The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship headed to Donington Park for Round 6 as the 2023 campaign hit the halfway stage. The wins were shared between Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) while rookie Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) secured a first rostrum. However, there were also disappointments further down the grid after a dramatic Prosecco DOC UK Round.
A ROOKIE PODIUM: Petrucci’s step forward shows
Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) made a big step forward last time out at Misano but a couple of incidents meant he didn’t realise his potential. Fast forward to Donington and the rookie shone throughout the round. A first front row in Tissot Superpole was followed by fourth in Race 1 – his best result in 2023; for a day, at least – before he stepped onto the rostrum for the first time in Race 2 after a brilliant charge through the field. He’s stated his goal is to win in WorldSBK… how long until ‘Petrux’ is on the top step after his breakthrough on the Panigale V4 R?
THE RETURN OF THE ‘TITANIC TRIO’: their fierce fights reoccur
Donington Park featured the ‘Titanic Trio’ resuming their rivalries at the front of the order. While Bautista and Razgatligolu shared the wins, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made it difficult for them as he went in search of his first win of 2023. In the Tissot Superpole Race, the Ulsterman led for the majority before being demoted to third over the last two laps as the fights intensified. Race 2 was another unforgettable bout between the trio as they all battled hard for victory. It also meant Bautista ended Ducati’s Donington difficulties with two wins; extending his lead in the Championship to 93 points.
A NEW MILESTONE: podium 250 for the #65…
While the six-time Champion was unable to end his win drought, he did rack up a new milestone. His Race 1 rostrum was his 250th in WorldSBK as he became the first rider to hit this incredible record and he made it 251 in the Superpole Race. He is now 121 clear of Troy Corser in second place in the all-time list. His two UK Round podiums meant he moved onto 18 at Donington, moving him ahead of Tom Sykes (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) for rostrums at the historic circuit.
WHAT COULD’VE BEEN? disappointment but not necessarily a down…
British rookie Brad Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) had high hopes coming into his home round but his goal of reaching the top ten was left unfulfilled. He was taken out in Race 1, leaving his bike parked upside down in the gravel. He battled for 12th in the Superpole Race – his joint best of the season – before securing points in Race 2 with 13th. The reigning British champion will head to Imola with his head held high after a strong performance, but perhaps ruing what might have been after showing strong pace in Friday’s mixed conditions.
HONDA’S PERFORMANCE: only one top-ten appearance for Team HRC all weekend
There will undoubtedly be questions asked about Honda’s performance at Donington Park after a disaster of a weekend. Only once did Team HRC secure a top-ten result and that was in FP1 on Friday, where running was limited due to the conditions. Their best result was in Race 1 when Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) took 11th and narrowly missed out on a top-ten spot, but the British venue was a far cry from last year’s UK Round when Honda were represented in the top ten in all three races by Iker Lecuona (Team HRC).
RINALDI’S LACK OF PERFORMANCE: more woes for the Italian
Another talking about from the UK was Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) struggles. While his Race 2 non-score was due to him trying to avoid someone else’s crash and being put into the gravel by someone who couldn’t avoid Rinaldi’s evasive action, he made two mistakes in Race 1 and the Superpole Race which cost him time and position. In Saturday’s encounter, he ran wide at Coppice which dropped him to the back and the field, and it was a similar story in Sunday’s 10-lap battle when he went into the gravel at Turn 11 on Lap 1. After his Race 2 crash, Rinaldi was diagnosed with a mild concussion and a right ankle injury, but he will hope to be back in action for Imola.
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