What a panorama for a racetrack that is considered to be one of the most beautiful and demanding in the world – here is a photo from 2019 at the last WorldSBK event in early July.

The fourth WSBK World Championship round in Donington Park – where it all began

In our richly illustrated you can of course also find the reports and results from the first years of the WorldSBK. The origin was Donington and the regulations were a bad joke back then, to say the least. Anyone who is surprised or even annoyed about track limits and the questionable application of the new regulations introduced by the FIM today, however, begins to understand immediately. At the time, the same organization was responsible for a construct in which the winner of the first race drove home with no points in the event of a fall or failure in the second run. There was a prominent example of this at the very first WSBK race in history.

Ducati WorldSBK team principal Davide Tardozzi with three-time world champion Troy Bayliss – the Italian was much more successful as a manager than as a driver, but at least he was able to achieve a few victories in the early years, which also demands respect.

As the first winner without points
The first to suffer back then was today’s Ducati manager Davide Tardozzi. On April 3, 1988, the Italian won the first race in WSBK history on a Bimota with a Yamaha FZR750 engine, ahead of Marco Lucchinelli (Ducati), TT legend Joey Dunlop and the eventual world champion Fred Merkel (both Honda). Tardozzi fell one lap before the end of the second run and his compatriot Lucchinelli won this race and was then declared the overall winner. Merkel finished second and Dunlop fifth, which brought them two and three. But the opening winner had to leave without points, which was of course more than questionable from a sporting point of view. Probably Davide would not have competed for the second round on the HungaroRing if the pranksters from the FIM had not quickly improved the regulations to Donington.

The top three of the first WSBK race in history with Marco Lucchinelli, Fred Merkel and Joey Dunlop from left – the overall winner from Italy became Ducati Team Principal a year later and drove together with Raymond Roche in the world championship. A year later, the Frenchman became the first WorldSBK world champion for Ducati.

What can the fans, teams and riders expect from the England Round?

This time there will hardly be many visitors from the mainland, because quarantine restrictions still apply to entry and, above all, return. Although BMW hope Tom Sykes in particular is the man with the best memories of this track, the world championship leader has also won here many times. Johnny Rea won all three races on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR in the last edition. The co-favourites this time should not be Sykes and Michael van der Mark as double winners of 2018, but rather Yamaha ace Toprak Razgatlioglu, Rea teammate Alex Lowes and Ducati star Scott Redding. After a mostly unsuccessful start to the season despite the new model, the two BMW drivers Sykes and van der Mark should already be satisfied with a top five result. In wet conditions, the path will lead to victory over the reigning world champion, while in dry conditions the starting position should be more open. According to the current forecast, however, there is currently a low probability of rain at the weekend.

Our recording of the last event so far in postcard weather in July 2019 on Sunday – the day before in the first race, heavy rain had caused completely different conditions.
The course, located in the immediate vicinity of East Midland Airport, is 4,023 kilometres (2.49 miles) long. With 7 right and 5 left turns, the longest start-finish straight is just 550 meters long.
The record of Donington victories until 2019 is held by Tom Sykes with their 9 in front of Carl Fogarty (6) and record world champion Jonathan Rea with 5. This means that the man from Huddersfield will remain the record holder after the event of this season. The most successful Supersport 600 driver was Kenan Sofuoglu. The Turk won no less than 4 races, which means that his record will last for a long time and the WSSP won’t even be a guest this time.

Stand in the world championship after round 3 in Misano

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) will also be the man to be consistently beaten in 2021 if you want to fight for the title this season. The co-favourites already had their first weaknesses, which is why persistence is required.

WorldSBK Donington Park schedule (WSBK only, no WSSP)

DayLocal timeMEZSession
Fr, 2. Jul10:30 – 11:1511:30 – 12:15WorldSBK – FP1
Fr, 2. Jul15:00 – 15:4516:00 – 16:45WorldSBK – FP2
Sa, 3. Jul09:00 – 09:3010:00 – 10:30WorldSBK – FP3
Sa, 3. Jul11:10 – 11:2512:10 – 12:25Superpole
Sa, 3. Jul14:0015:00Race 1 WorldSBK
Su, 4. Jul09:00 – 09:1510:00 – 10:15Warm-Up
Su, 4. Jul11:0012:00Superpole Race WSBK
Su, 4. Jul14:0015:00Race 2 WorldSBK
We photographed Donington Park Restaurant on WorldSBK weekend 2019 – this time only a limited number of people received entry tickets. In the second year of the corona pandemic, only a maximum of 4,000 visitors are allowed per day, after the event was even cancelled completely in 2020.

The still provisional calendar for 2021

As in MotoGP, there have already been numerous postponements and the round in Phillip Island (Australia) has already been cancelled. Even the FIM and Dorna no longer believe in the implementation of San Juan in Argentina and the Mandalika Circuit on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Therefore, further changes are to be expected and instead of the overseas races from the original plan, further events in Europe should be added, unless the calendar is even reduced to 11 or 12 laps at the end.

Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© WorldSBK).