This weekend sees the third round of the World Superbike Championship come to Donington Park for the first of three rounds in the UK. Donington hosted the very first championship round on 3rd April 1988 and it is returning to the circuit for the first time in six years to mark the championship's 20th anniversary.
The track is known for its two-faced character - fast sweeping corners combined with slower first gear sections. The Yamaha team's technicians will have a challenging job in finding the best compromise between stability at high-speeds and agility for quick changes of direction. The track is an ideal setting for spectators as it is a natural amphitheatre with spectator banking around most of the circuit.
After an extensive test session in Valencia last weekend, the Yamaha Motor Italia Team has gathered new data that will help them find the best setting for the upcoming race. With the focus on tyre-life at race distance the riders lapped multiple race distances on their 2007 YZF-R1s.
As a result of last week's testing session the team will be looking to improve on their results in the championship so far this season. Corser claimed the first third place podium for the team at Qatar while Haga gave the team another third position at Phillip Island. Currently Corser lies in fifth position in the championship standings so far and Haga in fourth.
Haga comes to Donington looking to fight for race wins and to potentially repeat his double win at Donington in 1998. His third place at Phillip Island was achieved in spite of him having a cold so he is determined of a better result, now he is back in peak fitness. With Corser being victorious in two races during the 1996 round, both riders have proven to be winners on this venue. "I'm looking forward to Donington very much because it is where I took part in my first European round of WSB in 1998!" Haga says, "I won both races that time, so I'm hoping I can repeat it again this year. It is a very exciting circuit to race at because it is demanding both technically and mentally, I like it and, with the right set up, it suits my riding style. We tested many things at Valencia which I am sure will help with the race set up at Donington - you will be able to see for yourself from the result of the race!"
Following on from a slightly disappointing home round at Phillip Island and then a productive testing session at Valencia, Troy Corser is positive about success at one of his favourite circuits where he also managed a double win in 1996. "I'm glad to be back at Donington Park" he says. "Hopefully the weather will be good. Whenever I have raced there previously I have done pretty well. I like the track and, at Valencia last week, we got to try out lots of new set-up options that we hadn't tried before so I'm expecting a good result this weekend."
The Yamaha World Supersport Team hopes to improve on the mixed results at Phillip Island. Parkes scored a good but hard fought third place at the second round, leading for all but the final three laps, when he ran out of grip. Curtain struggled as well with rear end traction due to tyre problems which saw him drop from the battle for top spot to 11th position. In spite of the disappointing result at the last round, Curtain put in the quickest lap at last week's Valencia testing session. Parkes came in fifth fastest, leaving the team feeling upbeat going into the third round.
Kevin Curtain states, "I haven't been to Donington since 2001, but I do like the circuit and am really happy to be back there. I was just getting to know it when it was taken off the calendar! During the test in Spain last week we worked on suspension settings to get more life out of the rear tyre. With the set-up alterations we made the bike showed some consistent speed during the long runs, which is a good step forward for this round."
Donington also marks the first round of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup. Claudio Corti and Michele Pirro got some pre-season testing in at the official FGSport tyre test in Valencia last week. Corti posted the fastest time overall while youngster Pirro ended an impressive fourth quickest despite still getting to grips with the Superstock class. Both riders are planning to show their fighting form at Donington on Sunday, with Corti looking to demonstrate his championship winning capabilities. Pirro is looking to focus on adapting his riding style from the 125cc machines he has ridden previously to the inline four cylinder engine of the YZF-R1. 2005 Superstock 1000 champion ,Didier van de Keymeulen returns to the class for the 2007 season and will try hard to regain his championship status.