2013 WSB champion Tom Sykes, after a poor season’s start in Australia (where he doesn’t much like the Philip Island track), has mounted a great jump in his title defence with a double win in the second event of the year at the Spanish Aragon track.
It was a double-double for Kawasaki, as Sykes’s team-mate Loris Baz finished second to his team leader in both races. Sykes ran away in the first race, finishing with nearly a five-second margin, but Baz and a resurgent Marco Melandri (Aprilia) were both on his tail for the second race, making the Yorkshireman work for his double.
Sykes thinks his tire choice for the second race was his problem. “After four or five laps it felt far from perfect. Race one was good, we had a great set-up and even I was surprised at our consistent pace. With the cold track I was expecting more of a drop.
“So in race two I thought it was going to be straightforward. I went for the [harder option rear tire]. Maybe this wasn’t the correct choice and for this reason I had to dig extra deep and try and make the best of a bad situation. The two guys behind me for sure had more grip but we were able to put the ZX-10R on the piece of tarmac those guys were looking for. I’m very happy to hold on to the win under those circumstances.”
Baz was equally delighted with his result, moving to second in the championship and leading it after the first race. He said, “I’m really happy, I loved the race. It’s a track that we’ve always been struggling at so to be on the podium and really close to the victory is good. We did a good race. I think everybody enjoyed it. … I was the best in the world for one hour!”
Aprilia factory rider Sylvain Guintoli, leading the series after the first races in Australia, had an uncharacteristically quiet weekend. He carded a sixth and a fourth, respectable but hardly the position he was looking for, having said before the race that he expected to be in contention for the wins. He still holds third in the series.
Meanwhile, his team-mate Marco Melandri, after a lacklustre Race 1 with an 11th his tire choice for Race 2 and was all over the Kawasakis of Sykes and Baz at the finish, passing Sykes for the lead on the last lap but running wide and getting repassed by both of the Green Machines. “I overtook Baz and at that point, with the win within a shout, my DNA pushed me to make a go of it even if maybe I was a little too far behind Sykes.
“Unfortunately I went wide and finished third, but I had to prove that I could win and I will take that confidence with me to Assen to get my first win of the season!”
Fifth after the weekend was a happy Jonathon Rea on the Pata Honda, certainly the oldest bike in the field. Rea grabbed a hard-fought third in the first race and fifth in the second; Race 1 was his first podium since the middle of last season. “It’s been a really positive weekend for us to go back on the podium this early in the season. It hasn’t really been a trend for us recently so it’s given everyone a bit of a boost. We just really need to build on this.”
The result wasn’t easy; he passed Ducati’s David Giugliano on the last lap, only to have the Italian try an aggressive re-pass in a hair-pin turn. They collided hard, but Rea stayed up while Giugliano fell, managing to recover and finish eighth.
Next up in the series standings after the weekend was Eugene Laverty, the Northern Ireland native salvaging a fifth and sixth and smiling about it after a difficult weekend that saw him off-track in both races but recovering for excellent results.
“I had the same problem in the second race (a heavy fuel load affecting braking) but I just had to be more careful. At the end of race one, we were really strong; race two I had a good pace but on lap one Toni Elias hit me and I moved from eighth back to 12th. That hurt my race a lot so I had to fight back to finish sixth, but I can at least have a smile at that.”
Hint: if you want to watch the closest and perhaps the best top-level racing series in the world – that is, if your idea of good racing is watching about a dozen riders lunging into a one-line corner at the end of every straight – check out WSB’s 600 cc series.
The WSS show at Aragon was by far the most entertaining race of the WSB or Moto GP shows this weekend. Kenan Sofuoglu claimed his first victory of the year, but only after leaders Jules Cluzel (winner of the first race) and Kev Coghlan went down after Cluzel out-braked his MV and clipped Coglan’s rear wheel. Both went down, although Coglan got his R6 restarted to finish fifth.
Michael Van Der Mark, who led much of the race, took his Pata Honda into second behind the Turkish ace’s Mahi India Kawasaki, while third was gifted to Florian Marino on another Kawasaki.
Coghlan still leads the series after two races, followed by Marino, Raffaele De Rosa, Sofuoglu, and Cluzel.
World championship standings after four of 26 races (two of 13 events)
1. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing, 75 points
2. Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki Racing, 71
3. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing, 64
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, Factory Aprilia Racing, 49
5. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Pata Honda, 48
6. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, 46
7. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Ducati Superbike Team, 43
8. Chaz Davies, U.K., Ducati Superbike Team, 30
9. Leon Haslam, U.K., Pata Honda, 25
10. Toni Elias, Spain, Red Devils Roma Aprilia, 23
Next event April 27, Assen, The Netherlands.