WorldSBK Donington: WorldSSP race preview

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Picture: GeeBee Images

After two years away, WorldSSP returns to the UK set to ignite at the historic Donington Park for the first time since 2019.

A three-year absence for the FIM Supersport World Championship will end with the Prosecco DOC UK Round, as the championship returns to the iconic British circuit for the first time since 2019. It presents a different situation with only a handful of riders on the entry list having raced WorldSSP at Donington Park in the past and only one previous winner on the grid. With Ten Kate Yamaha’s Dominique Aegerter stretching away, will he be reeled back in this weekend?

Reigning champion Aegerter holds a 54-point lead in the title standings but will tackle Donington for the first time on his Yamaha YZF R6 machine, although the Swiss rider raced there in 2009 in the 125cc World Championship. His main challenger, Evan Bros. Yamaha’s Lorenzo Baldassarri lies second in the championship ahead of Aruba.it Ducati’s Nicolo Bulega; both of whom will make their first appearance at the Derby track. They were both in the battle for victory last time out at Misano, with both bidding to do the same on British soil this time around.

GMT94 Yamaha’s Jules Cluzel is the rider with the most championship experience at this venue and his record at Donington is remarkable: six podiums in seven WorldSSP races between 2012 and 2019, while in 2013 he scored two ninth place finishes in WorldSBK. Cluzel has endured a difficult start to the season and sits 12th in the standings but will be hoping his experience at the circuit can help push him up the order, especially as he is the most recent winner back in 2019.

Two more riders on the grid have taken WorldSSP podiums in the East Midlands, with Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) claiming second in 2019 and Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac VerdNatura) third one year before.

Kawasaki Puccetti’s Can Öncü currently sits fourth in the standings and will be hoping he can cut the gap to the top three over the course of the Prosecco DOC UK Round, with the Turkish star currently 24 points behind Bulega. Öncü has a 17-point advantage over 2022 revelation Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team), whilst the Dutchman is only one point ahead over Öncü’s teammate, Yari Montella. Van Straalen raced at Donington back in 2019, finishing 16th, while the Puccetti pair will take part in their first race at the British venue, a quirky circuit that they’ll need to get up to speed with straight away.

Triumph made their return to WorldSSP in 2022 and will compete at their home round for the first time since 2018 - when Stefan Hill finished 17th. In 2022, both Dynavolt Triumph riders are inside the top ten of the standings, with Stefano Manzi seventh and teammate Hannes Soomer ninth. Soomer took part in a Donington track day between the Emilia-Romagna and UK Rounds, so will this help in the team’s search for a first podium of 2022? There are two British riders racing full-time in WorldSSP this season, with Kyle Smith (VFT Racing) and Tom Booth-Amos (Prodina Racing) both looking for strong results on home soil; although Booth-Amos will need to pass a medical check before competing.

There will be two wildcard riders on the grid for the UK Round. Harry Truelove (ColinAppleyard/Macadam-Yamaha) will compete on a YZF R6 for his first WorldSSP outing, having raced in the British championship. Simon Jespersen (CM Racing) will return to the class after numerous stand-in appearances throughout 2021 and 2022. The UK Round, however, will be his first time competing on the Ducati Panigale V2. Niki Tuuli’s return to action on the MV Agusta following surgery will not occur at Donington, with the Finn once again replaced by Mattia Casadei. One rider to also watch is Ben Currie (Motozoo by Puccetti Racing), with the Australian achieving an emphatic double at Donington Park in British Supersport in 2018.