rounds of the Championship, a challenge lies ahead for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). The Spanish rookie has never raced at Donington Park and only completed a track day at the circuit prior to the round. One of just two riders to finish every race – the other being compatriot Bautista – Lecuona is nine points from Locatelli in the battle for fourth. Honda only have one round of experience with their current bike at Donington Park, with a best of fourth with Leon Haslam in the Superpole Race last year, but they’ll hope a pre-round test at Misano can give them a boost going to the UK. Hoping to be fighting fit, Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) will have to get his head around the quirky circuit layout during the round.

Likewise in a track day at Donington Park in between rounds, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and Scott Redding. One of Redding’s career highlights came at the British circuit, when in 2008, he became the then-youngest Grand Prix winner in the 125cc World Championship Grand Prix, aged just 15. Since then, wins in BSB but no podiums in WorldSBK have come at the circuit, with a best of fourth in Race 2 last year. Illia Mykhalchyk (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) will once again be present in the place of double Donington Park winner Michael van der Mark who is still recovering from injury; he’s scored points in WorldSSP and STK1000 at Donington Park before.

INDEPENDENT BATTLE: Bassani continues to shine as wildcards aim to surprise

The Independent battle is led by Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who returns to Donington Park, historically a tricky circuit for him, despite being top Ducati in Race 1 last year. Eighth overall and just seven points behind Alex Lowes, he’s 23 ahead of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), who aims to return to the top six at a track he knows well, having fought for victory in 2014. 11 points further back of Baz is Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who returns to the circuit at which he got his last podium at 12 months ago, when he was second in Race 2. Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) will race at Donington Park for the first time, whilst Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) has a podium to his name at the track; both complete the top five in the Independent standings.

Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) is next up in 15th place overall, with the Italian just marginally ahead of Sammarinese rider Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team), who’s made steps of late. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will hope to be passed fit after being ruled out of Misano, whilst Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) makes a racing debut at the track as he missed out through injury in 2021. Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha), like Mahias, hopes to be fit after being ruled out in Italy, whilst the target for MIE Racing Honda Team duo Leandro Mercado and Hafizh Syahrin is points. Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) is another rider hoping to be passed fit, whilst home-hero Leon Haslam returns with the TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki outfit. Two wildcards to keep an eye on: the long-awaited debut of Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) and the return of Peter Hickman (FHO Racing) on a BMW M1000RR.

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