Honda WorldSBK Team’s Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark are ready to tackle the seventh round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship, which takes place this weekend at Donington Park. The circuit, located in the heart of UK on the border between Leicestershire and Derbyshire, hosted the very first event of the series back in 1988; this year will be the twenty-fourth time that World Superbike racing has been staged at this iconic venue.
Two weekends ago, Nicky Hayden claimed his maiden WorldSBK win after what was a perfect display of riding skills and race craft in wet conditions at the Sepang International Circuit in race two. He is now looking forward to riding again at Donington Park for the first time since 2009, when MotoGP had its last event at the track. His best result around East Midland’s hills is a fourth place scored in 2004. With the great feeling shown onboard his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP #69 in Malaysia, Nicky is eager to keep the momentum going as the season reaches its halfway point.
Michael van der Mark has had contrasting fortunes at Donington Park in recent years. He was victorious in World Supersport 2014 in a close last-lap battle with title rival Jules Cluzel, while in his debut World Superbike year last season he had to pull out from both races. The 23-year-old Dutchman is aiming to return to his early-season form, which saw him on the rostrum three times in the first four races, and to improve on his current tally of four podium finishes in 2016.
Nicky Hayden 69
We obviously come from a good result in Sepang but that’s old news now. We are now fully focused on Donington and on the races ahead, and we hope to be as competitive as we were in Malaysia in both dry and wet conditions, because I felt really great on the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP last time out. I raced at Donington in the early years of my MotoGP career and, apart from a small modification to the Fogarty Esses, the track is basically the same. I hope we’ll get a good start on Friday, prepare well for the two races ahead and then see what we can do. With all the British presence in the series in terms of riders and teams, I’m looking forward to a great atmosphere there.
Michael van der Mark 60
After the Sepang round I was of course far from happy with our results, especially as I know how competitive we can be. The plan is therefore to make sure we get back to the same level as we were in the first two rounds and get the best out of my Fireblade again. I really enjoy riding at Donington Park and have good memories from 2014; it is a very technical track with a great mix of everything. It’s a very different circuit compared to Sepang, but I’m looking forward to this new challenge and hope for a couple of good results in front of the British crowd.
We’re heading to Donington Park in confident mood after Nicky’s brilliant race win in Sepang and the great speed shown there in the dry during practice, which emphasises once again the improvements we have made to the Honda CBR1000RR so far this year. We made big steps forward in terms of acceleration out of slow corners and this will be very important in order to attack the last sector of the track harder, where we struggled a bit last year. The weather will surely be a big factor, as always in the UK, but we are ready for it. I think both riders can aim for top-5 results and we will put them in the best conditions to challenge for the podium.