Photography by Gold & Goose
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (Oct. 20, 2013) –Eugene Laverty made a brilliant last-turn pass on Marco Melandri to win World Superbike race one at Jerez. So while Laverty did what he needed to do, so did Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes. Sykes ran a crafty race, running third almost the entire way, held off Sylvain Guintoli, and finished six seconds back on the final rung of the podium. That gave the Brit enough points to clinch the 2013 World Superbike Championship.
Laverty got a rocket of a start on his Aprilia and from pole quickly shot to the front. He was a man on a mission. Sykes meanwhile got a solid start too and ran second. His goal - a clean race and a top-three result to clinch the world title. BMW’s Melandri and Aprilia’s second man Guintoli ran third and fourth in the early going.
On the second lap Melandri shot up the inside of Sykes in a tight right hander to take over second. Sykes seemed none too eager to get into a battle with anyone.
As the race progressed Melandri stayed on Laverty’s rear wheel, but didn’t seem anxious to pass. Sykes ran where he needed in third, but was being threatened by Guintoli the entire way. Toni Elias passed Davide Giugliano and ran a distant fifth.
On lap 11 Leon Haslam pitted his Pata Honda, shaking his head in frustration.
The race up front had no passes the rest of the way until with two laps to go Melandri, who’d been pressuring Laverty all race, made a block pass on Laverty for the lead. It wasn’t exactly clean either. He ran his BMW up inside the Aprilia and couldn’t quite complete the turn forcing Laverty extremely wide. Regardless it put the Italian up front. But Laverty had something left. On the last set of turns he passed Melandri back with an amazing move around the outside and held on to win by 0.218 seconds.
It was Laverty’s best win of the year. It also helped Aprilia earn the manufacturers championship.
Sykes meanwhile smartly controlled the race from third, running only as hard as he needed to collect the coveted title. On the cool down lap the emotions flowed. He’d finally won the championship after coming up short by just a half point last season. He took off his helmet and bathed in the warm cheers from the Spanish fans.
It marked sweet redemption for Sykes, who many experts had written off several years ago after he was clearly upstaged by teammate Ben Spies with the factory Yamaha team. Similarly victory was sweet for the long maligned Kawasaki team, which for years had been considered a perennial also ran. It was the first World Superbike Championship for Kawasaki since American Scott Russell won aboard a green machine in 1993.
“There’s definitely quite a few responses I’d like to put out there,” Sykes said, eluding to his doubters. “I do that by standing here. I’m absolutely over the moon. So emotional. I shed a few tears on the slowing down lap. I’m shaking like… well I won’t say what I’m shaking like, but let’s say very emotional and let’s say lots of sacrifices to get here. Finally we’re here and what a feeling. Hat’s off to the two guys in front there. They did what they had to do, but luckily this was our moment. It was so close last year. I won’t go into thanking everybody, they know who they are. I’ll catch up with those guys later. I’ll enjoy the moment, try to settle down and go try to get it in race two. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Laverty was even proud of his last corner pass on Melandri.
“It was one of my best overtakes I have to say,” Laverty smiled. “In the last corner, coming through the last fast rights my mind was going at 1000 miles per hour. I had to work out quickly where to go and once I seen Marco sitting upright I switched sides. It was a split-second decision and it worked out for me. The way that move after leading the race most of it and Marco made an aggressive move on the penultimate lap and we’ve spoken about it already, so that’s all clear.
“Congratulations to Tom on the championship. Tom and Kawasaki have moved the goalpost very far this year.”
Race two is on beIN Sports at 9:30 am Eastern.
Jerez - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'00.919
2. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'01.137
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 36'07.600
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'10.246
5. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'21.365
6. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 36'28.552
7. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'29.540
8. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 36'30.467
9. Xavi Fores (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 36'30.883
10. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 36'37.900
11. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 36'37.927
12. Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'44.098
13. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 36'48.179
14. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale 36'53.073
15. Lorenzo Lanzi (Mesaroli Transports A.S.) Ducati 1098R 36'53.831
16. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 36'55.333
17. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 37'03.028
18. Broc Parkes (Monster Energy Yamaha - Yart) Yamaha YZF R1 37'03.487
19. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 37'26.486
RT. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 33'25.707