WorldSBK’s media day in the United Kingdom meant there’s no such thing of enjoying silence, and we just can’t get enough of straight-talking wagging tongues ahead of action igniting
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s media day on Thursday at the Donington Park circuit in England, UK, was a hive of activity. Situated in the rolling hills of the English countryside and a stone’s throw from the historic city of Nottingham, it’s back to WorldSBK’s roots, as it was the first track we ever visited in 1988.
However, 35 years later, strong declarations continue off-track as well as on it. From this part of England, Robin Hood – as legend has it – was the highly skilled archer and swordsman, but who will hit the target of their battles this weekend?
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I’m full of optimism… we were able to understand new items”
“I’m full of optimism; we’ve had good results at Donington Park in the past and coming here after a test last week at Aragon, where we were able to understand some new items and keep working on our pace in the hotter conditions. I’m looking forward to the weekend, they’ve resurfaced the circuit which could throw some curveballs. It sounds like the grip level is very high but the surface is also very abrasive, but we’ll work like normal on Friday. We’ve always been able to get away with the softer tyre here at Donington Park with the SCQ and SCX but we need to understand tyre choice too. It’ll be a busy day tomorrow. The test was split in two parts; we tried some new electronics items that we can use straight away and other items that we might not see but can be used by KMC to develop in the future. Alex has been an amazing teammate, we’ve battled on track very hard – recently at Mandalika – and he always gives 110%. He’s a great team player and the atmosphere is good. For me, it was normal that he continues and it’s nice now it is official.”
Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “Time is running out on what I will do”
“Last year, Donington Park was good for me and in the past, it’s been a great place to come. I always enjoy coming here in front of the home fans. I’d like to think we can be better here, but the new track surface has a play in it. We need to put our feet back on the ground and understand where we are, where we’re going and what we’re doing. If the circuit has the history it had, it should favour us, which would be nice. But this year, the level has stepped up a little bit and we’ve struggled to make that next little step. Here’s a bit of a reset for us, we can start with a fresh feeling.
“With 2024, there’s no news for what’s going on, I just want to focus on what I’m doing this weekend. We’ll see after here a bit more what’s going on, but time is running out on what I will do. You have to keep waiting for the moment. My priority is to continue in World Superbike but I’m looking in every area and at every option, like a lot of riders do, whether that’s here or somewhere else. I would like to continue with BMW, that is more of a priority that I have. I feel like we can make it happen but it’s a hard time for me to be thinking about what the potential is. I need to believe in the project like they’ve believed in me, and I just think that this weekend, having a reset and regroup and to understand a bit more, will help me make some decisions for the future.”
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “From my first time here 20 years ago, I loved it”
“We arrive at Donington Park and maybe it’s been a difficult race for us in the past. Every year is different, and anything can happen. I’m looking forward to this weekend. The track has been resurfaced; the layout is amazing; it’s one of the best tracks in the world. From my first time here 20 years ago, I loved it. It’s a track that with Ducati, I’ve never enjoyed as others, I look forward to trying to have a good feeling that we had in the first rounds of the season. The test was two days with a lot of fun on the bike. I had really good feedback and I could adapt very quickly to a MotoGP™ style with the engine, the power, the brakes, the tyres and the frames; they’re very different to WorldSBK. The feeling with bike was really good. At the moment, there is no plan for the future. I’ve requested that Ducati change some items on the bike specifically for my ergonomics because I felt the bike was a bit big for me. I don’t know if Ducati made this change, but maybe we can re-test and try again to see If I can feel even better.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I’m really happy to continue with Kawasaki… there’s a lot of good things coming”
“I’m really happy to continue with Kawasaki into 2024. This season has not been as good as we wanted. Kawasaki have set themselves some pretty high standards in WorldSBK. We’ve had some big competition from the other teams in the last couple of years. We’re in the process now of trying to get back there. I was really happy with the offer from Kawasaki for one more year and it’s an easy decision to make. Although we’re not winning races, and I’ve made some mistakes this year, I’m close to Jonny and I feel like I’m riding very well and enjoying it. I’m working well with the team. It’s never 100% what it seems from the outside. There’s a lot of good things coming; we know it’s not going to be easy to turn this season around too much but it’s my home round this weekend and a perfect place to announce next year and try to challenge for the podium.”
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC): “My manager has spoken with a few teams”
“Honestly, I know my manager has spoken with a few teams or people. I don’t know anything. My manager’s coming here again to keep talking. For now, nothing is closed and I cannot say anything. I’d like to say it’ll be a bit better than last year, but the reality is we are in the same position. They resurfaced the track. I heard something that the new asphalt wears the tyres more and we have a lot of problems with this, so we need to check how we feel on the bike and how it affects tyre life.”
Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team): “We’ve been making big progress… I’m hoping we can make a real big step”
“I am super excited and looking forward to coming to Donington Park. We’ve been working in a good way with the Motoxracing team. We’ve been making some big progress so, I’m hoping, this weekend, we can make a real big step forward. I enjoy Donington and I’ve had some success here in BSB. I’ve got a lot to learn and to prove to Motoxracing and Yamaha. I want to go about my business this weekend, do the best job I can at my home round, for the fans and my family and friends that are coming. Hopefully, we can use this weekend as a steppingstone and use it to carry me on for the rest of the season.”
Tom Sykes (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “In a dream scenario, the idea would be to add to the podiums.
“I’m always excited to go racing. Coming here to Donington, it helps a little bit because I’ve had some success here in the past. It’s a home round, we’ve had some fantastic weather and hopefully if that continues, we’ll be in for a great weekend. The circuit’s been resurfaced so it’ll be interesting to see the lap times. My target is to add to the success. That would be plan A. In a dream scenario, the idea would be to add to the podiums. That’s the target and we’ll work towards it. The lap times are certainly much faster. We’ve all been having a little prediction for the WorldSBK riders and if we’re getting around in the prediction times, it’s going to be fast!” – www.worldsbk.com