2011 World Superbike
The return of Donington to the World Superbike fold in 2011 has been lauded by riders and fans alike, and for good reason.
This track situated in the East Midlands of England not only kicked off what would become the Superbike World Championship phenomenon, but has been the catalyst for a number of all-time highpoints in WSBK racing history.
The first four superbike races were conducted on the ‘national’ circuit at Donington, without the Melbourne loop section, with Davide Tardozzi and Marco Lucchinelli sharing the wins.
In 1989 Fabrizio Pirovano scored a victory, and Giancarlo Falappa scored his first ever World Superbike win that same meeting. Neil Hodgson was another rider to take his first WSBK race win at Donington, some 11 years later.
Maybe most memorably of all, Carl Fogarty – a near veteran of 28 previous World Superbike races – really launched his WSBK career in 1992, when he fell in race one, then won the first of his all-time record 59 races that same day.
The Donington "winners’ club" in general reads like a who’s who of World Superbike racing. Carl Fogarty is the leading Donington victory collector with six, and his great rival Scott Russell took five Donington victories in his career.
Either Fogarty or Russell won every WSBK race at Donington from race two in 1992 to race two in 1995 – nine races in a row when they locked out all comers.
Behind the leading two Donington superbike riders, Noriyuki Haga has three wins, while Falappa, Troy Corser, Colin Edwards, Neil Hodgson and Ben Spies all have two. Single Donington winners include Tardozzi, Lucchinelli, Pirovano, Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Stephane Mertens, Raymond Roche, Aaron Slight, Pierfrancesco Chili, James Toseland, Troy Bayliss and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Donington, an early round in most previous seasons, has also been the first WSBK race for many World Superbike stars outside of their native territories. Bayliss’s first ride in WSBK outside Australia came at Donington in 1998, while Corser’s first northern hemisphere WSBK ride, in 1994, saw him go third on the grid, retire in race one but earn a third place in race two.
The rest as they say, is history, and in 2011 Donington will get the chance to make more history in the WSBK championship.