The British round of the 2019 season could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the World Superbike championship, as Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea are separated by only 16 points which is the smallest margin since the opening round in Australia.
Bautista has led the way from the very first race of the year at Phillip Island, and has looked untouchable for long periods including winning the first eleven races in a row.
But consecutive crashes from a leading position in Jerez and Misano, has given four-time defending champion Rea an unlikely opening at his home round.
Rea has been in damage limitation for large parts of the season, but improvements made throughout the year and Bautista’s recent mistakes, have allowed the Kawasaki rider to believe he can still haul back the Spaniard.
Donington Park is a circuit Bautista knows well, and therefore won’t have to learn a completely knew layout as he did at Imola where Rea took a double victory. The Aruba.it Ducati rider will need to be at his absolute best to stop Rea, who looks back to his best after a second double victory in Italy.
Last year produced a first time winner in the form of Michael Van Der Mark, who did the double in front of the British crowd.
The Dutchman suffered a huge crash last time out at Misano, and was believed to be ruled out of the weekend, but the Pata Yamaha rider has decided to test the waters and make an earlier than anticipated return.
British Superbike rider for the McAMS Yamaha team Tarran Mackenzie, will be on standby for the factory team in case the injuries prove to much for Van Der Mark.
Eugene Laverty will also make his return from injury on the Team Goeleven Racing bike. The Irishman has been out of action since May, and while declared fit, Laverty will be reviewed after Free Practice one to see if he can ride for the remainder of the weekend.
Peter Hickman will make an appearance for the Motorrad BMW team alongside Tom Sykes, as German rider Markus Reiterberger has been ruled out due to suffering from a severe flu.
Donington Park is the home round for several riders in need of a good weekend, with Chaz Davies, Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes at the top of that list.
Lowes started the season in red hot form, but has suffered some unlucky results, while crashing out too often for his own liking. For Davies and Haslam, both riders have been off the pace far more than on it, and will look to kick start their year with a positive haul of points ahead of the US round a week later.