The 2018 World Superbike Championship headed to the UK for the only time this season, and from the outset all eyes were on the British duo of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.The Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR pilots were favorites, and were quick throughout practice and qualifying. Sykes was the front runner in Superpole, claiming his 44th WSBK-career pole, surpassing Troy Corser for the record of pole positions in the series.
Three-time World SBK Champion and current points leader Rea qualified second.But neither would claim wins on their home turf. Earning both wins was Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Michael van der Mark.The Dutchman not only broke a string of 50 Ducati/Kawasaki wins, but also claimed his first-ever World Superbike victory Saturday after managing five second-place finishes in his career.Van der Mark was joined on the race-one podium by Rea and Sykes, and the race-two podium by Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and Rea.Due to his wins, YZF-R1 rider Van der Mark is now tied with Skyes for third in points; both have 163, 82 behind series leader Rea with seven rounds remaining.Speaking after his debut WorldSBK win, Van der Mark said: “I’m so happy with this first victory. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, I’ve been in Superbike for four years, the Yamaha project for four years, but finally have my first victory. We showed everyone that the bike is improving.”The series now breaks for two weeks ahead of the Czech round at Brno.Following are the official race recaps.
2018 Donington Park World Superbike Results, Race 1
No non-British rider had won at Donington Park since 2012, and from the Free Practice sessions and Superpole, few would have predicted that would change today in Race 1. But Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) threw out the script for the Prosecco DOC UK Round with a sensational ride, flying from sixth on the grid to his first ever win in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.Van der Mark is the first Dutch rider to win in the top class, and the first win for a Yamaha rider since Algarve 2011, Race 2. The Dutchman left both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) shocked and fighting for the remaining podium places, with the Northern Irishman in second and ‘Superpoleman’ in third.The psychological battle between the KRTs, leading the first row, started right from the start. Rea made it ahead at the lights, with the pair squabbling through sector 1. Sykes struck back three laps later at the Old Hairpin, but went wide at the Melbourne loop. Two laps later, an aggressive Sykes made it back in front, same move, same spot.The Kawasakis were poised – and had been widely predicted – to dominate Donington weekend, but van der Mark threw a spanner in the works immediately, the only rider able to keep up with Rea and Sykes after passing his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). But stalking the KRTs was not enough for the flying Dutchman – Rea went wide at Melbourne in lap 13, the same he’d done a few laps earlier, and van der Mark shot ahead into second.A couple of laps later, he attacked again. Van der Mark stuck the nose in at Melbourne, yet again, closed the line over Sykes, and blasted away in the lead. But the battle was far from over here: Rea picked his teammate’s pocket around Schwartz with 6 laps to go, and shot after van der Mark, smelling blood. Yet today it was not to be for the defending champion, the Yamaha rider making no mistakes and meeting the flag.Behind the sensational podium battle, Lowes finished in fourth, behind his teammate but scoring a fantastic finish at his home race. He will also have the consolation prize of leading the line at Race 2. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) finally translated his great qualifying and free practice performances into a great race finish, making it in at Donington in fifth, ahead of his teammate, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), in sixth.With the Kawasaki, Yamaha and Aprilia bikes all phenomenal ahead, it was a sorry day for Ducati, with just Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) making it into the top ten, in eighth position. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) crashed with five laps to go, and goes into Race 2 with no points.Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) made it in in seventh, with Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finishing ninth following a thrilling battle with his teammate at Donington, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who went to the floor on the final lap. Closing the top ten was Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) on his full WorldSBK return after injury.
2018 Donington Park World Superbike Results, Race 2
The floodgates were opened on Saturday, and now there’s no stopping Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). The Dutchman closed an extraordinary weekend at Donington for the Pata Yamaha team with the second win of his MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship career, a win against oll-odds in another fascinating race at the Prosecco DOC UK Round. A first double for van der Mark, and a first podium for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), beating none other than Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the closing stages.A poor start from Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) saw him gobbled up in the mix at the first turn, ceding two places to Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). The Yamaha managed to pick both off in short order however, Haslam at the Fogarty Esses (before the wildcard crashed at Melbourne), and the Italian in lap 2. Meanwhile, the two KRTs held a surprisingly aggressive battle, while the other Yamaha quietly made it through to the leading group from ninth on the grid.Quickly, one third in, the battle for the race turned into a three-way fight, with Lowes sticking strong but Rea taking ghost shots around Craner and Melbourne. Meanwhile, van der Mark, much like he did on Saturday, stalked the front two, biding his time. At the back, Razgatlioglu and Savadori fought nail and tooth for fourth, a few seconds back on the leading group.After two perfect thirds to the race, it all came apart for Lowes at the end. On lap 17, Rea found a spot at the Melbourne loop, where so many moves have been made this weekend, and pushed in front from the inside of Lowes, with van der Mark picking off the scraps at Redgate and moving to second. And just like yesterday, one lap later, van der Mark made his race-winning move at that same turn 11. The Ductchman shot off from there, giving his pursuers no option to take away his incredible double.There was one more surprise left at Donington, however. Amidst the front group bickering, Razgatlioglu found himself with the gap now non-existent. Showing an impressive late-race pace, the Turkish rider picked off Lowes with ease, before setting his sights on the three-time WorldSBK champion. And with one lap to go, he moved up to second. A fitting epilogue to Kenan Sofuoglu’s retirement in the last Round: Turkey has a new hero for years to come.With Rea finally in third, his worst result since the Thai Round, and Alex Lowes repeating his Saturday performance in fourth, there was another comeback behind. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) found his way all the way back to twelfth at the start, but a neat ride from the Welshman pushed him back to fifth, ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who couldn’t continue his incredible Donington streak and leaves with his first finish outside the podium since 2011.Savadori made it to the checkered flag in seventh, just ahead of Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who pipped Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) to eighth at the final turns, and leaves the UK Round with two top-ten finishes on his return. Closing the top ten was Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team), with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ending a weekend to forget down in eleventh.