WSBK Donington: Sykes smashes records and rivals

‘Its no secret I like Donington’

Photo: Brian Tyler Photography

Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes had a dream weekend at the sole UK World Superbike round at Donington Park, securing pole position, lap record  and his third double win in a row in front of his home crowd.

As we’ve seen in previous years from the Yorkshireman, Sykes came out his garage and dominated in an overcast Derbyshire leaving his team-mate looking out of character and on edge as he faught to catch him.

15,000 fans turned up to see Sykes dominate, as home hero Leon Haslam suffered with his injury and Chaz Davies was able to secure two podiums at his self confessed ‘bogey’ track. Alex Lowes was able to salvage a solid result at home, as reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli continues to suffer.

Race Report

Race one:
Sykes was able to ‘narrowly’ beat his team-mate to the victory in race one after Jonathan Rea seemed to back off from a tense fight for the victory in the closing laps. Swapping positions and perhaps paint the Kawasaki pair looked to be in a lock out for the win to the very end.

Haslam was the early leader however something didn’t seem to go quite right for the local hero as he slipped back into fourth following a battle with Davies towards the end of the 23 lap race.

Pata Honda’s Michael Vd Mark had a tough race one as a crash made him enter the pits before he was black flagged for going into his garage and returning out on track. Setting a new lap record on lap seven it looked as if Rea would be able to fight with Sykes but by the 18th lap Sykes was relentless in his attack and was able to pull a gap on his team-mate.

Race two:
In an almost carbon copy start to race one, Sykes takes the lead ahead of Haslam and Rea at an overcast Donington Park. Not letting his injury hinder him in-front of his home crowd Haslam was looking comfortable in a Kawasaki sandwich, however he soon slipped back down into fourth position which he narrowly secured ahead of Davide Giugliano.

On the second lap of 23 Rea suffered a massive moment on the exit of Coppice corner as his ZX-10R machine lost the back end and tried to throw him from the bike, but the Ulsterman was able to save it and rejoin the race down in 7th.

Vd Mark’s bad luck continued as he entered the pits on lap three. Camier had a tough end to his home race as he crashed out on entry to the Foggy Esses. Giugliano and Alex Lowes were locked in a battle for third position as Lowes put in a risky move on the Italian through the Esses, only to be joined by Rea, who was able to pass them with ease.

By the eighth lap Rea was back up into a top four position and hunting down Davies for third. With six laps to go Rea secured himself second position was able to pull a gap of over two seconds ahead of Davies. Haslam crossed the line in 4th ahead of Giugliano and Lowes.

Result

Race 1
1. Tom Sykes       Kawasaki Racing Team
2. Jonathan Rea   Kawasaki Racing Team
3. Chaz Davies    Aruba.it Ducati Team
4. Leon Haslam   Red Devils Roma Aprilia
5. Aryton Badovini BMW Motorrad Italia
6. Alex Lowes     Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
7. Jordi Torres     Red Devils Roma Aprilia
8. Sylvain Guintoli  PATA Honda
9. Leon Camier   MV Agusta Reparto Corse
10. David Salom   Pedercini Kawasaki

Race 2
1. Tom Sykes       Kawasaki Racing Team
2. Jonathan Rea    Kawasaki Racing Team
3. Chaz Davies     Aruba.it Ducati Team
4. Leon Haslam    Red Devils Roma Aprilia
5. Davide Giuliano  Aruba.it Ducati Team
6. Alex Lowes      Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
7. Jordi Torres      Red Devils Roma Aprilia
8. Sylvain Guintoli   PATA Honda
9. Ayrton Badovini   BMW Motorrad Italia
10. Matteo Baiocco    Althea Racing Ducati


Rider reactions

Sykes doesn’t have an explanation for why he’s so fast at Donington Park but knows it was a dream weekend: “After some battles in race one I had a clean start in race two and I went a little bit faster down Craner and into the Old Hairpin to stop any passes, and away we went. The bike was really nice and I made some 1’27s in the beginning. When I saw that the gap was increasing I just had to be careful in how to manage the race. It is good to win all the last six races here at Donington but there is no real reason why.”

“I did not accept defeat before the races but Donington is one of those circuits where if there is one place where my team-mate was going to really excel it was here.” Rea explains of his hard faught second positions. “I had a big moment in race two and I was really lucky. When I found a rhythm I realised that Tom was on a different racetrack today but I could finish second because. I just put my head down and put some laps together and took second.”

Davies treated his podiums ‘like a win’

Photo: Brian Tyler Photography

In what’s been hailed as a bogey track for Argon winner Chaz Davies, he ends his weekend at home positively: “I’m really pleased with today’s results. Today we simply weren’t on the same level as the Kawasaki’s and doing any better than third was difficult. In race two I didn’t have much grip and also had a small problem off the line that fortunately sorted itself out right away. Let’s say I’ve done all I could here today and we can only be happy.”

“I’m fairly pleased with the results today considering my conditions.” Explains Haslam, who wore a special helmet desgined by a fan this weekend, “Obviously I would have liked to have been on the podium for my fans, but I think that in the end two fourth places are the most we could have aimed for. I started well in both races and then I started feeling the fatigue. In spite of it all, even here we showed that we are in the game.” 

Despite a tough weekend and a tough start to the season for reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli, he takes the positive from the weekend: “It’s was a weekend to assess quite a lot of new parts and there are some good points to take from it. In race two we managed to keep a much better pace at the end of the race. I also had a good battle with my ex-bike and unfortunately just lost that by a tiny bit! The front runners were quite a long way from us today, but we have to keep fighting and keep improving the package for the rest of the season.”

What have we learned? 

Looking at the crowd numbers, as 30,000 made it over the whole weekend and only 15,000 on race day it’s clear despite their best efforts Donington was again unable to attract a large crowd for the World Superbike race, and with two all British podiums it begs the question why.
If the fans was close racing, that’s what they got in race one, if they want local hero’s they got that from World Supersport with Kyle Ryde and if they want rivalry well you can’t get much better than two team-mates swapping paint.
Donington provides some of the best views in the UK for racing, so is it up to Dorna to get people interested in the series again. We think it needs a bit of personality, which yes it’s full of personalities but there isn’t one rider that stands out and can attract crowds. We feel like a bit of a broken record but something has to be done.

Guintoli has got a big fight on his hands to defend his title. Sitting in sixth in the championship standings after six rounds there’s a bit of a mountain to climb for the Frenchman. He finished on the podium here in race two last season but all he could manage was two eighth position finishes this weekend. Telling the British press this weekend that his chances of defending his championship are almost over, it’s obvious he needs some motivation pumped into him, or has he given up already?

Tweets of the weekend 



Championship Standings 

1. J. REA         KAWASAKI 280
2. L. HASLAM APRILIA        179
3. T. SYKES KAWASAKI 178
4. C. DAVIES DUCATI        155
5. J. TORRES APRILIA        117
6. S. GUINTOLI HONDA         92
7. M. BAIOCCO DUCATI  72
8. A. LOWES SUZUKI         71
9. L. MERCADO DUCATI 70

10. M. VD MARK HONDA  67

Next Race
Round Seven – Portimao, Portugal, 5th, 6th, 7th June 2015

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