As the UK woke to thunderstorms, the second race at Donington looked shaky. But it seemed that even thunderstorms wouldn’t stop the storming Dutchman Michael van der Mark, who pushed and shoved his way to victory number two.
After winning yesterday’s race, van der Mark started from ninth and it looked to be a tall order. By the time the race started the storm clouds had lifted, but spots of rain would be reported around the race track at the mid-way point.
Lorenzo Savadori took his Aprilia out front and initially came under pressure from Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes. Eventually, as Lowes slipped into the lead, team mate van der Mark wasn’t far behind. The Dutchman took the lead at the end of lap 18 and ran with it, to finish with a 2.3 second lead over his closest rival.
Surprisingly, Jonathan Rea wasn’t his closest rival. After van der Mark had mugged him for the lead, the Kawasaki Racing Team satellite counterpart piloted by Toprak Razgatlioglu came from seemingly nowhere to snatch second from the reigning world champion on the last lap. The Turkish rider, who is heavily mentored by “King of Supersport” Kenan Sofoglu, quietly worked his way up from tenth on the grid to take a surprise podium – the first in his debut Superbike season.
The Ducati’s suffered similar fate to yesterday, although both of their factory riders did manage top ten finishes. Chaz Davies clinched an impressive fifth, while his team mate Marco Melandri could only make it into 11th. Their Junior Team team mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi suffered technical issues on the grid, while Xavi Fores had a weekend to forget with another DNF.
The British wildcards didn’t fare much better either, with Leon Haslam crashing out on lap two and Luke Mossey, Bradley Ray and Gino Rea ending the race 14th, 15th and 19th. Mason Law failed to finish.
Thankfully it seems that the thrill of the racing has improved dramatically as we rolled into round six. Although the regulation changes for 2018 have brought the racing much closer than we’ve seen in previous years, it seems that coming to Donington has brought out a new lease of life. This weekend we have been treated to some spectacular drama, some close battles and a new winner – which is something that we’re always keen to see.
There’s still a long way to go when it comes to bringing other manufacturers up to the sharp end, but we’re getting there. I’m sure of it.