The Covid-19 pandemic meant there was no British round last season but this year Jonathan and Alex will have the chance to race at a British circuit again. WorldSBK itself was born at Donington Park way back in 1988 and there can be no more appropriate circuit to host the return to race action in the UK than where it all began.
The 4.023km long circuit in the very heart of the English Midlands has witnessed five WorldSBK race wins for Rea in the past, four of them on Kawasaki machinery. Through the years Kawasaki riders have scored 18 WorldSBK Race wins at Donington, more than any other single manufacturer. The last time WorldSBK raced there Rea won all three Donington races.
After three rounds of the championship on the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Rea leads by 20 points, with Lowes fourth overall. Lowes scored three podium finishes during the opening round, while six-times champion Rea has taken nine podiums in nine 2021 season races, including four race wins.
Since the most recent race weekend, at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in mid-June, Rea and Lowes have tested at the all-new WorldSBK venue of Navarra in Spain. They approach Donington well-prepared ready to put on the best possible show for the small number of enthusiastic fans allowed into Donington this weekend.
Both Jonathan and Alex see their home round as an ideal base from which to build even more momentum to take forward into what is scheduled to be the remainder of a long 13-round/39 race season.
The layout of Donington features two strongly-contrasting sections. The first is almost exclusively compromised of medium-to-fast curves and several changes of elevation. The final Melbourne Loop section features hard braking and acceleration zones with one chicane, one right hand hairpin and one left hand hairpin leading onto the short 550m start/finish straight. Overall bike set-up is, by necessity, a balance between optimum performance in the faster and slower sections.
Unusually, there will be no WorldSSP races at Donington, nor a round of the WorldSSP300 championship. Both those classes will rejoin the WorldSBK calendar at Assen in the Netherlands between July 23-25.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really excited to go to Donington because we missed it last year. We had a great weekend there in 2019 and it is a circuit that I really enjoy riding at. From past experience it is also a good track for the Ninja ZX-10RR so I am excited to get the new and improved 2021 model there. Our first home race in two years and we will have some fans trackside, which is nice, although it would have been good to have a packed Donington. There will be a bit of atmosphere there and I am looking froward to it. I hope to make a really strong weekend and work from Friday morning to understand the tyre options Pirelli has brought, and we will continue to fine-tune our bike to be ready for the races. At the recent Navarra test we tried some chassis options and we have a great understanding of the working window of the bike, so we have options should we face some limitations. I feel we really understood how we could get the bike to turn better and that will help us in some sections at Donington.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It is great that we are heading back to the UK round of WorldSBK after missing it last year because of the Covid-19 situation. There will not be as many fans as we would like, due to the limitations that have been put in place, but it will be great to be riding in front of the British fans again. Coming up through the BSB series I feel a really good and close relationship with the fans here. That is going to be one of the main things that is going to be really enjoyable. The second thing is that I like the track, it has always been a fun track for me, and I have taken some good results there. On top of that the Kawasaki - looking back - has always gone quite well there. This will be my first time trying the Ninja ZX-10RR at Donington and I am excited about it. It is a track that looks like it works well for the bike. Kawasaki has won plenty of races there and the target for me is to get back on the podium. We had solid second and third rounds of the championship, but maybe the higher temperatures and some track layouts did not quite suit the bike quite as well as some others. So, the target is clear for this weekend. Get back on the podium like we started the year in Aragon and enjoy the whole weekend in front of the home fans.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) will ride their Ninja ZX-10RR machines for the first time at Donington, in what is a rookie WorldSBK season for both former WorldSSP riders. Thus far Mahias is the highest-ranked Kawasaki rider in the Independent Riders’ championship standings, in fourth place. He is 13th in the overall championship table. Vinales is 19th overall.
Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) will take on Donington for the first time in his new role as full-time WorldSBK rider. Local rider Luke Mossey will ride the second TPR Outdo Kawasaki at his home circuit of Donington, as he replaces the outgoing Samuele Cavalieri for this round.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 9, Wins 4, Podiums 9, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 103 (88 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 194 (152 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 30 (26 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 9, Wins 0, Podiums 3, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 27 (7 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
8 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
6 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 162 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 466 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 95 – second overall