The 2011 World Superbike Championship continues this weekend at Donington Park in the UK, a month after the season opener in Phillip Island.
Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa left Australia with 50 points after winning both races. Following him in both races was the reigning World Superbike Champion Max Biaggi. Taking third in Race 1 was Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad), and Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) in Race 2.
The Donington World Superbik grid will be lacking a rider this weekend, James Toseland. The BMW Motorrad Italia rider fractured his wrist at a test last weekend at Aragon. He underwent surgery, and is expected to be back for Round 3 in Assen.
In other rider news, Kawasaki Racing's Chris Vermeulen will be making his return to WSBK racing this weekend; he is still recovering from knee surgery, and hasn't raced since Brno last season.
The World Superbike field will begin practicing this Friday at Donington, a track located about 60 kilometers north of Birmingham in the county of Leicestershire.
Here's what the riders are saying about Round 2 of the 2011 WSBK Championship:
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia RSV4) says: "Donington is a track that I like very much. I've always been able to achieve good results there and even riding the RSV4 for the first time in 2009 I took a spot on the podium. This is a good time for us; we have just come from a difficult track like Phillip Island with the certainty that we are still competitive.
"On this track we must not underestimate the thick patrol of English riders who always find some special motivation when they are playing on their home turf. In any case, we're ready to take on their attacks along with the uncertain weather factor which could also shuffle the cards on the table. I feel fit and I'm ready to battle."
Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia RSV-4) says: "The weekend at Phillip Island was truly terrible, but it's over now and we're looking toward the next races. Physically I feel much better. I took advantage of the break to rest up and recover my strength.
"At Donington I certainly aim to make up for it. In any case it won't be easy. In Australia we saw a very level playing field and a lot of riders who are very capable of setting their sites on the podium. On top of that all of the English riders will be wanting to look good on their home track, so we'll have to give it our very best."
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R) says: "I like the Donington track, I've not been lucky there in the past but that's been a consequence of the races, nothing to do with the track itself. I want to forget the past and pretend the wins at Phillip Island never happened, in the sense that we'll start this weekend with the same program and the same determination as ever, as if it were the first race of the season.
"It's a track where top speed doesn't count much and could therefore be good for us. Of course our rivals are numerous, because as well as the usual suspects, Biaggi and Haslam, there will also be other Brits who are historically fast when riding at home. We just have to hope that it's not too cold there but, all in all, I feel optimistic and am ready."
Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR) says: "I'm in pretty good shape after quite a painful start to the season in Australia, but I've spent the last three weeks working hard on my training and having a lot of physio.
"I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to ride pain-free at the weekend but the strange thing is that I wasn't too uncomfortable on the bike in Australia, despite the injuries – it was the aches and pains getting out of bed in the morning that I struggled with! I'm looking forward to getting to Donington though; it's a circuit I know really well and we have some good data from before.
"I can't wait to see the new layout of the chicane and it's really good to have the first European round at home where a lot of my friends and family can come and support. To improve what's already a great all-round package, the guys back at the workshop have found some things to get a little more out of the Fireblade since we got back so I'm hoping for a really good weekend."
Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR) says: "Of course, the time we spent in Australia was like our pre-season testing because it was the first time that I had any dry time on the CBR. We had to go through a lot of things and try various settings to find a good direction and the right balance for the bike.
"It came quite late, but we found it for race two when I was able really to ride the bike for the first time. It was a great step forward and, if I hadn't overshot the first corner a little, I think I would have finished even higher. It gives me great confidence for the trip to Donington Park, which is a good, traditional circuit and one I like to ride very much, especially the main part which is fast and flows very nicely. We have a lot of British riders in the championship again this year, so they will all want to do well there, which gives a lot of motivation for everyone else, too!"
Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad S1000RR) says: "Racing in England any time of the year is a great occasion for both the British fans and myself, so for sure I can't wait to be back at Donington. The weather conditions in the UK are not always in our favor but the track is only 20 minutes from my house and I have a lot of support in that area.
