Photography by Gold & Goose
Tom Sykes firmly established himself as the rider to beat in the year’s World Superbike Series after earning another dominating victory in race two at Imola. This time it was fellow Brit Jonathan Rea who was second behind Sykes, but it was a distant runner-up finish, 5.032 seconds in arrears. It marked the sixth victory of the season for Sykes, but more importantly it put the Kawasaki man into the series lead for the first time this season.
Mr. Consistency Sylvain Guintoli recovered from blowing a motor on his factory Aprilia in the first race to take third, but it doesn’t appear the consistent results are going to be good enough any longer. If Sykes continues on a roll Guintoli is going to have to start winning races.
The tightest race of the day was between BMW teammates Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies. Davies passed Melandri with two laps to go to take over fourth, but Melandri got him back. Out of the last turn Davies gave it another go with a bold inside attempt, but nearly high-sided when he got on the gas forcing him to resign the position to Melandri.
This one Sykes controlled from start. He got a perfect start and was off and running being chased by Davide Giugliano on the Althea Aprilia. On lap three the pace proved to be too much for Giugliano and he crashed out while running second. That moved Rea to second, just ahead of Eugene Laverty. On lap five it was Laverty’s turn to make a mistake and he crashed out his Aprilia from third.
As in race one Sykes’ pace was just too much and Rea was forced to settle for second. It marked the Honda rider’s third podium of the season.
Sykes now leads Guintoli by six points (235-229), just shy of the halfway point of the season. Laverty is a distant third with 190 points.
Sykes was understated in the press conference for a man who just took over the series lead for the first time.
“Overall I’m really happy,” said the new championship leader. “The team deserves it. The small change we made for race two looked like it worked. I really suffered with a cramp on the last few laps, which is a first. Overall luckily we had a cushion. The guys were keeping me honest at the beginning of the race, but after that we managed to get a little bit of a gap so it was a great feeling.”
Rea was happy with his result and spoke of the speed of Sykes.
“It’s always satisfying when you ride your ass off for a result,” Rea said. “And getting on the podium was good. Tom was incredible today. I just didn’t have that pace. I thought we could maybe fight for him maybe for a race win, but we’ve got to be happy. My team and I have come a long way from struggle at the start of the season, so I hope this is the start of our year.”
Guintoli didn’t seem overly concerned with losing the series lead for the first time this season.
“Of course the championship is long,” said the Frenchman. “For sure race one was disappointing, but mechanicals can spoil it for you. Sometimes it doesn’t go 100 percent. I would have wanted to keep this record, but it wasn’t to be. Race two I just tried to give my best. At the start I was stuck behind Eugene and couldn’t really get past. When he crashed I pushed really hard to come back on Johnny. I lost for myself a few times and I just couldn’t catch him. I gave everything I had, tried my best, so I’m happy in that respect. Third position is not good. Tom is leading the championship now, but you know he deserves it; he’s been riding really good. Like I say, the championship is long, so we will keep riding hard and keep the chin up.”
The series now has a three-week break before resuming at Moscow Raceway in Russia on July 19-21.
Imola - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 2
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 37'51.947
2. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 37'56.979
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'02.148
4. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 38'05.067
5. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 38'05.577
6. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'15.896
7. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 38'17.367
8. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'28.458
9. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 38'32.131
10. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'33.047
11. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 38'34.835
12. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'44.129
13. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'48.299
14. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 39'07.939
15. Noriyuki Haga (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 39'17.157
RT. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 7'16.358
RT. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3'36.790
RT. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 3'47.718