Laguna Seca (California, USA), Sunday 13 July 2014 – The second WSBK race at Laguna Seca was as hot on track as the air temperature as after two red flags and restarts, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) came out victorious in the 7 lap sprint race that put an end to the ninth round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship, which saw a total 49,408 attendants during the three days. Thanks to his 22nd career win, the reigning champion added one tiny point to his championship lead over Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), second at the flag and now 44 points behind the reigning champion.
Tom Sykes: “The aim was to win the race. Obviously Race 1 was a big disappointment but we made a number of changes on the Ninja for Race 2. The bike felt OK, better than in the first race and then with every red flag we added little tweaks. What can I say, I got a fabulous bunch of guys working for me. My wife sent me some inspiration, I had some great pictures of my daughter which put a great smile on my face. I’m sure people watching back home enjoyed it as much as I did. I’ve got a few days to really enjoy myself here in California, I’ve got some big events coming up with Kawasaki and I can’t wait to go into summer break.”
Sylvain Guintoli: “This is not a loss. We were looking for some points, but Tom is very strong in a short race like this one. About the two red flags I thought maybe this is destiny, like it happened last year. In the first restart Tom was fast and I just tried to hang on to him, but in a seven lap race is very difficult, I just tried everything but I was never in a position to attack him. Once again I gave my best. These are two strong results, but for me are not enough. We have to work during the summer break to come back really strong.”
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Championship) completed the podium of the second encounter, finishing on a high note in what has been his first ever visit to Laguna Seca.
From the first start it was Sykes who once again grabbed the holeshot into turn one and as the packed field sorted themselves out around the first few turns it was Guintoli and race one winner and team mate Marco Melandri who slotted himself into second and third ahead of the fast starting Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Guintoli applied the pressure immediately and after following the reigning champion for a couple of laps made his move, taking the lead into turn 6 on lap 5 only to lose it straight afterwards as Sykes successfully fought back. Melandri also seized the moment to take advantage of an off line Guintoli to move into third as the battle at the front now raged between six riders after Davide Giugliano (Ducati SuperbikeTeam) and Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) looked to get in on the act.
Lap 11 saw the red flags shown after Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) suffered a spectacular crash at the Corkscrew. The British rider was taken to the medical centre for further checks but fortunately the reigning BSB Champion got away with no fractures.
After a short delay the race was restarted over 7 laps with grid positions decided by the race positions prior to the stop. That meant Sykes was still on Pole with the Aprilia duo of Melandri and Guintoli alongside. Row two for the restart saw Laverty, Elias and Giugliano.
When the race resumed the action was fast and furious but after only one completed lap the red flags were out again as Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team – EVO) crashed out on the start and finish straight. The Frenchman, who was conscious and alert, was taken to the Medical Centre for further checks that revealed a dislocated and fractured left subtalar joint.
However and at the third time of asking the race distance was completed with Sykes taking the win ahead of Guintoli and Jonathan Rea who completed the podium places after Marco Melandri crashed out of the lead, followed a short time later by Davide Giugliano who had been charging through the field. A disappointing end of the race for both Italian riders, especially for Melandri who looked capable of taking his second double win of the season.
Marco Melandri: “I got a perfect start in race one, even though I was a bit worried because Tom usually tries to pull away in the early stages. When he made a mistake at the Corkscrew I thought it was the right chance to push to the limit. I set my pace and kept focused, trying to avoid any mistake. It’s a shame about Race 2, at the third restart I made a couple of mistakes whilst shifting gears and I thought there was a gearing problem on my bike. I lost my concentration and when I realised it was all OK, I went too hot at the last turn. I’m really sorry for that, because I think the double win was within our reach, but I’m happy of the way we worked this weekend.”
Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) and Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) rounded out the top six whilst in the EVO category the best classified rider was once again David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) who finished a respectable 8th overall.
Results: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 7 Laps/25.270 km in 9’51.346 average 153.839 kph; 2. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1.014; 3. Rea (Honda) 2.793; 4. Laverty (Suzuki) 3.681; 5. Elias (Aprilia) 4.165; 6. Baz (Kawasaki) 7.160; 7. Haslam (Honda) 7.331; 8. Salom (Kawasaki) 15.061; 9. Andreozzi (Kawasaki) 15.674; 10. Camier (MV Agusta) 17.015; 11. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 18.338; 12. Staring (Kawasaki) 19.270; 13. Morais (Kawasaki) 20.040; 14. Pegram (EBR) 23.845; 15. Rizmayer (BMW) 25.592; 16. May (EBR) 26.688; 17. Ulrich (Honda) 31.893; RT. Giugliano (Ducati); RT. Melandri (Aprilia); RT. Canepa (Ducati); NS. Barrier (BMW); SH. Badovini (Bimota) 14.560; SH. Iddon (Bimota) 14.892.
Standings (Round 9 of 13): 1. Sykes 325; 2. Guintoli 281; 3. Rea 261; 4. Baz 253; 5. Melandri 217; 6. Davies 159; 7. Giugliano 153; 8. Elias 137; 9. Laverty 134; 10. Haslam 133; 11. Lowes 119; 12. Salom 88; 13. Canepa 51; 14. Camier 37; 15. Guarnoni 33; 16. Barrier 21; 17. Andreozzi 17; 18. Morais 17; 19. Scassa 16; 20. Foret 14; 21. Corti 13; 22. Staring 12; 23. Allerton 6; 24. Bos 5; 25. Goi 5; 26. Russo 5; 27. Pegram 2; 28. Toth 2; 29. Fabrizio 2; 30. Rizmayer 1; 31. Lanusse 1. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 342; 2. Aprilia 318; 3. Honda 261; 4. Ducati 220; 5. Suzuki 200; 6. BMW 58; 7. MV Agusta 20; 8. EBR 2.