In the sixth round of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Donington Park, Alvaro Bautista of Aruba.it Racing – Ducati extended his lead in the championship with two wins. However, Toprak Razgatlioglu [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK] put up a strong fight in the Superpole Race to end Bautista’s winning streak. Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK also made headlines by achieving his 250th podium in WorldSBK, while Danilo Petrucci of Barni Spark Racing Team secured his team’s first podium in five years in Race 2 – Donington Park really had it all!
In Race 1, Bautista secured his 11th consecutive victory, breaking Ducati’s winless streak at Donington Park. The Ducati rider’s pace was shown two laps later when he set a 1’26.610s to break his own lap record with the gap up to 1.200s at the start of Lap 15. A lap later, he went a tenth quicker as he showed his consistency. He was the only rider to lap in the 1’26s bracket at this stage of the race with Razgatlioglu and Rea dropping into the 1’27s. While Bautista and Razgatlioglu had their places secured, Rea had to fight Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) for third place. The rookie had been just behind the lead group, but his late-race pace allowed him to pass Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on Lap 16 at the Foggy Esses before chasing down Rea for third although Rea was able to manage the gap throughout the final laps to secure third.
Bautista’s win not only ended Ducati’s 12-year wait for a victory at Donington Park but also extended his championship lead. Razgatlioglu’s second-place finish brought him closer to his 100th WorldSBK podium, while Rea achieved his 250th podium.
Remy Gardner, the 2021 Moto2™ World Champion, faced a tough battle in Race 1 as he fought to secure a place in the top ten. With Xavi Vierge [Team HRC] charging behind him, Gardner had to display his skill and determination to defend his position. The Australian rider showcased his racing prowess, managing to hold off Vierge by a mere 0.106 seconds, ensuring his spot in the top ten. It was a commendable performance from Gardner, who continued to make his mark in the World Superbike Championship.
Remy Gardner: “Yeah today was tough day for me, not a good qualifying at all and it was our worst qualifying of the year. It was not easy because it was the first time I had dryer conditions and unfortunately it was difficult to qualify when you don’t understand the track too well. But in the race, we made important changes and myself I made some good changes throughout the race to adapt to the track. I was really quite happy with my pace towards the end of the race and I am looking forward to Race 2 and hopefully we can improve on this feeling again.”
In Race 2, Bautista faced tough competition from Razgatlioglu in a shortened and red-flagged race. The race was stopped after a crash involving Tom Sykes, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, and Loris Baz. Bautista initially took the lead, but Rea briefly challenged him before Razgatlioglu overtook Rea. Bautista recovered from a few mistakes to regain the lead and secure his second victory at Donington Park, with Razgatlioglu finishing second.
With Rea dropping back from the lead pair, the battle for the podium heated up. Rea was initially under pressure from teammate Alex Lowes but, as the race progressed, other riders were joining the party. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) started from the second row but his pace, like in Race 1, allowed him to fight for the podium as he did in Race 1. He moved into fifth place by passing Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) on Lap 15 at Turn 11 before moving into fourth by overtaking Lowes at Turn 9 two laps later. The Italian rookie’s crucial move for the podium came on Lap 18 when he overtook Rea at Turn 4 before he pulled a gap to take his maiden WorldSBK rostrum and Barni Ducati’s first since Argentina 2018. He also became the 129th different rider to stand on the podium.
Bautista’s win means he is now only one shy of record victories in a season with 16 in 2023, with the all-time record standing at 17. He has also gone level with Colin Edwards and Marco Melandri with 75 podiums. Razgatlioglu is closing in on a century of podiums and now has 99, putting him level with Chaz Davies.
In Race 2, Remy Gardner, representing the GRT Yamaha squad, faced a more challenging weekend than usual. Nevertheless, he showcased his resilience and determination as he battled for a strong finish. Gardner’s teammate, Dominique Aegerter, finished just outside the top ten in 11th place, and Gardner followed closely behind, securing 12th place.
As the race unfolded, Gardner found himself engaged in a scrap with other riders. Home hero Bradley Ray of Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team joined the battle, along with Iker Lecuona of Team HRC. Gardner, Ray, and Lecuona fought fiercely for positions, exchanging overtakes and defending their spots on the track. Ultimately, Gardner’s determination and skill paid off as he secured his position ahead of Ray and Lecuona.
With his impressive performance, Remy Gardner proved once again that he is a force to be reckoned with in the World Superbike Championship. Despite the challenges faced over the weekend, Gardner’s unwavering focus and tenacity allowed him to showcase his potential on the track. As the season progresses, fans and competitors alike will continue to keep a close eye on this talented Australian rider, eagerly anticipating his future achievements in the World Superbike Championship.
Remy Gardner: “Yeah, it has been a tough weekend, but we learnt a lot that’s for sure. I’m happy with the progress we made technically this weekend, but I struggled not knowing the track and with our difficult qualifying, it was always going to be a difficult race. But we improved every time we went on the track, and I must be happy with this but anyway, we now look forward to our next race.”