What’s your favourite bike racing memory from Donington? There’s been loads over the years from Carl Fogarty’s maiden WSB win in 1992 to Scott Redding’s 2008 success of becoming the youngest rider in history to claim a Grand Prix win. This weekend all attention is on two men: Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
It is amazing to think that three years ago Rea was yet to claim a title. Now he has three stashed away and is quickly closing in on a fourth. It may therefore come as a surprise that the Northern Irishman has never claimed pole position at Donington Park, although he masterfully beat Sykes in 2018 to end his team-mate’s stunning run of nine consecutive wins stretching back to 2013. One more career win for Rea is 60 while another pole for Sykes would be 44. Both would become new records.
What about Ducati? There’s been no Donington win for the Italian marque since 2011 with Carlos Checa. Marco Melandri has had two – one with Yamaha, the other with BMW – while Chaz Davies is yet to take the chequered flag at the track right next door to East Midlands airport. Both Aruba riders are hoping an emergency test at Mugello last week has served its purpose following the agony of Imola when the Panigale showed slower race pace than in 2017 and was comprehensively beaten.
Yamaha is another team going through a rough patch. Alex Lowes’ pole position heroics of Assen brought nothing noteworthy in the races, while Imola never has been a strong track for the blue bikes. Michael van der Mark was tremendous in The Netherlands with a double podium, but his strong Saturday race at Imola was quickly forgotten once he ran into Melandri on the Sunday. Let’s see whether Lowes can stick it on the Donington podium as he brilliantly did last year. Both men will receive backup from Italian test rider Niccolò Canepa who is also racing this weekend.