Photography by Gold and Goose
Assen, Netherlands (April 28, 2013) -- Tom Sykes turned in one of the most dominating performances ever seen at Assen in World Superbike action in race one Sunday. After getting around Jonathan Rea on the second turn on the first lap, Sykes simply walked away on his factory Kawasaki ZX-10R, building a 9.5 second lead before backing off in the closing laps to win by 8.786 seconds at the flag. It marked the first victory for Sykes on the season and his first win at Assen. The victory moved him from sixth to third in the standings.
While Sykes dominated up front, the race was not void of action, far from it.
The battle for second was one of the most intense of the young season between Pata Honda’s Rea dramatically coming out on top of a race-long battle with Aprilia riders Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty. Each spent time in second and were passed and then charged back. On the final lap Rea, who has a great history at Assen, made his move with about three turns to go, to get in front of Guintoli, with Laverty right there. As the trio rounded the final corner Guintoli tried to move around Rea, but at the finish line came up a half-a-bike length short.
Even though he didn’t quite earn second Guintoli maintained his perfect podium streak to add to his series lead over Chaz Davies. After race one the gap between the two is now 29. Davies, who had a disastorous qualifying session Saturday, started from the very back of the grid after a crash in warm-up destroyed his bike resulting in him being late to the grid. Regardless Davies moved up to finish seventh. He made most of his passes in the early stages of the race.
Loris Baz came out on top of a long fight with Davide Giugliano to round out the top five.
A notable non-finisher was Marco Melandri, the BMW factory rider pulling out after seven laps with some mechanical issue.
After losing the championship last year by a half point, Sykes was considered by many the pre-season favorite, but then he suffered a testing crash breaking his ribs, which hindered him in the season opener in Australia. Then he suffered a mechanical in one of the races at Aragon. But after this morning’s performance it appears Sykes is back - in spite of the consistency of Guintoli - as perhaps the man to beat in the long run.
Even Sykes was surprised at how easily he was able to get away.
“So far so good,” smiled Sykes, who took his sixth-career World Superbike victory. “We did basically all we could. We had a very strong winter testing, we learned a lot, got a lot of information. The first two rounds of the championship were a very slow start to the season. Obviously we’re now finding where we need to be. To be honest I surprised myself a little bit. The Zed-X10R is working great. We have some great people in my corner and they’ve given me a great package that I can do quite a lot of what I want to do with the bike. That race was nice. To see the pit board gap getting bigger every lap is magical for a rider.”
Rea earned his 30th-career rostrum and was thrilled with his finish, but stunned by Sykes’ speed.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” he said. “We had absolutely nothing for Tom today. He was kind of on a different planet, so congratulations to him and his team. I have to be happy with the way I rode. I did my best. When you put 100 percent effort in and get a result like this it’s always satisfying. It was good fun with Sylvain. It’s not always fun at that speed, but it was close and safe and we both arrived at the rostrum. I just want to say good luck to Leon (Haslam) today. He’s going in for his operation (on a broken leg). I hope it all goes well for him. We need him back at the track because his pace was good and he deserved to be in here too.”
For Guintoli his plan of racking up points with podium finishes is working to perfection.
“That was a big change from Aragon where both my races were a bit boring, this one was definitely not,” said the Frenchman. “It was great to fight. Tom had a fantastic pace at the front. The fight with Johnny was brilliant. The last lap I knew he was very strong in that sector, so I passed him before. The back part of the track I could hear the music… I knew he was coming. He came past, but I think we almost drew on the line. So yeah, he pulled something out with the sleeve and made it happen for him. I enjoyed it and for championship it is great.”
It appears Sykes is the rider to beat. He’ll try to see if he can overtake Davies for second in the championship.
The second race is also live on BeIN Sports.
Assen - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'35.042
2. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'43.828
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'43.834
4. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'44.267
5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'49.273
6. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'51.192
7. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'57.612
8. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'59.793
9. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 36'05.353
10. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 36'10.319
11. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 36'19.397
12. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'27.622
13. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 36'34.778
14. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 36'37.052
15. Mark Aitchison (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 36'56.903
16. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 37'00.759
17. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 37'17.752
RT. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR