BMW Motorrad head to the fifth round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship at Donington Park with its sights set firmly on a long-awaited first win having been prevented from exploiting its full potential at Assen and Monza.
The German manufacturer has come on leaps and bounds in recent races, the S1000RR dominating in the dry at Monza but unable to establish an advantage in the wet ahead of a race day that was curtailed anyway.
However, Donington Park signals another promising proposition for BMW, not least because Leon Haslam labels it as his very local circuit, while Marco Melandri took his first WSBK victory there twelve months ago.
Indeed, Haslam's connection to the circuit is such that his father Ron Haslam runs a riding school there, while a handful of podiums on unfancied machinery in the past (WSBK didn't visit Donington Park during Haslam's runner-up campaign of 2010) means he will likely be a firm favourite for victory this weekend.
“I really enjoy Donington,” he said. “Last year we had a tough time, as we nearly had a big crash in race two and the conditions weren't great but I think this year, with the improvements that we have made at BMW Motorrad, I can look forward to racing in front of my home crowd. We will have to wait and see what the weather will be like, but hopefully it will be a lot warmer than last year.
“Donington is renowned for being one of the heaviest braking circuits. You have the first section, which is all fast and flowing with lots of undulations. Then you have the last three or four corners of the track with real heavy braking, tight hairpins so you have a mix of all the different aspects that you need from a circuit. It always produces good races, so I am looking forward to it.”
Beyond the fact he took his first victory for Yamaha there in 2011, Melandri also used to live locally to the Donington Park circuit when he raced at MotoGP level. As such, the venue has special meaning with him as well.
“I really like the track,” the Italian, who is currently fourth in the standings, said. “Last year I had my first win in the Superbike World Championship there. The track is very good fun. The first section is very fast and smooth and the last part is all stop and go and requires hard braking. It is good fun because you have to change rhythm. I think we can enjoy a good race there on our RR, but a lot depends on the weather. I just hope that it will be dry and good weather for us.
“Donington is kind of a home race for me. I used to live just a few kilometres from the track, so I have many friends there and good memories. I am looking forward to returning there. I was back there for last year's race, but have not lived there since 2009, so I miss the place.”