Tom Sykes recovered from the disappointment suffered in Malaysia by cruising to a dominant double victory – his third in this season’s World Superbike series – under the unrelenting Misano sun.
As was the case at the scenes of his prior wins this season, he romped home ahead of team-mate and chief culprit of the difficulties in Sepang Loris Baz to extend his championship lead.
|It was another Kawasaki whitewash at Misano
Photo: KRT Kawasaki
Showing no signs of the injuries sustained in that collision while on the bike, Sykes asserted his domination on the series by pulling a substantial gap in race one by mid-distance to come home a full five seconds ahead of Baz. The second was achieved in similar circumstances with only Davide Giugliano – who jumped the start – heading him on track.
Sykes started from pole position for only the second time in 2014 but morning morning warm up suggested two close races lay ahead. Baz headed the 15 minute session with Jonathan Rea, Sylvain Guintoli and the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies all looking strong.
Toni Elias shot into an early lead in race one from the middle of the second row and produced three textbook laps of wild, erratic riding, losing first to Sykes on the back straight, then running wide at turn 14, allowing Baz into second in the process.
Elias’ run at the front proved problematic for Chaz Davies a few laps later as he ran on at the first corner, pushing the Welshman wide, and rejoining the track in seventh.
By that stage Sykes had commanded a one second lead over a chasing Baz with Melandri, Guintoli, Giugliano and Davies further back. Italian fans were briefly offered hope of a Kawasaki face-off at the front on laps eight and nine as Baz whittled the lead down to 0.9 seconds. His charge faded there however, and by lap twelve Sykes maintained his unrelenting pace to break clear and win by a commanding five seconds.
It was left to Davies to provide the excitement as he recovered from his earlier moment with Elias to dispose firstly with his team-mate, then the fading Guintoli to reel Melandri in. Ultimately the Italian wouldn’t relent and hung on for his third podium on the bounce.
Giugliano’s qualifying performance once again flattered to deceive. The Italian struggled as the race wore on and he eventually fell behind Elias and Rea to finish a disappointing eighth.
Lowes was lying 9th, ahead of Haslam and Laverty when he crashed at turn five on the twelfth lap.
Such was Giugliano’s desire to make a strong start in race two he jumped the start by a fraction of a second, incurring a ride-through penalty in the process. The Italian pitted while holding first and from there Sykes was never headed, easing away from Baz, Melandri and Guintoli for his sixth win of 2014.
Melandri was doubly determined to break the Kawasaki stranglehold of the top two positions and made Baz’s life exceedingly difficult with risky manoeuvres at turns one and two on laps 19 and 20, the second of which nearly pushed both riders off track.
Baz maintained his cool with some smart defensive riding on the final lap to claim, in his own words, “the best race I’ve ever done.” Guintoli faded for a distant fourth while Rea emerged a place behind in fifth after a race long duel with Elias, Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes. It was later revealed that Laverty had snapped his foot, which had been damaged in his MotoGP test in Australia, during race one. With the aid of pain killing injections he rode to a heroic seventh in race two.