Castrol Honda World Superbike team returns to Donington Park

World Superbike: The Castrol Honda World Superbike team heads to Donington Park in the UK this weekend (25-27 March) for round two – the European round – of the 2011 World Superbike championship.

world superbike, 2011 world superbike, 2011 donington world supebikeThe series returns to the 4.023km (2.5 mile) circuit near Derby in the heart of England after an absence of one year. Both races at the last visit were won by eventual 2009 World Superbike champion Ben Spies.

Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea is familiar with the circuit having raced in British championships before joining the World Supersport series in 2008, but the 24-year-old Ulsterman did not enjoy great success at Donington last time out – finishing seventh and 15th in the two outings.

Rea suffered in a number of crashes at the first round of the 2011 series, which took place four weeks ago at Phillip Island in Australia. Despite qualifying in 12th place, he battled for podium positions in both races and left Australia in sixth place in the championship.

His Castrol Honda team-mate, Ruben Xaus, had similar results to Rea in his last visit to Donington Park in 2009 – 15th and ninth – but the Spaniard is looking forward to a better return with his new team on board the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.

Xaus spent much of the first round seeking a base setting for his machine after bad weather affected much of the team’s pre-season testing programme. He and his crew found a breakthrough in race two at Phillip Island, giving Xaus a top ten finish after starting from 16th on the grid.

Jonathan Rea:
I’m in pretty good shape after quite a painful start to the season in Australia, but I’ve spent the last three weeks working hard on my training and having a lot of physio. I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to ride pain-free at the weekend but the strange thing is that I wasn’t too uncomfortable on the bike in Australia, despite the injuries – it was the aches and pains getting out of bed in the morning that I struggled with! I’m looking forward to getting to Donington though; it’s a circuit I know really well and we have some good data from before. I can’t wait to see the new layout of the chicane and it’s really good to have the first European round at home where a lot of my friends and family can come and support. To improve what’s already a great all-round package, the guys back at the workshop have found some things to get a little more out of the Fireblade since we got back so I’m hoping for a really good weekend.

Ruben Xaus:
Of course, the time we spent in Australia was like our pre-season testing because it was the first time that I had any dry time on the CBR. We had to go through a lot of things and try various settings to find a good direction and the right balance for the bike. It came quite late, but we found it for race two when I was able really to ride the bike for the first time. It was a great step forward and, if I hadn’t overshot the first corner a little, I think I would have finished even higher. It gives me great confidence for the trip to Donington Park, which is a good, traditional circuit and one I like to ride very much, especially the main part which is fast and flows very nicely. We have a lot of British riders in the championship again this year, so they will all want to do well there, which gives a lot of motivation for everyone else, too!

Ronald ten Kate – team manager:
Well, we didn’t really get the start that we’d hoped for in Australia but at least Jonathan was able to limit the damage by riding really well for some valuable points. He’s been able to recover fully now so at Donington we will be able to get a true picture of where we are. Ruben’s time during his first race with the team was spent looking for that important base setting to maximise the CBR’s mix of power and agility and we were able to find that for him in race two, so he will start at Donington from a better position. A lot of people have been talking about the temperature there but we can only see what things are like on Friday and make a judgement then. The forecast at the moment is for dry weather and even some sun, so I hope we can put on a really good show for the enthusiastic British crowd.

Donington Park World Superbike – schedule (local times):

Friday 25 March
12.45    Free practice (60 min)
15.45    Qualifying practice (60 min)

Saturday 26 March
10.45    Qualifying practice (45 min)
13.50    Free practice (45 min)
15.00    Superpole 1 (14 min)
15.21    Superpole 2 (12 min)
15.40    Superpole 3 (10 min)

Sunday 27 March
09.20    Warm-up (20 min)
12.00    Race 1 (23 laps – 92.529km)
15.30    Race 2 (23 laps – 92.529km)

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