Sykes edges closer to 2014 title at Jerez: "I tried my hardest"

Reigning World Superbike Champion, Tom Sykes came even closer to securing his second world championship yesterday at the 10th round of the 2014 series in Jerez with a 5th place and podium finish respectively.

Team orders could have helped Guintoli in Jerez…

Photo: KRT

The Huddersfield rider make a slightly dubious start off the front row whereby he veered across the front of a couple of riders before the Kawasaki man missed a gear and fell back into the pack by the first corner. He was able to recover to an extent but it was all too late with his team mate Baz, the Ducati pair of Giugliano & Davies and Aprilias Guintoli and Melandri setting the pace out front. Crashes from Baz and Giugliano gifted Sykes a 5th place finish.

The relatively new father recovered his form in race two to bring his ZX10R Kawasaki home in 3rd spot, only losing a further four points to championship rival Guintoli, instead of a potential nine. Sykes heads to Magny Cours in 3 weeks time with a 31 point lead over Guintoli.

The results from Jerez have drawn questions around ‘team orders’ once more, particularly in the Aprilia camp. Sykes would not be sitting so pretty at the top of the standings this morning had Aprilia overlords instructed Melandri to gift team mate Guintoli the win on both occasions. Some might say that the Italian factory have shot themselves in the foot having lost out on a potential extra ten points to close in on Kawasaki’s champion elect. With two rounds left and 100 points available, a 31 point lead will be substantially more difficult to decimate rather than the 21 point lead which it could so very easily have been. We suspect Guintoli will have had a stern exchange of words with the decision makers in his squad…

Sykes commented: “A lot of hard riding got me the podium in race two because physically it was really difficult. I had to use a lot of rider input. We made some changes in race two and came close to the front in third place. There was nothing more I could do and tried my hardest. I always thought this weekend could be a little bit uphill. Overall, I have to say I am satisfied, particularly as we had some misfortunes in race one. We did a decent job and we have not lost too much ground. I am very motivated and we have tried a lot of things this weekend. We will continue with our racing season and the guys have worked super hard to cater to my requests and needs here, so it was nice to repay them with a podium finish in race two.”

Team mate Loris Baz has been nipping at the heels of his team mate all year long. Riding on a wave of confidence, perhaps due to his reported MotoGP signing for next year with the Aspar squad, Baz attempted to keep with the Aprilia duo at the front of the pack in race one before crashing out at around half race distance. His form dipped slightly in race two however, where the Frenchman only managed to finish 7th. He now lies 5th in the championship standings.

“In race one I touched with Melandri on my handlebar – and that is racing sometimes. Maybe I did not give him enough space when I saw him. I thought he was going to take the corner straight away but instead he pulled the bike straight – maybe he lost the front or something – and then he touched my handlebar. It was a shame because I could have won that one. We did not change anything for race two but the bike did not feel the same and I am not sure what happened. We could have done something really good here and taken some good big but I lost some instead.”

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