Yorkshireman Tom Sykes had the weekend from Heaven on his factory Kawasaki in the World Superbike series races at Donington in the U.K. this weekend.
He topped all the qualifying sessions and all three Superpole phases on the way to a lap record-breaking pole position, followed by two wins. How could it have been better?
Oh yeah, he closed to within four points of the WSB series lead, nipping at the heels of Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli, the English-based French rider collecting a second and a third. The other podiums went to Goldbet BMW’s Marco Melandri, second in Race One, and Guintoli’s Irish team-mate Eugene Laverty, third in Race Two.
Sykes’ domination was total, with wins of more than two seconds in Race One and eight in Race Two. It was also his first double win, and the first by a British rider at Donington Park since Carl Fogarty in 1995 and the first for Kawasaki anywhere since 2000.
“I have been in World Superbike for a few years now,” said Sykes, “and to get the first double win on home soil is a fairy tale. One click on the front suspension between races made the difference and we could see that in the second race time, which was better than the first one … No better place to do my first double than at Donington Park. A good weekend and we are closer in the championship, just four points from the top. We’re in a strong situation, we have a good base setting and now we are going to some fantastic circuits.”
Series leader Guintoli said, “… third and second are excellent results for the championship on a track where we are not able to take full advantage of the RSV4’s potential. Now we are off for Portimao, a track which is very well suited for the characteristics of my Aprilia.”
It wasn’t a great day at the office for Honda, Suzuki, or Ducati. Lead Ducati rider Carlos Checa managed only a 12th in the first race, still suffering from pain in his injured shoulder, then didn’t start the second race. The best they could manage was Nicolo Cannepa/s eighth in Race One.
Honda’s Jonathon Rea looked good in practice, but faded during both races, only managing a fourth in the first race and an 11th in the second after running off track. He was not a happy camper, suffering electronic problems in both races. “Race two was a complete disaster. Already, on the sighting lap, I told the guys that we had a sensor problem on the traction control. They said there wasn’t enough time to fix it so I went out on a bike that I was really unsure of. In reality it was cutting way, way too much power and I even tried to turn the traction control off, but it wouldn’t turn completely off. It was the worst 23 laps I’ve ever ridden.”
“I’m really frustrated after all the work we’ve done – we struggled for dry time at the start of the weekend but made some inroads during warm-up this morning and I felt good in race one. I feel like we should have been on the podium twice today.”
Meanwhile, team-mate Leon Haslam reluctantly decided against racing, his injured leg just not up to the contest.
Over at Suzuki, early promise in qualifying for Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel failed to materialize in results, Cluzel squeezing into the top 10 in Race One being a sad reward for the weekend’s efforts.
There may be some added excitement at the next contest, as the legendary Noriyuki Haga has signed to ride with the Grillini Dentalmatic Team at Imola. The 43-time WSB race winner has reached an agreement with the team for a one-race comeback on a BMW S1000RR developed by Feel Racing and run by the Italian squad.
In the Supersport event, an uncatchable Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) dominated the World Supersport race at his home track. Lowes did the incredible, leaving the field and taking an 11 second margin over second place Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki).
Roberto Rolfo (Parkingo MV Agusta Corse) scored a sensational third for the Italian brand. MV last scored a world championship podium in 1976 when Giacomo Agostini won the 500 cc race at Nurburgring.
World Championship Point Standings (after 10 of 30 races):
1. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 173 points
2. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 169
3. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 149
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 127
5. Chaz Davies, U.K., BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 112
6. Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki Racing Team, 95
7. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Pata Honda World Superbike Team, 89
8. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Factory Red Devils Roma Aprilia, 86
9. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Factory Althea Racing Aprilia, 72
10. Jules Cluzel, France, Fixi Crescent Suzuki, 55.
Next race, June 9, Portimao Circuit, Portugal.