Donington Park Racing Review 2013
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:00 26 February 2014
Geoff Ford looks at local success on the circuit
Derby based twins Alex and Sam Lowes scored a magnificent two-wheeled championship double in 2013 and delighted home fans with victories at Donington Park along the way. Alex took the British Superbike title while Sam won the Supersport championship on the World Superbike support card.
Leon Haslam was the focus of attention in the build-up to the Donington round of World Superbikes in May, as he recovered from a shattered left leg after a practice crash at Assen in Holland, just four weeks earlier. With his leg pinned, Leon bravely qualified his Pata Honda but on race day the team took the decision that he should rest until the following round in Portimao. ‘I’ve been working really hard to ride at Donington,’ Leon told Derbyshire Life, ‘but I was in a lot of pain and the result wouldn’t have been that great. It was a good call by the guys, but I wanted to be out there in front of the home crowd.’ Leon completed the season in 13th place. Yorkshire’s Tom Sykes scored his first WSB double victory ahead of Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli in race 1 and Guintoli and Eugene Laverty in the second race. ‘To win both races is truly magical,’ grinned the jubilant Sykes, ‘but the real joy comes from doing my first WSB double – especially at Donington.’ Sykes went on to take the title, on his Kawasaki ZX-10R, ahead of Eugene Laverty.
A year on from his maiden World Supersport victory at Donington, Sam Lowes was impressive in taking a third consecutive race victory on his Yakhnich Yamaha. Lowes passed Florian Marino for the lead on lap 1 before putting a second-a-lap between himself and the field, eventually coming home 11 seconds ahead of World Champion Kenan Sofouglu. Lowes notched up eight poles for the season, seven fastest laps and six victories as he clinched the title with a round to go. Sofoglu finished some 49 points behind. Alex Lowes completed a double race victory, when the British Superbike Championship visited in September, to close in on three-time champion Shane Byrne. Alex arrived for the final meeting at Brands Hatch just one point behind Byrne, but two second places on his Samsung Honda was enough to make Alex Lowes, at 23, the youngest ever British Superbike champion. Derby’s Jon Kirkham finished the season in seventh place.
On four wheels Andrew Jordan took his first British Touring Car Championship win of the year in the second of three races at Donington in April. The 24-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield, went on to a further five wins and a consistent supply of points in other races to land his first title. He had arrived for the season finale at Brands Hatch with a healthy 34 point lead but when his Honda Civic collided with Matt Neal’s Honda, in a wet race 2, he retired with broken suspension. Jason Plato’s victory reduced the lead to 15 points and Jordan had to start the final race from the back of the grid. Despite trying conditions Jordan worked his way to ninth, taking the title nine points ahead of the race winner, the out-going champion, Gordon Shedden.
Hathersage-based motor racing team Hillspeed, which in past years has won championship titles in each of the categories it has contested – Formula Renault BARC, Ginetta Junior and ARP Formula 3 – continued its success into 2013. At the final event of the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series at Brands Hatch, newcomer to the team Kieran Vernon claimed his maiden victory while Jake Cook, after two third places and a brace of top four results, deservingly ended the Winter Series as Vice-Champion. The team’s third driver, Dimitris Papanastasiou, finished ninth in the driver standings.