Last updated: July 10th, 2023
WSBK Weekend Takeover: Wrap-up
This past weekend, we had the opportunity to be part of the WSBK championship at Donington. Going behind the scenes with our RST factory riders. It was a heck of a weekend, filled with thrilling races and captivating storylines. Read on for full details.
This past weekend, we headed to Donington Park for the highly-anticipated home round of the World SBK championship. It was an event that saw our RST factory riders competing across multiple classes. Kawasaki Racing Team rider Alex Lowes in the superbikes, Dutch sensation Glenn Van Straalen in the supersport class and Richard Cooper, Dom Herbertson, and Al Fagan in the BMW F900 R Cup.
We arrived early on Saturday morning, ensuring we didn't miss a moment of the intense racing that unfolded. From the initial race to the climactic final superbike event on Sunday, the weekend was filled with un-relenting action.
The first race day of the weekend saw 2 superpole sessions (World SBK and World SSP), 2 heats in the BMW F900 R Cup and 2 races to finish - WSBK Race 1 and World Supersport Race 1.
In the first Superpole session it was the turn of the Supersport class, and with this came another solid display from Nicolo Bulega on his Aruba.it Ducati, finishing 0.209 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. Yari Montella and Stefano Manzi rounded out the top 3. For our RST factory riders Glenn Van Straalen had another decent showing as he placed 7th.
For Race 1 it was Nicolo Bulega on top spot, Stefano Manzi 2nd and Yari Montella 3rd. After some great racing, and one hell of a battle for 5th, 6th and 7th spots - Glenn Van Straalen was able to emerge top of th pack in 5th place, after a final corner incident involving Marcel Schroetter and Valentin Debise gifted Glenn the position.
Saturday's SBK superpole saw 2 of the big 3 (Bautista, Razgatlioglu, Rea) in the first 2 spots, with Jonathan Rea claiming 1st - 0.068s ahead of Alvaro Bautista. Danilo Petrucci was the surprise of the session as he managed to break up the big 3's dominance, as he claimed 3rd ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu who rode his Yamaha R1 to 4th.
RST's Alex Lowes was next best as he took 5th with a time of 1'26.422 only 0.3s off pole position. Alex's session was also disrupted as he hit some debris on his final flying lap, else, we could well have seen him claim a front-row spot.
Race 1 around with hopes from the home crowd that one of the Alex might be able to take it to the big 3, and potentially claim another podium finish at Donington. Unfortunately, as has been the case in recent years, the Rea, Bautista, Toprak trifecta proved why they are so revered in the paddock, with another top-3 lockout. It was Bautista taking top spot, his first ever win on the Ducati at Donington Park, Toprak was 3.7 seconds back, with Rea a further 3 seconds off Razgatlioglu.
Alex's race seemed to be a tail of tyre management, with the new Donington Park surface playing havoc on his rear Pirelli. Starting in 5th, he managed to wrestle his ZX10r to a 6th place finish.
BMW F900 R Cup
Although there were 2 heats on Saturday, all 3 of our factory riders were in the same one, which made for easy viewing. It was FHO Racing star Richard Cooper who continued his dominance of the championship with another win. A little further back, Dom Herbertson and Al Fagan were battling each other for 5 and 6 position. In the end it was 'Dom the Bomb' who came out on top to claim P5, with Al Fagan a respectable 6th. All 3 progressing to Sunday's race.
Sunday's schedule comprised of 1 race in each of the 3 classes, preceded by the 10-lap Superpole race in the WSBK class.
The Superpole race kicked things off on Sunday, the 10-lap sprint format always seems to create dramatic racing, and this was no different.
It was a victory for Razgatlioglu, Bautista in 2nd and Jonathan Rea in third. This didn't tell the whole story though, as Rea had lead from early on, however the Kawasaki ZX10r wasn't able to manage the tyre wear and a lack of grip in the final lap caused him to drop 2 spots by the end of the race. The narrative was much the same for Rea's teammate - Alex Lowes, who had put in a very strong performance for 9 laps - gaining positions and producing some spectacular overtakes - unfortunately, the home crowd favourite was ultimately foiled by the lack of grip on the rear tyre, and as the rubber wore away on the final few corners he was overtaken by Andrea Locatelli and Danilo Petrucci.
For Race 2, the weekend's finale - it was again a victory for Alvaro Bautista completing the double for the full-distance races, and continuing to increase his lead and dominance of this years championship. The top-3 had a slightly different feel to it though with Toprak 2nd and Danilo Petrucci 3rd. This was Petrucci's 1st podium in the WSBK class and coming on the 'independent' Barni Racing team Ducati.
A massive 3-rider crash on lap one meant that the race had to be restarted, shortening the race to 22 laps - thankfully all riders involved
As had been the case throughout the weekend, tyre wear was the problem for the Kawasaki Racing Team riders, with Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes losing positions in the final laps of the race, eventually finishing 5th and 6th respectively.
Sunday's Supersport was sandwiched between the WSBK action, but that didn't take away from the quality of racing.
It was Nicolo Bulega who continued his 2023 championship master-class, finishing 2.1 seconds clear of Yari Montella with the podium rounded out by Federico Caricasulo. RST's Glenn Van Straalen, starting in 7th unfortunately suffered an issue with his Yamaha R6's launch control system, causing him to lose drive from the start line and drop back to 14th.
The young dutchman showed his speed and determination in the remainder of the race, fighting his back to a 10th place finish. This result puts Glenn in 6th place in the championship.
BMW F900 R Cup
In the main race on Sunday, it was another strong performance from Coopes, who continued his 100% winning record in the championship - the FHO rider had started in pole position and had maintained this position throughout the race. Congratulations to Richard on another victory!
Dom Herbertson had a solid performance, after a 10th place start - improving 1 spot for a 9th place finish, whilst Al Fagan started 12th and maintained that until the finish.
Thanks to all those who followed along with the content this weekend, thanks to all our RST factory riders for being involved and thanks to the teams that allowed us the behind the scenes access.
We look forward to seeing all of you at the next one.