Tom Sykes Wins Epic Battle Over Baz and Melandri

Larry Lawrence | April 13, 2014
  Loris Baz  left  and Tom Sykes made it a great weekend at Aragon  with Sykes and Baz going 1-2 in both World Superbike races.  Gold   Goose photo

Photography by Gold & Goose

Tom Sykes did it again in race two at Motorland Aragon, but this time he had to overcome brilliant last-lap challenges by his teammate Loris Baz and Aprilia’s veteran Marco Melandri. Sykes was flawless under relentless pressure, which saw him lose the lead, albeit briefly to both Baz and Melandri, including a last-lap stab on Melandri’s part. In the end Sykes calmly withstood the attacks and came out ahead by 0.338 over Baz. Melandri was right there in third, just 0.470 behind the winner.

As a result of the double win Sykes takes moved from fifth to take over the Superbike World Championship lead. It marked the 16th career WSBK victory for Sykes.

Like in race one it was Sykes getting a perfect launch and leading the pack into turn one with Baz slipping into line in second. Giugliano ran third early, but succumbed to pressure from Rea in the early going.

Reigning British Superbike champ Alex Lowes crashed out on the third lap. Last year’s Aragon double winner Chaz Davies went down on lap four, while running fourth.

Sykes held the lead, but didn’t quite look like he was able to open up the gap as quickly as he did in the first race. As the race entered the middle stages the top six had gapped the rest of the field with Sykes leading the way over Baz, Rea, Giugliano, Marco Melandri and Niccolo Canepa. Eugene Laverty headed up the rest of the field, getting past Toni Elias and Leon Haslam. Leon Camier ran tenth, leading the EVO machines.

In the second half Baz held steady pressure on his teammate, but Sykes showed no signs of major concern. Melandri was the rider on the move, getting past both Giugliano and Rea and seemingly easily closing the gap on the leading Kawasaki duo.

With three laps to go things really heated up. Baz outbraking Sykes, but getting in too deep into the turn and Sykes quickly repassing. Then Melandri shot up on the inside of Baz to take over second.

On the final lap Melandri had a go at Sykes. He got past on the brakes going into the tight lefthander coming off Aragon’s long back straight, but the Italian was too hot into the turn and both the Kawasakis zipped underneath the Aprilia coming out of the turn and that’s the way they finished.

Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) was fourth, with race one podium finisher Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) completing the top six.

Race one EVO winner Leon Camier (BMW Motorrad Italia) was involved in a race long dual with Althea Racing Ducati’s Niccolo Canepa and local rider David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) with Salom taking the EVO honors after a last lap mistake from the BMW rider dropped him to 12th overall, handing the category victory to the local rider ahead of Canepa.

EBR riders Aaron Yates matched his first race finish of 17th, while Geoff May completed his first World Superbike race in 20th.

Sykes had a big smile on his face in the post-race press conference.

“I had to work for that one,” Sykes said. “The first race was quite nice, but in race two the temperature for me was at the cut-off point. In free practice we tried the soft tire and the bike was awesome. I could make 58 lows very consistent, but in the race after five laps it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to work hard.”

Sykes joked that his crew chief would be paying the price for what he felt was a questionable tire choice of the soft over the hard compound.

“Definitely tonight my crew chief Marcel (Duinker) has to buy the drinks after little decision, after a discussion we had. The two guys (Baz and Melandri) kept me honest. It was a good race and I think the spectators would have enjoyed it, so hopefully it’s the same in Assen.”

Earlier in the day PJ Jacobsen got a great start and led most of the first lap of the World Supersport race, but seemed to have an issue with his bike early on and dropped to 14th by the finish.

Motorland Aragon – Race results (2)
1. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 17 laps
2. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +0.338s
3. Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing RSV4 +0.470s
4. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 +5.429s
5. Jonathan Rea GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR +8.861s
6. Eugene Laverty IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +15.986s
7. Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati SBK 1199 Panigale R +18.206s
8. Leon Haslam GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR +25.513s
9. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 +25.823s
10. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +38.949s (E)
11. Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199 Panigale R +39.413s (E)
12. Leon Camier GBR BMW Italia S1000RR +41.486s (E)
13. Sheridan Morais RSA IRON BRAIN Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 02.587s (E)
14. Luca Scassa ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 09.720s (E)
15. Fabien Foret FRA MAHI Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 14.046s (E)
16. Alessandro Andreozzi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 14.233s (E)
17. Aaron Yates USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX +1m 35.195s
18. Imre Toth HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1m 37.781s
19. Peter Sebestyen HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1m 54.547s (E)
20. Geoff May USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX +1m 57.166s

Not Classified
21. Michel Fabrizio ITA IRON BRAIN Kawasaki ZX-10R 13 laps completed (E)
22. Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R 9 laps completed (E)
23. Claudio Corti ITA MV Agusta RC F3RR 5 laps completed
24. Chaz Davies GBR Ducati SBK 1199 Panigale R 3 laps completed
25. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 1 lap completed

Ayrton Badovini ITA Bimota Alstare BB3 (E) *
Christian Iddon GBR Bimota Alstare BB3 (E) *

* Ineligible to score points, removed from results (Badovini across the line 12th, Iddon DNF)

5. J. REA HONDA 48


Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor

In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.