June 28 2023
Heading just “up the road” from Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK’s UK base at Crescent Yamaha, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli hope to deliver more home-round happiness at Donington Park this weekend – Round 6 of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship.
A third “Home Race” in addition to the championship’s two Italian rounds in Misano and Imola, not far from Yamaha Motor Europe’s Research & Development facility near Milan, the Crescent-operated official Yamaha WorldSBK crew are hoping for the same kind of success that they have enjoyed at Donington in recent years.
The site of Yamaha’s first win since returning to WorldSBK competition in 2018, a superb double victory, was followed by another double at the hands of Razgatlıoğlu in 2021 – and a “lap of the gods” in drying conditions that saw the Turkish ace go from 13th on the grid to second place in half a lap before delivering victory in Race 1. But it was 2022 that man and R1 WorldSBK machine achieved perfect harmony: Yamaha and Razgatlıoğlu’s first “triple” of decisive wins in all three races.
But is Donington Park still the same Donington of old? The first major work completed in more than 20 years includes full resurfacing, a slight reduction in the circuit’s quirky undulations and changes to increase corner camber, which the WorldSBK field will have the first chance to see on Thursday during their “track walk” and at speed for the first time on Friday morning in Free Practice.
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK’s #55 rider Locatelli is determined to return to early 2023 form which saw him firmly grab on to third place in the championship standings behind Razgatlıoğlu. To do so, he’ll have to master Donington much like his teammate has in the past.
It’s a tricky combination track as #54 Crew Chief Phil Marron explains, where the first two-thirds of the circuit requires a bike with good natural turning using the throttle and some spin in the traction control settings – but the final third is more of a stop-go affair, demanding a chassis setting which offers enough support to allow aggressive braking and agile turning.
“I have very good memories in the UK – my first podiums and then last year we won all three races with Yamaha! We will see what is possible this weekend, maybe with new asphalt we have more grip and there is a good chance to win – I hope. I need wins in Race 1 and Race 2, not just Superpole Race! It is more a ‘real’ win in the full race, I am just focused on this. We know Ducati will still be strong but I hope we are winning in Donington Park.”
“It is great to be back in the UK, especially at Donington because it is an interesting track to ride! First and second sectors are really fast, then three and four is a little bit more technical: we have hard braking and no easy corners because we have two really slow corners at the end. It will also be interesting to see the circuit because it has new tarmac, for sure it will change the feeling and maybe a little bit the grip so we will see. If we can arrive ready with everything and find a good feeling to start, I think we can fight for a good position in Donington – it is a track where our bike is normally working very well. It’s my third time racing at this track now and I have a lot more experience with the R1, so I would like to finish more in front and challenge for the podium – it’s the target.”