World Superbike resumes after summer break with Donington classic This coming weekend at Donington, the HANNspree Superbike World Championship takes up again where it left off exactly one month ago with a round on British soil, the eleventh ...
World Superbike resumes after summer break with Donington classic
This coming weekend at Donington, the HANNspree Superbike World Championship takes up again where it left off exactly one month ago with a round on British soil, the eleventh appointment in this year's exciting championship and the first of the final four that will lead to the crowning of the 2008 champion. The first weekend in September is a new date for the East Midlands circuit, which will host a World Superbike round for the seventeenth time in its history, having been the venue for the first event of the production-based championship way back in April 1988.
The question on everyone's minds as they line up for the final part of the season is whether or not anyone can prevent Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) from taking a third world title. There are four rounds and eight races left, with 200 points on the board, but an 82-point lead for the Australian, currently on 334 points, is now starting to look increasingly unassailable. Not even the memories of a nasty crash at Donington twelve months ago, which cost him the loss of a piece of finger, should prevent the incredibly tough Australian from administering his lead in the best possible way. And just to underline the current situation in the table, while Bayliss hammered home his advantage with a dominant double victory at Brno, his closest pursuers, Max Neukirchner, Troy Corser, Carlos Checa and Noriyuki Haga have only been able to put together one win between them in the last three races.
Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) is in second place but the German's position is coming under fire from Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB), who has looked more and more competitive in this mid-part of the season, the Australian scoring eight top-5 finishes since the Miller event to move up the points table. His form has been inversely proportional to that of Spain's Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who has failed to go any higher than fifth in the races since his double win at Miller. Checa, fourth on 233 points, has raced numerous times at Donington in MotoGP so the Nottinghamshire track will be no mystery for him, unlike many of the circuits this year.
Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB) is in fifth place just three points behind, but he was almost back to his best at Brands Hatch, challenging his fellow Japanese rider Kiyonari for the win, and is a three-times previous winner at Donington, including last year, so he could spring another surprise this time around. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki Alstare) scored two fifth places at Brands Hatch, his best results for several races, but will now certainly have to watch out for the hard-charging trio of Max Biaggi (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), separated by five points in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively, and all on a roll of positive results. Four podiums in the last five races for Biaggi have helped to boost confidence for the Italian as he looks to finish off the season in the best possible way, with one eye on his future.
Kiyonari scored a brilliant double win on British soil one month ago, so expect more of the same from the Japanese star on another circuit he knows well from his BSB days, while Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati), surprisingly scoreless since his Misano win, makes up the top 10 in the points table.
The Kawasaki PSG-1 Corse pairing of Makoto Tamada and Regis Laconi have both been out of the points for far longer, since Nurburgring to be exact, but new suspension geometry developments at Donington should help the team obtain more respectable results in this latter part of the season.
Boosting the strong WSBK permanent entry list will be a powerful contingent of successful BSB regulars, headed by Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki), who returns for another bite of the cherry after his excellent performance at Brands Hatch, while the official UK Honda team, champions HM Plant, will bring BSB race winners Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow to the world stage. For team manager Neil Tuxworth, it will also be a return to World Superbikes for the first time since the epic Edwards-Bayliss encounter at Imola in 2002, when he was in charge of the winning Castrol Honda squad.
FIM Supersport World Championship
The Supersport regulars face up to their tenth event just a month after the loss of one of the championship's main protagonists and most popular figures, Craig Jones, who tragically lost his life following injuries received at Brands Hatch. With four rounds remaining, the championship increasingly looks to be turning into a battle between the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda pairing of Andrew Pitt and Jonathan Rea, who have won the last four rounds between them. The youngster from Northern Ireland has now leapt up into second place and is fully confirming the expectations placed in him in his debut season, while Broc Parkes (Yamaha World Supersport) and Joshua Brookes (Hannspree Stiggy Motorsport Honda) are always in the leading group but have been unable to challenge for the wins. With Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) out of action due to injury until the final races, the next man up in the standings is the early-season surprise runner Joan Lascorz (Glanermotocard.com Honda), but he has failed to figure in the top positions for the past five rounds.
Superstock 1000 FIM World Cup
Maxime Berger (Hannspree IDS Ten Kate Honda) is the man to watch in the top Superstock category after taking the last two wins. The 19 year-old Frenchman made it a Ten Kate whitewash in the Brands Hatch races with his third win of the year to go level on points with Brendan Roberts (Ducati Xerox Junior Team), winner of two races this year. The battle for third is between Xavier Simeon (Alstare Suzuki), who had a disastrous weekend at Brands Hatch, and a fast-catching Alex Polita (Sterilgarda Ducati), who has scored useful points in the last three races. Another rider to watch this weekend could be South African Sheridan Morais (Pedercini Kawasaki), who finished runner-up at Brands on his Superstock 1000 debut.
European 600 Superstock Championship
With three rounds remaining for the junior Superstocks, the title is still up for grabs, although French youngster Loris Baz (Yamaha YZF Junior Team) overturned the standings when he won his third race of the season at Brands Hatch. The result, combined with an unexpected DNF finish for the previously unstoppable Patrick Vostarek (Intermoto Czech Honda), leaves Baz with a seven points advantage. Dan Linfoot (StoneBaker Yamaha), the only other rider to win a race this year, is holding on to third place from Italy's Marco Bussolati (Yamaha Motor Italia Junior Team) and his Stonebaker team-mate Gino Rea.
About Donington Park
The Donington Park circuit is situated near Castle Donington and is one of Britain's most famous and popular motor racing circuits. The original track was opened in 1931, and initially used for motorcycle races, but was then closed in 1939 due to World War 2. In the early 1970s the circuit was bought by Tom Wheatcroft, who funded the rebuilding of the circuit, which was re-opened in 1977. The Melbourne Loop was built in 1985 to increase the lap distance to 2.5 miles (4.02 km) and allow the track to host Grand Prix motorcycle races. In recent times Donington has held World Superbike, MotoGP, British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes, as well as the 1993 F1 European Grand Prix.