Since the championship began arriving at Donington Park, in 1988, in the first event in the history of the competition, the MOTUL FIM World Championships has seen some of the most amazing moments here. From the early winners to the last fights, WorldSBK has seen it all in Donington Park, but one thing keeps coming back: Lots of underdogs make it to the top. Whether it’s Neil Hodgson as a substitute in Race 2 in 2000 against PerFrancisco Chile, David Tardozzi winning his first-ever WorldSBK race or Michael van der Mark finishing second in 2018, there’s always magic in the air at Donington Park. So, will we see another surprise this weekend? We’ve picked five drivers who could top this list of unexpected moments in Britain.
Fit and ready to surprise: will Rinaldi reach the podium?
Ducati’s recent history in Donington Park is a far cry from its illustrious past on the track. The Italian company hasn’t finished first and second since 2016, and hasn’t won here since Carlos Checa in 2011. They need a good weekend to maintain their championship advantage. While Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is sure to be in the game, teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi has arrived here after claiming his first podium finish of the year at home, in Misano. Since then, the Italian has also had a good test at Misano, becoming the first WorldSBK rider to score in 1:32. Rinaldi at his best and Italians always enjoy Donington Park: think of Perfransco Chile’s relationship with British fans, Marco Melandri’s first victory in 2011 and the first three WorldSBK winners in Donington Park, all Italians. Rinaldi is a candidate to add his name to the list.
In front of his fans: Scott Redding thrives at home
Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) has given a home show throughout his international career. Early in 2008, in the 125cc World Championship, he became the youngest Grand Prix winner at the time, winning at Donington Park at the age of 15. In 2012, Marc Marquez fought to the last lap for second place in the Moto2™ at Silverstone, before a stunning victory there in 2013. He then finished in the top ten of three MotoGP™ races in Great Britain, including sixth in 2015 on an independent Honda. At WorldSBK, tough weather surprised Redding in 2021, but he got away with it anyway with a fourth in Race 2. After testing at Donington Park with the BMW M1000RR, will Redding be able to shine again?
Final podium spot: Can Garrett Gerloff finally make a comeback?
Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) hasn’t shown his old racing pace since Race 2 at Assen in 2021. If he has a good Top 10, and shown himself at the free practice pace, the American hasn’t been on the podium at the WorldSBK since Donington Park 2021, where he finished second in Race 2. Returning to an atypical circuit, on which he has been fast since his first times, can give him the feeling that he needs to move on. Before him, the last American rider to win or stand on the podium at Donington Park was Ben Spies in 2009, also on a Yamaha. This weekend might be where Gerloff finds the beat.
Another local hero: Will Alex Lowes do another magical move?
He drove the WorldSBK race at Donington Park, was close to winning in 2018 and was on the podium on his debut for Kawasaki here in 2021. Alex Luiz (Kawasaki Racing World SPK Team) shone in Donington hoping to get his first match His podium of the year this weekend. Seventh in the standings by 24 distances from fifth, rookie Iker Lekouna (HRC Team), the 31-year-old British driver needs to get some big points. We might see him fighting up front, looking to interfere in a giant WorldSBK triple battle, as he has at times, particularly in the Assen and Estoril races.
Bets are off: Iker could be the biggest surprise
He’s never raced in Donington Park, and only raced here a day after the Misano event, but perhaps Donington’s magic will reach Ecker Lecona and the HRC team. Honda came close to the podium last year, and with Leon Kamier in his second season as team manager, don’t be surprised if the designated figure for the venue has made up a bit more at the weekend, and that ‘Iker Likuna’ enters the game. . It will be very difficult for someone who has never competed in this circuit, but was already in the match in Estoril this year, where it was the same.
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