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Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Donington, Great Britain
Posted by: newsla on May 20, 2014 - 05:02 PM
Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Donington, Great Britain

British riders Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and his team-mate Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) head to the Donington Park round of the FIM Superbike World Championship buoyed by the fact that it is a home round for each of them.


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As there is no Silverstone event on the 2014 SBK calendar the Donington weekend will be the only chance for the Pata Honda riders to shine in front of a home crowd and each of them is determined to make the most of the opportunity, particularly after recent upward trends in their on track fortunes.

Rea, born and bred in Northern Ireland, approaches Donington as the leader of the championship after winning the last three races in succession. His career race victory tally rose to 14 after his most recent double win at Imola in early May and as a result Rea takes a four-point championship lead into Donington on a wave of positivity. Jonathan is already a proven winner at Donington, taking the second race in 2012 for Honda.

In a one-day post-Imola official test session Rea continued his good form by topping the testing lap times while evaluating new components and electronic advances as part of the development programme of the SBK-specification CBR1000RR Fireblade.

Haslam, himself a three-time WSBK race winner in the past, has been on a long road to recover his best possible form after suffering a serious left leg fracture more than a year ago at Assen. That injury ultimately prevented him from racing at Donington last year, a fact that is not lost on Haslam as he now has even more determination to show well in his forthcoming visit to his home track.

The name of Haslam is legendary at Donington, firstly because of a local racing dynasty that included Leon's father Ron and more recently because of the racing exploits of Leon himself.

Making progress in recent races, and particularly at the Imola official tests, Haslam could have no better venue than Donington Park to continue his push towards his first podium finish of 2014. So far Leon's best result is fifth place at Assen and when added to his other results he currently sits ninth in the championship, with the vast majority of the season still ahead of him.

The Donington Park circuit can trace its history right back to the early years of motorsport but in its modern format it has hosted 42 previous individual Superbike World Championship races, including the first ever WSBK championship event in 1988. Very few WSBK venues have hosted more rounds than Donington Park and few offer better vantage points for spectators.

The main section of the 4.023km track is formed inside a natural amphitheatre that provides many fast and flowing curves, which start off heading downhill, then climb back to the final sector. By contrast this final loop consists of a chicane, two short straights and two tight hairpins. This unusual track layout means finding an absolutely ideal set-up is difficult for all riders and teams.

Six individual Honda riders have won a total of seven previous Donington races, on machinery ranging from vee-four 750s, through 1000cc vee-twins to different versions of the CBR1000RR Fireblade.

After Donington the championship heads off for its second long haul event of a busy season, to the all-new WSBK venue of Sepang in Malaysia, with raceday arriving on Sunday 8 June.


The FIM Supersport World Championship arrives at Donington Park this coming weekend with Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) at the top of the championship standings with Pata Honda team-mate, Lorenzo Zanetti, in third place overall, 16 points behind.

Van der Mark shares an identical points lead with Florian Marino (Kawasaki) but is ahead in the championship rankings thanks to the race win at his home event in Assen two races ago. That victory was van der Mark's first in the WSS class. Not to be out done, Zanetti emulated the feat at the very next race, his home race in Imola, last time out, with van der Mark coming home in second to round off a fantastic weekend for the entire Pata Honda squad.

Michael is keen to turn around the bad luck he had at Donington last year, riding with a broken foot and then falling, remounting, but finishing out of the points. He is a big fan of the Donington layout and after taking 65 from a possible 75 points in the most recent three races he rivals even his Imola race-winning team-mate Lorenzo for confidence and positivity heading to the UK.

Several other Honda riders in the championship are also capable of taking podium places at least, as Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) proved by going third at the opening round of the season in Australia. Now sixth in the championship De Rosa has scored well in every subsequent round, and is hopeful about his chances at Donington Park this weekend.

Riccardo Russo (Lorini Honda) remains 13th in the points after finishing eighth at Imola last time out. His team-mate Marco Bussolotti placed seventh at Imola and in doing so put himself 14th in the championship after four rounds, just two points behind Russo.

