It may have taken three attempts and two hours and 50 minutes to finish, reports crash.net, but the first of two World Superbike races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca came down to the final few laps with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes passing BMW’s Chaz Davies in turn 10 on the 10th of 12 laps to take victory in the twice restarted race.
The win was Sykes’ seventh on the season and it increased his lead in the World Championship to 22 points over Sylvain Guintoli, the Aprilia factory rider suffering the most from the twice restarted race. Guintoli came into the U.S. round of the series trailing Sykes by just eight points, but the Frenchman – who earned pole position earlier today - could only muster a fifth-place finish.
“To be honest, Sylvain [Guintoli] was riding really strong,” Sykes said. “He definitely saved a little bit in the pocket for the racing today, but when it counts in the last leg he had a little bit of an issue, which is a shame. We came together in turn one and it pushed my brake lever down so that was a little bit awkward to deal with for the first few laps, but we soon got our heads together really. The short race definitely favored some of our competitors with the BMW guys were… I was going to say something then, but this is a family show. They were very fast out of the trap so I was really pushing to stay with those guys but in the end it played out for myself and the ZX-10R, but tomorrow’s another day.”
Davies ended up second after getting the holeshot and leading 10 of the 12 laps of the final portion of the race. He ended up 1.2 seconds behind Sykes.
Third place went to Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty, the Irishman taking advantage of Marco Melandri’s aggressiveness on the final lap. With Melandri trying to pass his teammate Davies in turn five, the Italian got in too hot and ran wide, opening the door for Laverty who hounced the veteran for the rest of the lap, beating him to the line by .2 of a second.
Then came Guintoli, the pole sitter leading the first part of the race by 1.8 seconds when the first red flag came out. In the second part of the race, Guintoli again led when the red flag was shown with both of the red flags brought about by crashes and the resulting air fence repairs. Guintoli will most definitely be seeing red tonight when he closes his eyes after slipping to an eventual fifth place when he seemed destined to victory.
Sixth place went to Davide Guigliano on the Althea Racing Aprilia, the Italian ending up just .1 of a second behind Guintoli at the finish. Then came Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel, Althea Racing Ducati’s Toni Elias, Ayrton Badovini on the factory Ducati and Kawasaki-mounted Mark Aitchison, the Australian rounding out the top 10.
Of the Americans, only Blake Young finished, the fill-in rider for the injured Leon Camier on the Fixi Crescent Suzuki ending up 12th.
The two Michael Jordan Motorsports riders both crashed with Danny Eslick crashing out on the fifth lap of the first start, his GSX-R1000 damaging the air fence and bringing out the red flag. Roger Lee Hayden lasted until the seventh lap of the second start when he crashed right after Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam in turn four, with the air fence again getting damaged enough to prompt a red flag. All three riders – Eslick, Hayden and Haslam – escaped injury.
RACE 1 RESULTS
1. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 16m 55.703s
2. Chaz Davies GBR BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 +1.454s
3. Eugene Laverty IRL Aprilia Racing RSV4 +2.650s
4. Marco Melandri ITA BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 +2.650s
5. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 +3.430s
6. Davide Giugliano ITA Althea Racing RSV4 +3.584s
7. Jules Cluzel FRA Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +9.134s
8. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 +11.252s
9. Ayrton Badovini ITA Alstare Ducati 1199 R +14.140s
10. Mark Aitchison AUS Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +17.830s
11. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +18.010s
12. Blake Young USA Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +21.767s
13. Michel Fabrizio ITA Pata Honda CBR1000RR +22.087s
14. Federico Sandi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +32.837s
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo ITA Grillini Dentalmatic BMW S1000RR +34.267s
16. Glen Allerton AUS Next Gen BMW S1000RR +50.167s
Eugene Laverty was a man on a mission at Laguna Seca as he fought back to win Race 2 by 0.112s ahead of a tenacious Davide Giugliano.
With the sun glaring down on the grid, Laverty got the jump on his rivals into the first corner ahead of Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, Nicolas Canepa, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies.
Canepa, filling in for the injured Carlos Checa, became the first crasher when he went down at Turn 1 on lap 2, pushing too hard. Davies joined the list of retirements a lap later when the BMW rider pulled into the pits with suspected brake issues, parking his S1000RR.
At the front, Sykes took the lead on lap 5, taking it off Laverty at Turn 11 while moments later Melandri took Guintoli through the Corkscrew with Giugliano following the Italian through. Championship hopeful Guintoli was down to fifth but by no means out of it as the leading train consisted of seven riders with Sykes unable to drop them.
Giugliano's next move was on Melandri as the Althea Aprilia rider showed record pace, putting in a new fastest race lap time on lap eight. His next target was Laverty and, having closed in on the Irishman, was all over his rear wheel until he forced his way through - and Laverty to sit up - on lap 10.
Giugliano set about hunting down Sykes for P1 and although it took him a few laps, he was sitting on the Kawasaki's rear wheel with 10 to go. Behind them, Laverty and Melandri had not given up on the fight for the win and also closed in while Guintoli was slightly adrift in fifth place but well ahead of Jules Cluzel, Roger Lee Hayden and Toni Elias.
While Sykes tentatively held onto the lead, Giugliano was underneath the Brit at almost every corner, trying to find a way through. All the while he was dogged by Laverty who had Melandri right behind him. Meanwhile, Ayrton Badovini joined the list of crashers as he went down with six to go. The Alstare Ducati rider limped away on his already injured ankle.
As the laps counted down and time started to run out, the four-way fight for the victory heated up with riders taking pot shots at each other. While Sykes defended with all his worth, Giugliano had to turn attack into defense as Laverty looked to improve on his P3 and made it stick on lap 22 at Turn 5.
The penultimate lap saw Laverty retake the lead off Sykes, who then lost out to Giugliano. Corners later, now on the final lap, the Brit came under attack from Melandri who booted the Kawasaki rider off the podium. Laverty went onto take the chequered flag, his seventh win of the season, denying the tenacious Giugliano while Melandri completed the podium ahead of Sykes.
However, one could argue that it was Sykes' weekend as he will leave America with 361 points, 23 points ahead of Laverty, who is one ahead of Guintoli.––Paul Duchene
RACE TWO RESULTS
01. Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'44.555
02. Davide Giugliano Althea Racing Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'44.667
03. Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 36'46.606
04. Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 36'46.859
05. Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'47.514
06. Jules Cluzel Fixi Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 36'54.742
07. Toni Elias Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 Factory 37'02.344
08. Roger Lee Hayden Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 37'05.157
09. David Salom Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 37'06.610
10. Michel Fabrizio Pata Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 37'08.027
11. Leon Haslam Pata Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 37'08.673
12. Blake Young Fixi Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 37'14.118
13. Mark Aitchison Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 37'17.120
14. Danny Eslick Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 37'36.332
15. Niccolò Canepa Team Ducati Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale 37'50.379
16. Vittorio Iannuzzo Grillini Dentalmatic SBK BMW S1000 RR 38'08.447
17. Glen Allerton Next Gen Motorsports BMW S1000 RR 36'53.376
RT. Ayrton Badovini Team Ducati Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale 25'48.686
RT. Chaz Davies BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 2'55.825
RT. Federico Sandi Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R
WSBK Points Standings