Once again, the UK Round will be held at Donington Park, one of the most classic circuits on the WorldSBK calendar. Located in the heart of England, in Donington we can find one of the most authentic atmospheres of the entire World Championship, as well as various attractions in the surrounding area.
WorldSBK at Donington Park
Donington Park can be said to be the spiritual home of WorldSBK, or at least the place where it was born. And the first Round in SBK history was held on this circuit on April 3, 1988. Davide Tardozzi for Bimota and Marco Lucchinelli with Ducati were the first winners of the championship.
From that moment until 2001, Donington Park hosted WorldSBK consecutively. Between 2001 and 2006 the UK Round was held at other tracks, but it returned to Donington in 2007 and since then it has been a fixture on the calendar with the only exceptions being 2010 and 2020, the first due to a temporary closure of the circuit and the second due to the global pandemic by Covid-19.
Donington Park occupies an illustrious place in the history of British motor sport. In 1931, races were held in the park for the first time, taking advantage of the existing interior roads. In 1933, a permanent route was built in the same place as the current one and with a very similar silhouette. It was the second permanent circuit in the United Kingdom, after the pioneering Brooklands. But in 1939, the circuit was closed due to the outbreak of World War II and fell into oblivion in the post-war period.
It would not be until 1977 when businessman and car collector Tom Wheatcroft rescued the Donington Park circuit, giving it its current shape. Until 1985, the Melbourne Hairpin section did not exist, so the final corner was the Goddards chicane. The following year this section was created, taking the circuit to the current 4,020 kilometers in length; Since then Donington Park has not changed its layout. Curiously, in its first contest, WorldSBK competed on the 'national' layout without the Melbourne loop.
Donington Park SBK: one circuit, two characters
Thanks to its location and age, Doninton Park is a quite particular and unique circuit. With two well-differentiated parts, the route combines very fluid first sectors with the descent of the Craner Curves towards Old Hairpin and the climb to McLean's and Coppice. This part is for the pilots, since the changes in elevation and direction create a very technical and high-adrenaline part where it is even possible to overtake using alternative routes.
After that, the pilots enter Starkey's Straight. Although the straight is not very long, it is important to start with good traction towards it, since next comes one of the key points to overtake: the Fogarty Esses. This chicane inaugurates the 'stop-and-go' section of the circuit that gives it its other character. Melbourne Hairpin and Goddards are the other two excellent overtaking points where so many races have been decided and the best brakes have a lot to gain.
Activities at Donington Park SBK
The atmosphere in Donington is unique. The British fans are very passionate and very knowledgeable. In addition, Superbikes are immensely popular on the islands and it is the home race for many riders: Jonathan Rea, Scott Redding, Alex Lowes... and also many technicians and World Championship personnel.
For this reason, it is one of the most atmospheric Rounds in the paddock, always lively thanks to the large number of activities on the Paddock Show stage. A Donington classic is taking part in the ‘Two Wheels for Live’ charity auction, which also includes a concert for the drivers! Fortunately, if your recital does not convince, there are also concerts later to continue enlivening the afternoon.
A curious activity that we find in Donington is the space for archery and ax shooting; It is free and very fun. The product market is also well known, with a multitude of stands selling everything related to two wheels, from motorcycle accessories and equipment, to vehicles on display. And yes, of course: you can find all the official merchandising in the WorldSBK store!
Donington is also one of the circuits that organizes a camping area within the circuit itself, so the atmosphere is guaranteed all day… and night.
Visiting Nottingham and Leicester during UK WorldSBK
If we want to go off the beaten track, the area around Donington Park offers us various cities where we can get to know the most authentic England.
Donington is located in the county of Leicestershire, although it practically borders Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, so it is possible to visit the three capital cities of each of these counties without going too far from the route.
Nottingham offers many places to visit, from the central Old Market Square, through King Street. There are numerous Gothic revival and Victorian buildings, but also several inns and pubs dating back to medieval times. Wollaton Hall and its gardens are a perfect place for a walk. But perhaps one of the most curious places to visit is the City of Caves, a cave complex that was once inhabited or that housed dyeing workshops and other activities.
Obviously, Nottingham is known worldwide for the legend of Robin Hood. The famous Sheerwood Forest is located about 30 kilometers north and can be visited, but statues of the famous archer can be found throughout Nottinghamshire.
Just over 10km south, within the county of Leicestershire, is the village of Ashby de la Zouch. Here we can see the remains of an immense castle that played a key role in various moments in the history of England, as it appeared in the famous novel 'Ivanhoe' by Walter Scott. In Ashby we can also visit the Moira Furnance Museum, which will reveal the industrial past of the region, as well as take a boat ride along one of the country's numerous inland canals.
It should be mentioned that Stilton blue cheese, perhaps the most famous of its kind in the United Kingdom, is typical of both Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire; a good opportunity to try it.
WorldSBK Donington by plane: Birmingham
If you arrive by plane to the UK Round, it is likely that our arrival airport will be Birmingham, as it is located just 45 minutes from the circuit.
Currently, Birmingham is experiencing a new splendor after its past as an industrial city, and has become a vibrant metropolis; It is said to be 'the second city' of the United Kingdom after London, in dispute with Manchester and Liverpool. As in these two, the music scene is also important, being a national reference in jazz and also an epicenter of the birth of heavy metal and hard rock, with members of bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Led Zeppelin coming from the city.
The city contains a mandatory stop for every biker: the National Motorcycle Museum. With a large collection of more than 1,000 motorcycles on display from every period imaginable, the museum brings together the history of the British industry, a leader in the sector for almost 60 years. We will find everything from the most popular models from brands such as Norton or Triumph to rarities in the form of prototypes that never went on sale or exclusive models.