Donington Park will roar to the sound of World Superbikes this weekend for the first time since 2001 as the European Round of the championship takes place at the East Midlands circuit. Six years on, the event holds special significance because it was 20 years ago, almost exactly to the day, that the World Superbike championship began.
Despite winning the first of his two WSBK titles that very same year, the Ducati Xerox Team's Troy Bayliss had a difficult time at Donington in 2001 and the Australian could only manage to string together a 13th and a 9th place in the two races after struggling with tyre problems. Troy goes into the third round of this year's championship with one race win under his belt as he attempts to make up the 26 points on the current series leader and local favourite, James Toseland (Honda).
Troy Bayliss, 3rd in championship (64 points);
Troy Bayliss has been to Donington numerous times in British Superbike, World Superbike and in MotoGP and rates it as one of his favourite circuits.
"The last time I rode there was in MotoGP in 2005 and it was a new surface but I crashed out in the rain. I've got fond memories of Donington and I do like racing there, especially the Old Hairpin part of the circuit, but I've never had the results I'd like to have had - like a double win! We're going to go there and give it a shot and all we can hope for is we get a lucky break with the weather in England. This time of year we could have anything, there was even snow a few years back! Last year at this point in the championship, I only had one win, so I'm pretty much on track. It's a tough schedule ahead with five rounds in Europe in the next two months, but I'm in good shape, everyone's working well in the team and we're looking forward to kicking on."
Lorenzo Lanzi, 6th in championship (44 points);
Lorenzo Lanzi has only raced once at Donington, back in 2001 with a 250 GP team, but is confident that he can continue his positive start to the season this weekend.
"I have already raced at Donington once, in 2001 with 250 GP but I haven't been there for six years. That's a long time and the conditions will undoubtedly be difficult at this time of year. I quite like the circuit, it's very technical, very quick the first part and just plain slow the second so for sure we will give the brakes a good workout at Donington. As for the championship, it's a pity about the electrical problem I had in Superpole at Phillip Island because we could have had another good race. However as a start to the season goes, it hasn't been bad, now we're going to Donington to try and make up for points we lost in the race in Australia."
20 Years Ago;
The World Superbike championship got underway with a round at Donington twenty years ago on April 3rd 1988. The two winners on the day were current Ducati Xerox team manager Davide Tardozzi on a Bimota and Marco Lucchinelli (Ducati), but the overall win went to 'Lucky' as race results were combined for the first, last and only time in World Superbike history. In the nineteen editions since then there have been a total of 11 champions and 55 different race winners, with Carl Fogarty (4 titles and 59 wins) topping the lists ahead of double champions Troy Bayliss and Troy Corser (35 and 33 wins respectively). To celebrate the anniversary an array of stars, including former champion Fred Merkel (Honda) and 2003 winner Neil Hodgson (Ducati), will be riding their original race bikes on parade laps on Saturday and Sunday.
- Name: Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit
- Length: 4.023 km
- Pole Position: left
- Finish line length: 564 m
- Corners left/right: 5/7
- Race distance: 23 laps/92.529 km