PODIUM HUNT HEADS TO DONINGTON After taking a week to recover from back-to-back races the MotoGP World Championship returns next weekend for the eighth round of the season. The British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at Donington Park, located...
PODIUM HUNT HEADS TO DONINGTON
After taking a week to recover from back-to-back races the MotoGP World Championship returns next weekend for the eighth round of the season. The British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at Donington Park, located in the heart of England's East Midlands, just a stone's throw from the legendary Sherwood Forest.
For different reasons both Team Honda Gresini riders are both keen to get back on track and put the Barcelona race behind them. Marco Melandri and Toni Elias were suitably disappointed with their results in Spain but are looking ahead to the next round with motivation and the hunger to bounce back. As always, the big question mark ahead of the race in England is the weather, with the area notorious for frequent changes between wet and dry conditions.
Marco Melandri: "We always knew that Barcelona would be one of the hardest circuits for us. Now we head to Donington, which in theory should be much more favourable because it is more suited to the characteristics of our bike. The corners are not that fast and the straight shouldn't be too much of a problem, since it only measures 564 metres. The unknown factor at Donington is the weather because the temperatures can vary drastically. If it rains I think us Bridgestone riders will have a good chance. I got on the podium last year, which was a massive achievement because physically I still wasn't in great shape -- just two weeks had passed since that big crash in Barcelona. I am hoping for a good race at what is a special circuit for me because I live only a few kilometres from the circuit."
Toni Elias: "This is a track I like a lot. I missed the race here last year because of the injury I picked up at Assen, where I fractured my shoulder, but I've always had good results previously at Donington. Hopefully we can do a good job here all weekend because the top speed factor isn't as important at this circuit -- it's more important to have good handling on the bike. I'm looking for a good result to get over the disappointment of my home race at Barcelona, when I was forced to retire before the end. The asphalt at Donington can be very slippery -- especially if the temperatures are low -- so it will be important to make a good tyre choice."
A TECHNICAL TRACK: Donington is an historic circuit, perhaps even antiquated when it comes to the facilities and infrastructure, but remains one of the best tracks on the entire MotoGP calendar -- both in terms of its attractiveness to the riders and to the spectators. The circuit layout is quite technical -- fast in the first half and slower in the second. Hard braking areas in the tight final three corners make it easy to run wide and many races are won and lost in this difficult section. One of the most distinctive sections on the track is without doubt Craner Curves, a fast fifth-gear sweeper which needs to be tackled with bravery and caution, since it is downhill. It is fundamental to get the right line through this section. Because of the dramatic difference between the fast opening section and the slower final turns, it is crucial to find a good balance in the bike setting. You need a good compromise between agility, to deal with the flowing corners, and the stability required under heavy braking and hard acceleration.
THE DONINGTON GRAND PRIX COLLECTION
Unveiled as a motorcycle racing circuit back in 1931, Donington has also become a popular venue for car racing. The track layout has undergone several modifications, particularly after a long period of inactivity during the war. The most recent changes were made in 1985, when the current layout was established: a 4,023 metre track with 11 corners. Since 1987 it has been the home of the British Grand Prix, taking over from Silverstone. As a mark of homage to Britain's prestigious motorsport heritage, Donington also houses a fantastic museum on the outskirts of the circuit, which is home to the biggest Grand Prix collection in the world. Over 130 cars are parked in five large exhibitions halls, covering some of the most important eras in the history of racing. There is a complete gallery of the now defunct Vanwalls models, a stunning collection of Williams and McLaren cars and special exhibitions dedicated to the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna. Not to be missed.