World Superbike Donington Commentary
It was an eventful round six of World Superbike at Donington, with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes reminding everyone why he is a SBK Champion. At the same time, Sykes’ teammate Jonathan Rea is letting everyone know that he is not slowing up on his assault on the 2015 World Superbike title. There were some crashes, and other riders were unusually consistent. Let’s look at the Upside and Downside of Donington SBK.
2015 World Superbike Donington Commentary, Upside
Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R: This was a huge round for Britian’s Sykes, who has been struggling all year while his teammate Rea has dominated. Getting a double-win is exactly what Sykes needed to get his season moving in the right direction. Combines with the pair of seconds at the previous round in Imola, Sykes has moved to within a point of Aprilia’s Leon Haslam, who is second in the standings.
“I feel good after the Donington Park round,” Sykes said, “really happy with the way we approached the weekend in general. The way we evaluated everything and moved forward paid off. We have a good track record at Donington, but we did nothing special. We had made some small steps at previous events, turned a corner at Imola and that carried on to Donington.
“I needed to get my season going and in the last four races we have been second, second, first and first. So I have felt more at home on the bike and we have had been doing a lot of points scoring. I feel I have a bike set-up where, if I get passed I can re-pass, and that really excites me. I feel we have made improvements in general, and we have a fairly decent track record at a number of the circuits coming up, so I feel we have the set-up heading in the right direction in the nick of time. I won a race at Portimão last year, and I am really looking forward to heading to Portugal and experiencing the KRT Ninja ZX-10R there.”
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R: Amazingly, the two seconds scored by Rea is his worst performance of the season, and the first time he hasn’t won at least one of the races. Still, given the trouble he had with the ZX-10R’s handling – he nearly crashed twice in Coppice Corner within seconds in Race 2 – to work his way to the second spot both races was a great achievement. They say that you win your championships on your bad days, and Rea made the most of his problems and Sykes being dialed in. Rea extended his championship lead over Haslam and is now up by over 100 points.
Chaz Davies – Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: Two podiums for Chaz Davies at Donington was a happy surprise for the Ducati racer. He solidified his fourth place in the standings, and is in position to start attacking Haslam and Sykes for the second place spot.
“The weekend wasn’t easy, but we worked hard and to finish both races on the podium here is very positive,” Davies said. “Today we simply weren’t on the same level as the Kawasakis, and doing any better than third was difficult. In race two, I didn’t have much grip and also had a small problem off the line that fortunately sorted itself out right away. Let’s say I’ve done all I could here today and we can only be happy, especially considering the fact that this has always been something of a bogey track for me.”
Alex Lowes – Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000: Consistency has been Lowes’ biggest problem this year, with him failing to finish at one race at three meetings. Two sixths aren’t great, but two finishes are. This moved him from 10th to 8th in the standings, which is definitely a positive.
“I was struggling a bit in both races with some confidence on corner entry which cost me some time,” Lowes said, “but the second race felt better than the first. We’ve made some big steps forward, so now we’ve got something to build on to keep improving further for the next race…I always enjoy racing at Donington, and to fight a bit with the top guys, get two consistent finishes and some solid points here was good.”
2015 World Superbike Donington Commentary, Downside:
Leon Haslam – Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 RF: After three seconds and a win at the first two rounds, Haslam has struggled. In the next four rounds, he has just one podium (a 3rd in Race 2 at Aragon). Two fourths by Haslam at Donington has allowed Sykes to move to just one point behind him. Arm pump was the reason for his problems at Donington, along with cracked ribs from Imola.
“We have a few issues but, honestly, the big issues were with me,” Haslam said. “Big arm pump in Race 1, while overcompensating, and a little bit in Race 2; as I was changing direction in the last two heavy braking sections, I was losing too much. We have a couple of weeks before Portimao and hopefully we’ll be a lot stronger.”
Matteo Baiocco – Althea Racing Ducati Panigale R: He hasn’t been spectacular this year, but Baiocco has been consistent.Coming into Donington, he had finished every race in the points, and had two 6ths to his credit. Things didn’t go well at Donington, however, as he failed to finish Race 1 and was 10th in Race 2. As bad as that was, due to poor showings by Leandro Mercado and Michael van der Mark, Baiocco actually moved from 8th to 7th in the standings.
Michael van der Mark – PATA Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: Two DNFs at Donnington (one crash, one technical) is making a hard rookie season even harder for the reigning World Supersport Champion. He’s down to 10th in the standings, which is quite a disappointment, considering he was fifth in his first race of his Superbike career.
“There’s not really much to say because it’s been the most disappointing weekend for me on a superbike,” van der Mark said. “I felt like we made some progress during each session except in Superpole yesterday when I could not get the qualifying tire to work. That left me quite a long way back on the grid so I was pushing hard in race one to make up some places when I crashed. I’m not sure what the problem was in race two but there was a technical problem with the front of the bike that meant I could not continue.”