PREVIEW: Donington Park welcomes WorldSBK for a crucial round in the 2024 title fight

Monday, 8 July 2024 05:00 GMT

The historic circuit always provides plenty of thrills and this season won’t be any different, with plenty on the line in the UK

It’s coming home – that’s the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, not football; although the latter could join WorldSBK on Sunday and there will be a few in the paddock hoping for a double celebration. World Superbike hits Donington Park, the circuit where it all started back in 1988, this weekend for Round 5 of an enthralling 2024 campaign with the Prosecco DOC UK Round. Grab your cuppas, enjoy a beautiful Sunday roast, and hope the British summer is in full swing for what’s set to be an epic visit to the United Kingdom.

THE FORM RIDER AT HIS FAVOURITE TRACK: will Razgatlioglu reign again?

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) heads into Donington in form, with four wins on the bounce and six in the first 12 races of 2024. The historic venue is one of a few that he calls his favourite, and the stats show why: 14 races, six wins, five P2s and only three races outside the top two. He comes into the round with a slight injury – bruising to his leg – from a training accident, and it remains to be seen how that’ll impact ‘El Turco’. It’s also a track that’s suited BMW in recent years, with teammate Michael van der Mark on the podium there in 2021, Tom Sykes with two rostrums in the same year and Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) taking a third-place finish in 2022 when racing for the ROKiT BMW outfit. Elsewhere, Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) claimed a podium finish when at Yamaha back in 2021 with second in Race 2, so could this be the round where the Bonovo BMW team bounce back?

RED CELEBRATIONS? Bulega and Bautista aim for return to winning ways

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing - Ducati) has endured a difficult start to 2024 with only two wins in 12 races; last year, he won 11 of the first 12 races. However, the #1 has generally made progress throughout each weekend and he’ll take confidence from the fact he won two races at Donington last season, despite it being a track the Bologna manufacturer had struggled at before. For teammate Nicolo Bulega, it’s his first time at Donington on World Superbike machinery but he did the double in the UK last year in WorldSSP and has three podiums in four races. Perhaps this is the circuit where the Italian manufacturer can really kickstart their season, although history suggests it could be difficult.

HOME HEROES AIMING HIGH: Rea to fight for podiums, Lowes twins in contention?

2024 has been nothing short of a disaster for Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) so far but there have been promising signs. Pole at Assen, gains in testing and moving forward in races all show signs of what could happen and what better place for it to all come together than Donington Park? Five wins and 18 podiums on home soil, at a track Yamaha have gone well at in the past, mean the #65 will be hoping for a strong result. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has been a standout performer this season with consistency the name of his game and that could prove crucial this year. No wins at Donington for the #22 have come so far, but he’s only been outside the top six twice at his home circuit since 2014. Twin brother Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) will be hoping he can impress at his local track too with his first appearance in WorldSBK in the UK, although he did take a WorldSSP win in 2012 at Donington. Elsewhere, Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) and Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) will be hoping for strong results on home soil, both having won there in British Superbikes.

SHOCKS ON THE CARDS? Lots of steps forward at Misano and in testing…

Almost exactly a year ago, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) claimed his first WorldSBK rostrum and last time out, he completed a heroic comeback to take P6 on Sunday at Misano. A podium might be one step too far as he’s still recovering but it’s something ‘Petrux’ will be aiming for. Donington has often proved tricky for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) with the Italian yet to score a podium; his best is P4, but will that change this year? Misano seemed to be a step forward for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) with three top-ten finishes, his and Honda’s best weekend of the season so far and will be looking to continue that in the UK along with teammate Xavi Vierge. For Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), it’s a first weekend at Donington on the ZX-10RR but he seemed to make progress over recent rounds and tests, so he’ll be hoping he’s close to teammate Alex Lowes throughout the weekend. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) has experience of Donington from the 125cc World Championship with his only points finish there coming in 2007 with 15th although he did crash out of the lead of the same race a year later, handing victory to 15-year-old Scott Redding. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) has showed good pace in testing; will it be the same this weekend?

LOOKING TO MOVE UP THE ORDER AT DONINGTON: hoping to turn their UK fortunes around

Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) heads into Donington on the back of a MotoGP™ return as he stood in for Alex Rins at the German Grand Prix, putting in a respectable performance on the Yamaha M1 machine. Both Gardner and teammate Dominique Aegerter struggled to make the top ten here last year but will be aiming to break that barrier this year. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) had a run of top-ten results at Donington between 2021 and 2022 but a difficult start to the year means this could be tricky to replicate. Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) and Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) will be looking to impress after tricky starts to their campaigns.

Read the Official Programme for Donington HERE, catch up on all the action from Misano with the FULL highlights show HERE and watch all the UK action with the WorldSBK VideoPass!