Ducati wows the World Superbike crowds
With huge crowds packed into Donington Park for the UK’s sole round of the FIM World Superbike Championship Ducati topped the bill both on and off the track. Impressive performances from the ever-improving factory World Superbike team and two thundering support races from the Ducati TriOptions Cup gave fans of the Italian marque plenty to smile about this weekend.
- Pole and three top-ten finishes for the Ducati World Superbike Team
- Two thrilling TriOptions Cup races colour the meeting in Ducati red
- Ducati UK celebrates 20 years since Carl Fogarty's first WSB title
Tricky track conditions were the story of Saturday’s action, with the beautiful grid of 899 Panigale and 848 machines heading out for their qualifying session in the early morning. Spots of rain mid-way through the session brought the field in for some rapid tyre changes, and in the few minutes remaining it was reigning champion Marty Nutt that grabbed pole ahead of Sean Neary and guest rider for the weekend Luke Jones.
A blinding start from championship leader Leon Morris, who had qualified down in eighth, saw him leap up to fight for the lead in the first half of the race with front row man Neary, who is enjoying a fantastic start to his Ducati Cup season. Morris had the measure of his opposition, however, putting in some impressive times to gap the field and take his second win of the year. Neary held on to secure his first Ducati TriOptions Cup podium, while David Ferns rode an amazing second half of the race aboard his 848 to come through in third.
Morris’ pace from race one put him on pole for the second contest on Sunday afternoon, with fellow podium men Ferns and Neary completing the front row. Fully dry conditions suited guest rider Luke Jones, who is a front-runner in the highly competitive British Supersport Championship, and he grabbed the lead early on pulling a small gap to Morris. Despite a late charge from the #2 P&H/Carl Cox Motorsport bike, Jones was able to hold on to win across the line, but Morris takes maximum points and increases his impressive lead in the championship standings with what is effectively a third win of the year.
Ducati UK congratulates P&H Motorcycles who won the dealer award in both of the TriOptions Cup races. Ducati TriOptions Cup leader Morris said:
That definitely goes down as a good weekend in our book, I felt really good with the bike in wet or dry. I knew Luke (Jones) would be quick – perhaps we were naďve to think because he hadn’t ridden the bike before he wouldn’t be. In the back of mind was the knowledge that he wouldn’t score points and you need to be consistency is key with there not being that many rounds. My times were as good as they have been around here, but what is really good is that I dropped the regular boys that race in the championship. So although I didn’t get a double it is massively positive weekend for the P&H/Carl Cox Motorsport team. Guest rider Jones said:
It’s a great championship, a great bike, and always produces tight racing. I loved the bike, I’ve never been on one before but it’s lovely and easy to ride. I could still have done with a little more time to get the bike dialled in, but there’s some fast boys out there and I’m happy to come away with a win. The guys in the championship are great, it’s a friendly atmosphere, everybody helps each other and hangs out and I have really enjoyed the weekend and am honoured that Ducati asked me to ride here.”
As well as the on-track action, Donington Park also marked a special occasion for Ducati UK as it celebrates 20 years since the first World Superbike Championship victory for the legendary Carl Fogarty. Invited guests, media and dedicated fans packed out the hospitality unit for a special dinner on Saturday night compered by Eurosport presenter Matt Roberts and featuring interviews with both current WSB riders, team principal Ernesto Marinelli and of course, Foggy himself.
Fans at the circuit were then treated to a special parade of Donington Park by Fogarty himself, who donned his red racing leathers to pilot a stunning 899 Panigale that bore his 1994 championship winning livery. Four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty said:
“From the very beginning of my WSB career I thought that with the right bike I’d be able to beat the top guys – and the Ducati turned out to be the right bike! In 1993 I was new – I’d been put on a factory Ducati and I crashed it a lot, but I still managed to win 11 races. Then in ’94 with the new 916, I really believed I’d win it right from the start. Ever since then, the two names – Carl Fogarty and Ducati – just go together and no matter what, they won’t ever be separated. I’d like to thank all the guys at Ducati UK for putting the evening together and for everyone who’s come out to celebrate with us.”