Some tough luck and an injury early in 2014 have held Irish rider Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) down in 17th place as he approaches the closest race he has to his native land. As a former British Supersport challenger and a rider for the British-based PTR Honda team in 2014, Kennedy is looking to Donington to show his true form again after a strong rookie season with Honda in 2013.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) is another rider who knows Donington Park very well after competing there in GP races, and another who rides for the overall PTR Honda set-up based in England. Two no-scores so far have kept him in 19th place in the points.

Nacho Calero (CIA Insurance Honda) will go to Donington looking to score more points while Britain's Fraser Rogers (Com Plus SMS Racing Honda) approaches his home round with a point on the board already and a strong ambition to score some more.

After the Donington round there is a free weekend before the WSS squads head to Malaysia for the sixth round of the championship, at the regular MotoGP venue of Sepang.


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"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 bike is working well in the wet or the dry, which is exciting. We are going to Donington with a positive attitude. For me it does not change my attitude to the work we do whether I am going to a home race or any other race. Even my mood; I do not get any more excited over the home weekend but I do enjoy seeing even more friendly faces around. There are a lot more British fans around, and because I grew up through the BSB system they have always supported me. I am looking forward to going back and seeing them."

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"We have made really good progress over the past few races with the bike but we have not been able to capitalise on that because of various issues which have sometimes thrown spanners in the works. After testing at Imola for a day after the race we have figured out a lot of things about how it went on raceday. When you have time to work with the bike in testing it comes on in leaps and bounds. In the three 45 minute sessions of a race weekend we are a bit behind sometimes. I know the Donington track well but because of the WSB regulations I cannot go there that often. I have been on the podium there on a Stiggy Honda in the past, and again on another bike in 2012. Donington is my home race of course and to have that home support is really nice. The pressure of riding at a British race is not an issue for me."

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"At the last round in Imola all of our team got quite a nice boost with Lorenzo winning and me in second place and I think we can also do really well at Donington. Everywhere we have been we have been fast so I am really looking forward to it again. Last year I was a bit unlucky at Donington but I was riding with a broken foot. This year can be better than that and I love the track, so I cannot wait to get some laps in there. The first part is really beautiful but the last part is really strange. There are many passes made there, of course, but it is completely different from the first part."

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"I had a good time after the race win at Imola and it was amazing to do it at home. Not just for myself but also for all in the team, the sponsors and everyone involved. It was a great sensation. I took just one day off on the Monday and then started to work immediately for the Donington weekend. OK, I have won my first WSS race now, but the most important thing is that it re-opened my opportunities in the championship and now I need to push and focus on all the next races. There is no sense on spending a lot of energy on that one win and then stopping. I have focused on trying to push in all the races. For the past few years I have changed teams, categories, bikes, almost everything each year but this year is the first I have stayed on the same bike, in the same team - same everything. I think our present good position is due to this stability of the whole effort."

Raffaele De Rosa: (CIA Insurance Honda)
"My race at Imola was not so bad except for suffering a penalty and dropping places in the results. Now our bike is better all the time and the settings too. I believe we can have a good race in Donington because I like the circuit there."

Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda)
"I am training at 110%, mostly swimming and cycling. The foot I injured in Australia is not uncomfortable on the bike anymore so I am feeling fit and looking forward to Donington. I love the track and the fast flowing nature of the first three sectors. I am happy to go there and we just need a little bit of luck on our side for one weekend. We need some decent points and we showed we could be up the front at Assen. We just need to find the settings to keep us up there for a whole race now."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda)
"Donington is a track I know well. I raced there many times and I always enjoyed riding there because the first part of the circuit is special, with spectacular views for the fans. Because the final part of the track is very different it does seem difficult to have good set up on bike. We had lots of information from Aragon so it should be possible to use similar set up and then the team can gather more good information at Donington during practice. The main thing for me is to work hard during all the sessions because it has been a long time since I rode there. It's important because it is almost like my home race as all my team live in England. I will try my best."

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