"This track requires extremely hard braking. Actually, when it comes to braking, Donington is one of a kind. I have completed countless laps there in the past – including on production bikes. I know this circuit like the back of my hand so I really am looking forward it and I hope we can make that next step forward with the bike and continue to push at the front."
Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad S1000RR) says: "I am really looking forward to Donington Park. Like Phillip Island, it's another track which I enjoy racing at and normally perform well at so we'll have to wait and see what happens. We've identified a few issues from Phillip Island that we need to address before Donington, but otherwise I am confident we can make that next step further and be competitive.
"The layout of the circuit is great – really fast and flowing – especially through Craner Curves. I am just looking forward to racing there again and seeing how we perform."
Roberto Rolfo (Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R) says: "I can say Donington is one of my favorite circuits. Rough braking and very fast corners where you can slide motard style. A track that allows high acceleration with a Superbike that leaves breathless!
"The only problem could be the weather, but I am convinced that with a little luck and some sun the weekend will be among one of the best and fun of this 2011 championship. I know that the team has worked hard to put me in the best possible condition for this important appointment. I thank them now and I'll also thank them while on the track doing my best."
Mark Aitchison (Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R) says:" During the races at Phillip Island I really feel I started to understand how to change my riding style for the superbike. My experience in the past few seasons has been aboard the Supersport bike, so it was quite a big adjustment for me.
"In any case I felt comfortable on the bike and that is exactly what I will be looking for in next week races in Donington Park. Once I am comfortable on the bike, I know that my confidence will come and the results will follow. I had a lot of fun at Phillip Island, but once I was back at my base in the UK, I was straight back into training and getting myself prepared for our full season in Europe.
"I have been working hard on refining some areas of my conditioning fitness program so I can ride the Kawasaki Superbike a little easier over the course of a race. Fortunately the Donington circuit has similar traits to Phillip Island in the fact that it has a flowing nature, with big open corners throughout the majority of the track. So the setup of the bike shouldn't be too far away from our base setting of Phillip Island and we can approach the weekend knowing we have some relevant data on hand."
Michel Fabrizio (Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000) says: "The last time we raced at Donington, I finished with a podium in race two, so my memories of it are pretty good. I understand that the track has been modified a bit since then, so we will all be starting off learning about the changes and what effects they have on getting a good set-up. Most of the track is pretty flowing, but there are couple of places where you have to be really hard on the brakes and that is why a good set-up and well-balanced bike is vital.
"A lot of people seemed to be unduly concerned about how the weather may be at this time of the year, but the last race in Australia wasn't as good as we all expected, so Donington might be OK. Whatever the weather is, it will be the same for everybody and if it happens to be cold and wet, then that's how it's going be and I and the others just have to get on with it. On the other hand, it may turn out to be a fine, Spring day and everybody will be happy – especially the fans.
"British fans are always very enthusiastic about their racing and I hope that the weather is OK and we get a good crowd. I am feeling very positive about Donington and will be aiming for a good practice, qualifying and Superpole and then another great Donington podium."
Maxime Berger (Supersonic Ducati 1198R) says: "I really like the Donington Park track. Two years ago in Superstock I obtained the third place, after having obtained also the second fastest time in practice.
"The track suits my driving style with the fast and different corners. Of course, the Superbike is more demanding than the stock 1000 bike, but after making my debut at Phillip Island I know we're on the right way and with the help of my engineers we can improve and achieve the goals we set earlier in the season. In England I want to work a lot with my team I will give my best to do well."
Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "I'm feeling good and very happy to be getting back on my bike this weekend, one month with no riding seems very long. Donington has always been a good track for me, I had good races there in MotoGP and I think our bike will work well. My only concern is the weather, I'm hoping for some sunshine as I still haven't had much experience on the Pirelli wet tires."
Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "I'm pretty excited for Donington. After Phillip Island it's looking very promising, we showed a lot of potential there. We'll wait and see what the results are come Sunday but I'm quietly confident, I think we are going to be very strong. I like Donington a lot, especially the fast flowing nature of the track and I've always enjoyed riding it."