Irish fast guy Eugene Laverty collected a double win at Turkey’s Istanbul Park Raceway, but could have been happier.
After the race he tweeted, “So pleased to win both races here in Istanbul to put us back into the title fight. Strange feeling though to win both races and to be on the lookout for a new job. Anyone out there need a fast employee for 2014?”
The word is that Aprilia will be re-focusing its efforts into Moto GP and backing off WSB in 2014, and also that Marco Melandri – out of a ride since BMW announced it’s leaving the Superbike series at the end of this season – will be taking Laverty’s spot.
The Irishman had a perfect weekend, qualifying well and taking comfortable wins in both contests. He was chased home by Melandri and Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes in race one, while Sykes collected a second in race two followed by Sylvain Guintoli, Laverty’s Aprilia team-mate. That, combined with Syke’s superpole (again!) gave the Yorkshireman a slender eight-point lead over Guintoli, with three events (six races) left on the schedule after the cancellation of the proposed season-ending Indian round.
Laverty was delighted with his result, saying “My last double win was at Monza in 2011. This two wins today feel particularly good because I wasn’t really expecting them … I’m back in the running for the championship, but above all I’ve regained confidence and that makes me hopeful for the coming rounds”.
Guintoli was a bit puzzled and disappointed with his results, saying, “Two strong races, but I’m still missing something … It wasn’t a complete disaster since we’re still close to Sykes and I got back onto the podium. Unfortunately my shoulder injury isn’t a simple thing to overcome. On a track like this one with fast turns and cross wind, it hurt quite a bit.”.
The weekend featured considerable carnage, with several riders unable to participate after crashes. Ducati ace Carlos Checa broke a wrist, his Alstare team-mate Ayrton Badovini tried to race after a practice crash but had to retire in race one, Kawasaki’s Loris Baz and Honda’s Jonathon Rea were both missing after injuries at Nurburgring, and Leon Camier reinjured his foot, likely needing an operation and missing the next two events.
Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India) and Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) put up a superb fight in the World Supersport race. The two riders gave the vocal and ecstatic Turkish crowd something to remember as, after swapping positions for countless times, the home hero managed to score the win: Lowes tried everything he could to snatch victory over the finish line, eventually finishing behind his rival for just fourth hundreds of a second.
Second brought Lowes closer to his first World Supersport title, as he is leading the standings with 49 points over Sofuoglu with just two races left in the season. Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport), who was up front in the early stages of the race, could not keep the pace of the front runners and finished third ahead of team mate Lorenzo Zanetti.
Next race, September 29, Laguna Seca, U.S.A.
World Superbike standings after 22 of 28 races
1. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 323 points
2. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing, 315
3. Eugen Laverty, U.K., Factory Aprilia Racing, 297
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 290
5. Chaz Davies, U.K., BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 239
6. Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki Racing Team, 180
7. Jonathan Rea, U.K., Pata Honda World Superbike Team, 176
8. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Pata Honda World Superbike Team, 168,
9. Jules Cluzel, France, Fixi Crescent Suzuki, 141
10. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Factory Althea Racing Aprilia, 139
Not mentioned was that ex-MotoGP rider, Toni Elias, was racing in WSBK for the first time this past weekend. Although Elias had been giving disappointing results since his 2010 Moto2 championship year, the move to WSBK looks to have been a great one. He finished 6th in race 1 and 5th in race 2. It seems that he likes the Aprilia and the Pirellis. I’ve been following him since 2000; it’s nice to see him making a smooth transition to That Other Series.