Donington Park. The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team once again had cause to celebrate at Donington Park (GBR). In Saturday’s Superpole qualifying, Tom Sykes (GBR) secured the first pole position for the new BMW S 1000 RR in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). He then finished runner-up in the afternoon’s opening race, claiming the second WorldSBK podium for the new RR. Peter Hickman (GBR), who is standing in for Markus Reiterberger (GER) at Donington Park, finished fourth in Superpole qualifying and seventh in the race. Reiterberger was forced to pull out of this weekend’s event with a severe viral infection.
Donington Park is the venue for round eight of this season’s WorldSBK. Sykes already showed on Friday that he feels comfortable on the RR at his home circuit in Great Britain, setting the fastest time of the free practice sessions. Conditions were initially damp for Saturday’s Superpole, before the track started to dry out. Sykes secured pole position with an advantage of almost a second over Jonathan Rea (GBR / Kawasaki). This was the 49thpole position for Sykes, who holds the record for the most poles in WorldSBK. Hickman, who is familiar with the BMW S 1000 RR from the British Superbike Championship (BSB) and road racing, and knows the Donington Park circuit well, qualified fourth to secure a good starting position for race one.
The Saturday race then took place in wet conditions. Sykes was passed by Rea at the start, but his second place never looked under threat throughout the entire 23-lap race. He also set the fastest lap of the race en route to the podium. Hickman lost several positions at the start, but then found a good rhythm and rode a flawless race to cross the finish line in seventh place.
Quotes after race one at Donington Park.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It was a super Saturday at Donington Park. As early as Friday, there were signs that Tom would have a say in the battle at the front of the field. In Superpole, he gave an awesome display and the team chose a very good strategy to secure the first pole position for our new BMW S 1000 RR – and to improve his own record. In the race, he was equally impressive in taking second place. Congratulations to him on that performance. Peter also had a good Saturday. He jumped in at short notice and, even if you know the bike and the circuit, you have to earn fourth place on the grid in such a strong field. He showed his experience in the race and finished a good seventh. We have confirmed that we are moving in the right direction with our fledgling project. We are now really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “The entire team can be proud today. With Tom, we continued the good work from Misano and it was great to get the maiden pole position for the new RR. We then really would have wished to have a dry race because we felt we had the pace strong enough to be on the podium if not to win in dry conditions. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring. Tom’s confidence is getting stronger and stronger every race event we go out. So we can only expect good things to come tomorrow. Peter has never raced in these conditions with this bike so to get on and do what he did was fantastic. He uses his head very sensibly there. He took a brave decision in qualifying to go out on slicks at the very end with not many doing that and to secure fourth on the grid was fantastic. Also with P7 in the race, Peter has had a great day.”
Tom Sykes: “I am really happy. The speed has been there all weekend, certainly in dry conditions. It was just fantastic to claim pole position this morning. In the race in wet conditions, we had some limitations but it’s great to bring it home in second position. It’s still really quite incredible where we are as it is so early in the programme. Credit to the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. What they are doing is outstanding. I’m really happy to now have two podiums on two consecutive weekends. It would be nice for all guys in the garage if we could keep this momentum. As I said, we had some limitations today in the wet and we will try to improve that. In dry conditions, I feel ready to race anyway, so I am really quite relaxed at the moment and enjoy my racing.”
Peter Hickman: “I’m happy enough. The race was the first time actually for me to ride the bike in fully wet conditions so it has been a little bit of an unknown for me. It was also different for me to get used to the electronics again. I’m happy that I came away with a good and solid top ten result. The start wasn’t the best; we had a little problem at the start which put us back. If we could have gone way with the front group I maybe could have gone with them a little bit. But we’ve made some improvements, we’ve got some good data and if it rains tomorrow I’m sure we can have a good race again. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sprint race, I normally don’t do sprint races so it’s something new for me again. Obviously we will start from fourth again after today’s Superpole, which is really strong. If we get a good start and get away in that front pack, fingers crossed, we can get a strong result.”