A third “Home Race” in addition to the championship’s two Italian rounds in Misano and Imola, not far from Yamaha Motor Europe’s Research & Development facility near Milan, the Crescent-operated official Yamaha WorldSBK crew are hoping for the same kind of success that they have enjoyed at Donington in recent years.
The site of Yamaha’s first win since returning to WorldSBK competition in 2018, a superb double victory, was followed by another double at the hands of Razgatlıoğlu in 2021 – and a “lap of the gods” in drying conditions that saw the Turkish ace go from 13th on the grid to second place in half a lap before delivering victory in Race 1. But it was 2022 that man and R1 WorldSBK machine achieved perfect harmony: Yamaha and Razgatlıoğlu’s first “triple” of decisive wins in all three races.
But is Donington Park still the same Donington of old? The first major work completed in more than 20 years includes full resurfacing, a slight reduction in the circuit’s quirky undulations and changes to increase corner camber, which the WorldSBK field will have the first chance to see on Thursday during their “track walk” and at speed for the first time on Friday morning in Free Practice.
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK’s #55 rider Locatelli is determined to return to early 2023 form which saw him firmly grab on to third place in the championship standings behind Razgatlıoğlu. To do so, he’ll have to master Donington much like his teammate has in the past.
It’s a tricky combination track as #54 Crew Chief Phil Marron explains, where the first two-thirds of the circuit requires a bike with good natural turning using the throttle and some spin in the traction control settings – but the final third is more of a stop-go affair, demanding a chassis setting which offers enough support to allow aggressive braking and agile turning.