Official Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will approach the British WorldSBK round this weekend full of motivation to perform at their very best in front of their enthusiastic home fans.
Track action will take place at the 4.023km long Donington Park circuit in the East Midlands of England between Friday 5 July and Sunday 7 July, at what is a well-known layout and venue for both British riders.
Rea’s quiet determination - plus hard work from his on-site pit crew and Kawasaki as a manufacturer - have seen the four-time World Champion draw himself to within 16 points of runaway early championship leader Alvaro Bautista at the most recent events in Spain and Italy.
Rea is aiming for more victories to continue to move closer the top of the championship. He will have three chances under the new 2019 format of three races per weekend.
Donington is an almost literal a home round for Haslam as he grew up there and still lives in the local area. Leon has completed many thousands of laps there in the past as his famous ex-racer father Ron runs a racing school at Donington.
With strong support assured at what will be the only British round of the championship Rea and Haslam will aim to capitalise on their latest opportunity to go for race wins.
Riding at his winning best in some of the most recent races in Misano and Jerez, Rea also has a top step pedigree at Donington in WorldSBK in recent years. He has won two Donington races, his most recent for Kawasaki in 2017.
Haslam, a five times WorldSBK race winner and championship runner-up in 2010, has scored three podiums at Donington in previous seasons, but not quite a race win.
The very first WorldSBK race in history took place at Donington Park on a cool weekend in early April 1988. There have been 52 individual WorldSBK races at Donington in all, making it one of the most frequently used circuits for this production-derived category of racing.
In the championship standings, after six of 13 rounds, Rea is much closer second with 314 points to Bautista’s 330, and Haslam is fifth on 153 points.
Immediately after the Donington weekend there will be a quick transatlantic turnaround, with round nine taking place at Laguna Seca in the USA between 12 and 14 July.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “After spending a week in Italy by the beach with my family I’m ready for the next race. Donington is the closest thing I get to a ‘home race’ and I’m excited to go there and get stuck in. It’s a great circuit with a little bit of everything, and the first sector is one of my favourites of the season. It’s always a compromise with set up as we try to maximise both stability in the hard braking areas while making the bike agile in the faster and more flowing sections. With the race taking place in the UK summer I expect the weather to be great. Of course the target is to keep working with my team and maximising our potential with the Ninja ZX-10RR.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “What can I say about Donington Park, my home round? Racing in front of my home crowd - you can’t really explain how good that is. Especially at Donington, which is just down the road from my house. We have made some good steps after the Jerez tests and we have just come off the back of two podiums at Misano, so it could not come along at a better time. Kawasaki has a good record there, and I think, fundamentally, we should be on a strong package. It is never easy, but I am looking forward to it and hopefully we can have a good weekend at home.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) has moved into sixth place behind Haslam after scoring podium finishes at Imola, Jerez and most recently Misano. He is now the top independent rider in the 2019 championship and enters Donington with memories of a famous first career podium score at the same event last year still fresh in his memory.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) wants to make sure that he and his Ninja ZX-10RR make a strong qualifying performance before taking on the Donington triple race weekend. He is also looking to improve on his best individual race finish of the year, seventh, to help him move up from his current 12th place in the overall rankings. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) is 17th overall, and was inside the top ten in the two races he finished at Misano last time out.