Photography by Gold & Goose
MONTEREY, CA, SEPT. 28 - It may have taken three attempts and two hours and 50 minutes to finish, but the first of two World Superbike races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca came down to the final few laps with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes passing BMW’s Chaz Davies in turn 10 on the 10th of 12 laps to take victory in the twice restarted race.
The win was Sykes’ seventh on the season and it increased his lead in the World Championship to 22 points over Sylvain Guintoli, the Aprilia factory rider suffering the most from the twice restarted race. Guintoli came into the U.S. round of the series trailing Sykes by just eight points, but the Frenchman – who earned pole position earlier today - could only muster a fifth-place finish.
“To be honest, Sylvain [Guintoli] was riding really strong,” Sykes said. “He definitely saved a little bit in the pocket for the racing today, but when it counts in the last leg he had a little bit of an issue, which is a shame. We came together in turn one and it pushed my brake lever down so that was a little bit awkward to deal with for the first few laps, but we soon got our heads together really. The short race definitely favored some of our competitors with the BMW guys were… I was going to say something then, but this is a family show. They were very fast out of the trap so I was really pushing to stay with those guys but in the end it played out for myself and the ZX-10R, but tomorrow’s another day.”
Davies ended up second after getting the holeshot and leading 10 of the 12 laps of the final portion of the race. He ended up 1.2 seconds behind Sykes.
Third place went to Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty, the Irishman taking advantage of Marco Melandri’s aggressiveness on the final lap. With Melandri trying to pass his teammate Davies in turn five, the Italian got in too hot and ran wide, opening the door for Laverty who hounced the veteran for the rest of the lap, beating him to the line by .2 of a second.
Then came Guintoli, the pole sitter leading the first part of the race by 1.8 seconds when the first red flag came out. In the second part of the race, Guintoli again led when the red flag was shown with both of the red flags brought about by crashes and the resulting air fence repairs. Guintoli will most definitely be seeing red tonight when he closes his eyes after slipping to an eventual fifth place when he seemed destined to victory.
Sixth place went to Davide Guigliano on the Althea Racing Aprilia, the Italian ending up just .1 of a second behind Guintoli at the finish. Then came Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel, Althea Racing Ducati’s Toni Elias, Ayrton Badovini on the factory Ducati and Kawasaki-mounted Mark Aitchison, the Australian rounding out the top 10.
Of the Americans, only Blake Young finished, the fill-in rider for the injured Leon Camier on the Fixi Crescent Suzuki ending up 12th.
The two Michael Jordan Motorsports riders both crashed with Danny Eslick crashing out on the fifth lap of the first start, his GSX-R1000 damaging the air fence and bringing out the red flag. Roger Lee Hayden lasted until the seventh lap of the second start when he crashed right after Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam in turn four, with the air fence again getting damaged enough to prompt a red flag. All three riders – Eslick, Hayden and Haslam – escaped injury.
World Superbike – Race One
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
September 28, 2014
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
2. Chaz Davies (BMW)
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
4. Marco Melandri (BMW)
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
6. Davide Guigliano (Aprilia)
7. Jean Cluzel (Suzuki)
8. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
9. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati)
10. Mark Atchison (Kawasaki)
12. Blake Young (Suzuki)