After a seriously difficult race at the U.K.’s Silverstone track – cool temperatures mixed with intermittent showers – the World Superbike paddock is definitely looking forward to the break until the next race at the start of September.
French national and Brit resident Sylvain Guintoli slightly extended his lead in the championship despite only managing a fourth and a sixth. Silverstone, originally built on a hilltop as an airfield, typically suffers from lots of wind and bizarre weather changes, and this weekend was no exception.
Rain was showering down at various and random spots on the track right through both races, but only got heavy enough to stop the action just before the end of Race 2 – right after Leon Haslam had a huge accident, fortunately without further injuring his healing broken leg.
Guintoli said, “I’m happy … that it’s over! Unfortunately my shoulder (injured last month in a training accident) gave me a bit of trouble today, especially at the beginning of the race when I didn’t have any strength in my right arm.”
Winners on the day were Jonathon Rea, riding the wheels off his Pata Honda and taking big chances with the on-and-off rainy conditions, and Loris Baz, Tom Sykes’ Kawasaki team-mate.
“Race 1 was probably one of the sweetest victories of my career because to ride out-front in those conditions was quite scary,” said Rea.. “I was so happy for the whole team and our sponsors, but I had to be very cautious.”
Baz, who won his first and to date only WSB race in similar conditions at the Donington track almost exactly a year ago, was ecstatic with his win: “In race two I said to myself, ‘OK, this one is mine.’ In the first part of the race, even in the dry, I had good pace and I pushed at the front.
“Every time somebody tried to pass me I passed them back and at the end the conditions were really wet and I nearly fell. I want to say thanks my team because they are making a really good job with this bike!”
Aprilia factory rider Eugene Laverty had a good weekend, taking a second and a third to move into third overall in the standings. “These were two really difficult races but I’m happy with a double podium after the ups and downs in Moscow. The riders in front of me took on a tricky track bravely.” Laverty certainly has the speed to deserve his factory ride but has suffered from consistency – this weekend may have turned around his attack on the title.
BMW had a bad weekend, with neither rider qualifying well. Chaz Davies was hot on the track, but suffered engine failures that wiped out a promising weekend for him. Melandri never really got going from his bad starting spot and like many other riders elected to be cautious in the treacherous conditions.
Early series leader (and still second place holder) Tom Sykes didn’t show his usual form. He’s not a fan of the Silverstone track, and the highly chancy weather conditions made him ride much more cautiously than usual.
The normally upbeat Yorkshireman said, “In these weather conditions it was always going to be a difficult one. I was not prepared to put too much on the line in these kinds of conditions – slick tyres, rain falling – and that is just the way it is. I was not prepared to gamble too much and we saw how easy it was for people to crash, so taking some points is better than taking none. I do not like thinking about the championship but I was maybe forced to think a little bit about it in race two.”
“Congratulations to Loris on his win and after the summer break we will move on and see what we can do at some circuits we should do well at.”
It was an excellent weekend for the Fixi Suzuki team, Leon Camier grabbing the team’s first podium of the year on his 27th birthday in Race 1. Then his team-mate Jules Cluzel beat back the rain-soaked second race to grab a second behind fellow French rider Loris Baz.
In the 600 cc Supersport race, Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) took the win over Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) after a back-and-forth battle that saw Lowes on the ground on the last lap after a Hail Mary pass by the Turkish rider. The two were far enough ahead of the rest that Lowes was able to restart and still grab second, maintaining a 29-point lead over Sofluogo in the series chase.
World Championship Point standings after 17 of 29 races:
1. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 262 points
2. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 249
3. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 226
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam,221
5. TIE, Chaz Davies, U.K. BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam / Loris Baz, Kawasaki Racing Team, 180
7. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Pata Honda World Superbike Team, 176
8. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Factory Red Devils Roma Aprilia, 138
9. Leon Camier, U.K., Fixit Crescent Suzuki, 114
10. Jules Cluzel, France, Fixit Crescent Suzuki, 113
Next event, September 1, Nurburgring Circuit, Germany