Donington Park. Donington Park, an iconic British circuit steeped in history, once again proved to be a successful hunting ground for BMW Motorrad Motorsport in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). In the Superpole Race on Sunday morning, Scott Redding (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team claimed his first podium on the BMW M 1000 RR. Redding came home third at the end of the captivating 10-lap sprint. He was also among the leading group in both primary races, finishing fourth and fifth. Loris Baz (FRA) from the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team was ninth in all three races.
In front of more than 51,000 spectators (across the weekend), local favourite Redding showed that he had closed the gap to the front-runners as early as the practice sessions. The Brit ended Friday in third place overall. He backed this up with fourth in the Superpole qualifying on Saturday morning, securing his best starting position in the season. In the first primary race on Saturday afternoon, Redding was in contention for a spot on the podium until the closing stages before crossing the finish line in fourth place on worn tyres.
Redding again set his sights on Sunday morning’s Superpole Race podium. He climbed into third place initially and briefly gave up that position before reclaiming the third spot on the platform. It triggered grand celebrations in the garage, from which Dr Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, had followed the exciting race. In the second primary race on Sunday afternoon, Redding was running fourth until the middle before conceding a position and crossing the finish line in fifth place – just eight seconds behind winner Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR / Yamaha).
Bonovo action BMW Racing Team rider Baz bounced back after a difficult weekend in Misano (ITA). After a second place in the third free practice session, the Frenchman went into the Superpole Qualifying full of confidence. However, he crashed on the opening lap, after which the team did a fantastic job repairing the bike. It allowed Baz to set a flying lap at the end of the session and qualify 14th. The only way for Baz was up from this position on the BMW M 1000 RR. He ended all three races in ninth place to earn another three top-ten results for himself and his team.
Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR / BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Eugene Laverty (IRL / Bonovo action BMW Racing Team) endured a challenging weekend at Donington Park. Mikhalchik finished 16th in race one, narrowly missing out on the points.
He then returned 18th in the Superpole Race and crashed out of the second primary race. Laverty was struggling with pain in his arm at the weekend. He was 20th on Saturday afternoon and 23rd on Sunday morning before retiring from Sunday afternoon’s race. Wildcard starter Peter Hickman (GBR) and the FHO Racing BMW Team finished 22nd, 16th and 19th.
Round six of the 2022 WorldSBK season takes place in two weeks (29th to 31st July) in Most in the Czech Republic.
Quotes after the Donington Park races.
Dr Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad: “It was a very successful weekend here at Donington Park, and I am delighted for Scott and the whole team with the first podium of the season. Congratulations to them on this important success. It was great to be here and to see it live. This podium is just a reward for the hard work put in by everyone on the project and shows that we are gradually closing in on the front-runners. It is only possible with a great effort from everyone involved in the project, and I would like to say a big thank you for that.”
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It is great to head home with a third, fourth and fifth place in the races. That is an excellent result. We had a few new parts and tested them here a fortnight ago. The result was positive, particularly for Scott, which is very pleasing. Loris also made progress. Neither Eugene nor Ilya had the new parts yet. They were too far off the pace and did not find their way on the bike. Despite this, we will take this positive momentum into the next races and build on these results.”
Scott Redding, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 4 / R01: 4 / SP Race: 3 / R02: 5): “To get the first podium was great – it was a sprint race, but at least we got it. We were in the top three, and it wasn’t due to conditions or somebody else crashing. I had to fight for it and bite down in the helmet to dig deep over the last laps. I think we deserve it for all the hard work we have done. The guys at BMW have been working hard behind the scenes. It shows that we can do it and that motivation greatly helps the project.
To have Dr Schramm here as well was great. The weekend has been perfect, we were consistently in the top five or top six, and the gap is significantly closer, even lap by lap and then in the race. I am feeling good about the bike and how it is working. I feel like another little step came this weekend with the updated parts, even for the comfortability of me riding it. I feel like it is my bike, which is very important. I have got confidence with the front.
It has been good to back it up consistently, not just one session with the new tyre, and you’re there, and then one session you’re not. We were in a good position all the time this weekend, and we’re getting closer. Also, from race one to race two, we closed the gap a lot. It was a big step for me, and I’m happy. With where we are in the project, I always say: it’s steps.
If it’s half a second or half a tenth, if we are getting closer, we need to do this until we are there. Overall, I had a lovely weekend. It was pretty busy, having all the fans cheering and going crazy in all the races. They can see that I ride the bike hard, which I enjoy, which is another critical point for me. I am having fun, and this is what we need to do.
Loris Baz, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 14 / R01: 9 / SP Race: 9 / R02: 9): “I had to fight in all three races. After my Superpole mistake, I lost confidence but managed to finish in P9 three times. I also secured a better grid position for race two. It was not a super good weekend for me. I expected more, especially after Friday. I can be fast on one lap; I am just not on the pace consistently. So, we must understand why. We made a big step in the right direction with the BMW guys, and I am happy. It’s good to see the first podium from Scott.
As I said at the beginning, we must all focus on the same direction and push each other, which works. We all do our best, trying to work hard, so it’s good to see that it pays off. Now we know that Donington is a soundtrack for BMW, so we will see how it will be in Most, which is an entirely different track. But we made steps in the right direction, and now we look forward to the next round to make another one.”
Ilya Mikhalchik, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 18 / R01: 16 / SP Race: 18 / R02: DNF): “I came here to ride and to learn more from this championship. From that point, I certainly gathered a lot of experience again. But on the other side, I am a bit frustrated about my results, especially with my feeling about the bike. It was not so good for me; unfortunately, I could not use the strong point of my riding style, which is what I would normally do. I was riding the bike like I would on track days. But I need to leave that behind me. I can do better, ride a fast pace and fight with the top guys.”
Eugene Laverty, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 20 / R01: 20 / SP Race: 23 / R02: DNF): “From the first laps, it was a struggle. The team and I tried everything, but there was no way to make the rear tyre work this weekend. It was clear that I didn’t use any compared to the other three BMW riders when we checked the tyre consumption. With my smaller size on this track, I cannot use the rear tyre, which was the main problem all weekend. It was difficult, I am not a rider that likes to stop, but in the final race, there was no point in carrying on over the last laps as I was so far back. I did everything I could, and the team never gave up on me, but right now, it’s tough. We must regroup and look ahead to Most.”
Peter Hickman, FHO Racing BMW Team (SP: 22 / R01: 22 / SP Race: 16 / R02: 19): “Overall, it has been a perfect weekend. The whole team has come together. It has been a good team exercise to do a little bit different for all of us. It was also great for Faye Ho and the FHO Racing team to do their first international World Superbike round. To do that a year and a half after the team was born is pretty impressive. So overall, I am thrilled. We have learnt quite a lot.
Even though the electronics are very different, there is always something to take away and new to learn. So, a big thanks to the team. In the sprint race today, we had a perfect race. We managed to finish 16th. And then 19th in the final race, still an improvement on yesterday. And in both races today, we have been the third BMW home. So that’s a positive for all of us.”