LAUSITZRING, Germany – Kawasaki’s Jonathon Rea has gone from hero to zero and back to hero again since the last World Superbike round, way back on July 10 at Laguna Seca in California. Leaving the U.S. with a healthy points lead despite a mechanical failure stopping him in the second race, he came to Germany confident of keeping ahead of his team-mate Tom Sykes.
But transmission gremlins kicked up again in race one, causing him to crash, restart, then retire, while Sykes finished second to an astounding performance by Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who simply ran away and hid from the field by more than 10 seconds at the end. The Welshman said, “I was confident about my pace, but honestly I’m surprised with the gap!”
Sykes finishing second and Rea scoring nothing closed up the points considerably, with American star Nicky Hayden taking his Ten Kate Honda into a strong third, close to Sykes, saying later, “I set a good pace and I was able to close the gap down to Tom; I really wanted to beat him … but unfortunately I wasn’t close enough for a pass.”
Close behind Hayden came Spaniard Jordi Torres on the first BMW in the race, closely followed by Leon Camier, putting in another superb performance on the outclassed MV Agusta. The two Pata Yamahas finished eighth and ninth with Alex Lowes – a very busy man these days as he’s also filling in for the injured Bradley Smith on the Tech 3 Moto GP team – and Sylvain Guintoli, making a welcome return after a serious ankle injury suffered back in May.
The second race on Sunday was totally different, with pouring rain holding up the start of the race for more than an hour for safety reasons. Once things finally got underway, Rea simply gathered up his skirts and disappeared, setting several fastest race laps in the treacherous conditions and after the first lap holding the lead to the end. Sykes crashed early on, ironically at the exact place where Rea had gone of on Saturday, hitting a puddle and losing the front. He remounted and came back to an impressive 10th, but still lost considerable ground to his team-mate in the title chase, now 47 points back with only three events (six races) left.
The track conditions were awful, with many riders crashing out as the track slowly dried but stayed wet with lots of puddles to catch the unwary. There were 11 crashes out of 24 starters, eight of which couldn’t rejoin; 12 if you count Nicky Hayden running off without falling to avoid a crash by Alex Lowes. During all of it, Rea simply rode away into the distance. The carnage behind him led to an unusual podium, to say the least, with Alex de Anglis (Aprilia) and Xavier Fores (Ducati) taking second and third. It was by far de Angelis’ best result since his horrifying Moto GP accident in Japan last year (and his first WSBK podium), and Fores’ first-ever podium in world championship racing.
Once again, Camier did a superb job on the MV to take fourth, while Sylvain Guintoli grabbed a welcome fifth, squeezing out Chaz Davies on the last lap.
Michael van der Mark’s eighth on his Ten Kate Honda was noteworthy, as on the second-last lap he crashed and the bike barrel-rolled several times, smashing it apparently to bits. The young Dutchman wrestled it back up and beat it into submission, managing to finish the last two laps on what looked like a wreck from the scrapyard. He’ll be replacing Guintoli on the Pata Yamaha team next year.
Series leader and four-time champ Kenan Sofuoglu grabbed another win with his Kawasaki and extended his championship lead over team-mate Randy Krummenacher, but he had to work hard for the victory. The wild-card entry of 20-year-old Yamaha-mounted Niki Tuuli nearly upset his apple card, the Finnish rookie hounding his experienced Turkish rival from the start to the finish, even leading for a few laps in the middle of the race.
It was an astonishing performance from Tuuli in only his second appearance in the World Superbike series – last year he did a one-off race in the U.K. and finished a superb ninth. He hopes to have financing to complete this year’s series, and if he can arrange a complete ride for next year will certainly be a new cat among the established WSS pigeons.
Jules Cluzel and his MV finished a lonely third, with New Yorker P.J. Jacobsen coming on top of a massive scrap to finish fourth just ahead of Federico Caricasulo. Jacobsen’s Honda made it four manufacturers in the first four places.
Oakville, Ontario’s Braeden Oort finished 28th, last racer on track but ahead of five others who crashed out or had mechanical issues.
European Junior Cup
Montreal’s Stacey Nesbitt finished 22nd out of 28 riders in the spec Honda series race won by Turkish racer Harun Cabuk. She was the second woman in the female class, 20 seconds behind Avalon Biddle of New Zealand. Nesbitt’s avowed goal for the season has been to get closer to Biddle, and she’s been easing up on that goal each race.
World Superbike Standings after 10 of 13 events (20 of 26 races)
- Jonathon Rea, U.K., Kawasaki Racing, 393 points
- Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing, 346
- Chaz Davies, U.K., Aruba Ducati, 295
- Michael van der Mark, Netherlands, Ten Kate Honda, 203
- Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ten Kate Honda, 195
- Davide Giugliano, Italy, Aruba Ducati, 194
- Jordi Torres, Spain, Althea BMW, 168
- Leon Camier, U.K., MV Agusta, 134
- Xavier Fores, Spain, Barni Racing Ducati, 119
- Lorenzo Savadori, IODA Racing Aprilia, 110
Next race, Magny-Cours, France, October 1-2.