PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
It was a battle between the factory Kawasakis in race one of the British World Superbike round at Donington Park. And to the delight of the home crowd it was Yorkshireman Tom Sykes that would take the win over his teammate Loris Baz in the closing laps of the race. It was a great victory for the reigning World Champion who made an epic comeback from 11th to take top honors on the podium and retake the Championship lead.
But it wasn’t easy. Sykes not only had to overcome a third row start, but also a poor start that had him “out in the marbles,” as he would say, after fighting for the same real estate on the racetrack with his teammate into turn one. Then he had some mechanical issues – his bike kept cutting out – on the first lap that almost had him pull into the pits. But fortunately for Sykes his luck turned.
“Luckily the Ninja coughed it off its chest. She cleared up,” Sykes said about his early race bike woes. “It took me awhile to settle in. I was down in 10th or 11th and I was just driven to pass the guys. We had a lot of work to do. I knew Loris [Baz] had the great pace in practice and I’d seen that he was in front. It was a case of head down, keep doing what the bike’s letting me do and let’s go for that race win.”
Sykes’ teammate Baz led for most of the race. And while the young Frenchman made a valiant effort to reclaim his lead from his Sykes, he had to settle for second.
“Yeah when I saw the blue sky coming after the warmup I was happy because I knew I had a good pace,” Baz said. “So I tried my best from the beginning to go well, but they was fast behind me and I couldn’t get the gap I wanted to. I still led the race for nearly the last lap. But Tom [Sykes] was really fast at the end. I tried my best to overtake him…I nearly lost the front twice when I pass him back. I tried my best so I’m really happy.”
Completing the podium was Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes. The British Superbike Champion was very happy to not only get his first dry World Superbike podium, but also lead the race early in front of the home crowd.
“To get my first dry podium at my home race is fantastic,” said Lowes. “We’ve had a difficult-ish start to the year, but the bike’s improving all the time. My confidence is getting better and yeah I really enjoyed that race.
“I led my first ever World Superbike race at the start and got a little bit excited. And then hung in there for the podium at the end. So yeah the bike was fantastic. It was working really well. Well done to the two guys in the front. They were too fast for me in the end.”
After an early lead with teammate Sylvain Guintoli, Aprilia’s Marco Melandri faded back but held on to fourth, finishing ahead of Welshman Chaz Davies on the factory Ducati. Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea had grip issues and had to settle for sixth, moving to 11 points behind Sykes.
Melandri’s teammate Sylvain Guintoli ultimately finished seventh after running off at the Fogarty Esses on lap 12. The other man on the Pata Honda, Leon Haslam finished a disappointing eighth after a front row grid spot earned in yesterday’s wet Superpole. The team sited brake issues for Haslam at his home race.
In ninth was former Moto2 Champion Toni Elias on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia. And rounding out the top 10 was David Salom on the EVO Kawasaki, beating Althea Racing’s Niccolo Canepa in the last corner to take the position and top EVO honors.
Pole sitter Davide Giugliano crashed out of the lead group on lap 16. Lowes teammate Laverty also did not finish after tucking the front in earlier on in the race.
Ominous clouds were in the background at the end of the race, so the sunshine and nice conditions in race one may not last. It will be interesting to see what mother nature brings to the table in race two.
2014 Donington World Superbike
Race One Results
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
2. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
3. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
5. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
8. Leon Haslam (Honda)
9. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
10. David Salom (Kawasaki)