Jonathan Rea dismayed by crowd limits at Donington but ready to shine

Jonathan Rea will be bidding to return to the top step of the rostrum as the World Superbike Championship returns to Donington Park this weekend.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:32 pm

The British round was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic but makes a welcome return to the calendar, when a limited number of 4,000 fans will be in attendance.

Rea has expressed his disappointment that motorcycle events in England, such as this weekend’s WSBK round and the first British Superbike meeting at Oulton Park at the weekend, have been subject to tight controls on spectator numbers.

The recent Download music festival at Donington was open to a crowd of 10,000, while the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 18 has been permitted to have a full capacity crowd of 140,000, with both events included in the government’s pilot test programme.

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World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea won all three races at Donington Park in 2019.

Wembley will host a crowd of 45,000 for Tuesday evening’s Euro 2020 clash between England and Germany, with an increased crowd of 60,000 allowed for the semi-finals and final of the competition in July.

Six-time world champion Rea said that while it would be welcome to have some fans present, he would much rather be racing at a ‘packed’ Donington as he aims to put on a show at his home round of the series.

“I am really excited to go to Donington because we missed it last year,” he said.

“We had a great weekend there in 2019 and it is a circuit that I really enjoy riding at.

“It’s our first home race in two years and we will have some fans trackside, which is nice, although it would have been good to have a packed Donington.

“There will be a bit of atmosphere there and I am looking forward to it.”

On his last appearance at Donington two years ago, Rea completed a terrific treble on his Kawasaki and the 34-year-old would love a repeat this weekend after his championship advantage was cut to 20 points by Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu in the previous round at Misano, where Rea finished third in all three races.

“I hope to make a really strong weekend and work from Friday morning to understand the tyre options Pirelli has brought, and we will continue to fine-tune our bike to be ready for the races,” said Rea, ahead of round four of the championship.

“From past experience it is also a good track for the Ninja ZX-10RR, so I am excited to get the new and improved 2021 model there.

“At the recent Navarra test we tried some chassis options and we have a great understanding of the working window of the bike, so we have options should we face some limitations.

“I feel we really understood how we could get the bike to turn better and that will help us in some sections at Donington.”

Donington Park in the East Midlands hosted the first ever World Superbike round in 1988 and has been a particularly strong venue for Kawasaki over the years, with the manufacturer recording 18 victories – more than any of its rivals.

Unusually, there will be no World Supersport or Supersport 300 races this weekend, with both classes returning for the fifth round at Assen (July 23-25) prior to the summer break.

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