MAGNY-COURS, France – The penultimate round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship witnessed a change of momentum for the title race, which will be decided on Nov. 2 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Thanks to a win and a second place in the two wet races at Magny-Cours on Sunday, Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) narrowed the gap to leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) to just 12 points.
The 32-year-old Frenchman was cheered on by a vocal and enthusiastic home crowd that numbered some 74,514 over the race weekend.
“It’s been a great weekend for me and the team, as we managed to close the gap to the leader,” Guintoli said. “As soon as I saw the weather forecast for today, I immediately thought there would have been a good chance to make some ground to Tom.
“I took some risks at the beginning but once I built a good lead I kept focused and tried to avoid any mistake, in order to get the best possible result. I’m very happy although I’m already thinking about the Qatari Round, as it will be the title decider. It’s a track I know quite well, I like it and I think it will suit the RSV4 well. I wish we were racing there tomorrow!”
Marco Melandri, who was second and first in the two encounters, completed the perfect race meeting for the Italian works manufacturer. The former 250cc World Champion showed great form once again by stepping atop the podium for the sixth time in 12 races.
Sykes on the other hand did his best to contain the damage by finishing the two encounters in fourth place after claiming an impressive pole position in dry conditions the day before, when he took the outright fastest lap ever recorded at the circuit.
“In race one that was the limit,” Sykes admitted. “I wanted to go faster but unfortunately we have had some limitations for some time in wet conditions and we cannot just quite get to where we need to be. For race two we were also restricted by conditions. It was a big shame because we know I can go much, much faster.
“Given the conditions these results are better than I expected, so there is one bonus. I wanted to fight with Sylvain and win the race but first I needed to finish the race. It could have been a lot worse but it could have been better. We are still in the best position in the championship so we need to go to Qatar and hopefully it lives up to its reputation as a desert and we will come out swinging.”
Two titles were decided on Sunday as Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado grabbed the ultimate prize of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup after a dramatic final race that saw his title rival Luca Savadori crash on the last lap, while Augusto Fernandez (WIL Sport) raised the champion’s trophy for the 2014 Pata European Junior Cup, powered by Honda.
Guintoli won Race 1 in front of an enthusiastic crowd by edging out at the finish line his teammate Melandri. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) scored a well deserved third place ahead of KRT duo of Sykes and Loris Baz.
Because of the weather, the race distance was reduced to 19 laps and after a number of riders fell in the warm up session, the opening laps were very tentative for several riders.
In the early laps it was Rea who led the way with the spray making it extremely difficult for the mid-field riders. Behind him Guintoli gave chase after passing Sykes at the end of lap 1.
Guintoli was soon ahead of Rea and the Frenchman began to ease away, much to the delight of the French crowd, who were also braving the conditions.
By one-third distance Melandri was playing shotgun to his team mate ahead of Baz, who had also overhauled Sykes, and Rea who began to lose touch with the leaders.
With five laps to go Melandri had closed to within a second and the Aprilia duo were left to fight it out for the win with the victory eventually going the way of Guintoli after it appeared that Aprilia team orders intervened.
In the EVO category, Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) claimed a solid 10th position to close the gap on EVO points leader David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team), who elected not to ride.
Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team), Xavi Fores (3C Racing Team) and Alessandro Andreozzi (Team Pedercini) all crashed without injury with Giugliano and Laverty re-joining to finish seventh and 19th respectively.
In similar conditions to the opening race of the day, Melandri won Race 2 at Magny-Cours as he crossed the finish line with a 2.6-second advantage over Guintoli. Thanks to his sixth win in the last 12 races, Melandri elevated himself to third place in the standings, while his teammate further narrowed the gap to series leader Sykes down to 12 points.
Earlier leaders Giugliano and Rea both crashed spectacularly before remounting only to retire to the pits. Rea’s crash left the Aprilia pairing of Guintoli and Melandri to dual it out for the victory with the Italian getting the better of his French teammate this time out.
Leon Haslam rode superbly aboard his Honda, overhauling reigning champion Sykes in the closing stages to take his first podium since Misano 2012 and his first since joining the Pata Honda World Superbike team.
Behind the top four, Lorenzo Lanzi (3C Racing Ducati) and his teammate Max Neukirchner completed the top six.
In the EVO fight, top honours went to Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati). Barrier crashed twice, the second signalling the end of his race. He was uninjured.
The penultimate round of the World Supersport championship was held in difficult conditions over a reduced race distance of 17 laps but cut short after 12 laps.
Full of drama with a number of riders crashing out, the victory eventually went in emphatic style to Frenchman Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), who claimed his third win of the year by over 18 seconds.
Newly crowned champion Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) finished second after falling, remounting and then passing several riders to move back onto the podium on lap 10.
Roberto Rolfo (Go Eleven Kawasaki) started 17th to win a tense fight for the final podium position ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport), Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) and Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha), who completed the top six.
Mercado (Barni Racing) became the 2014 FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup winner after finishing fourth in Sunday’s final race at Magny-Cours.
Leading from lap one it was his arch rival Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini) who led, the Italian looking odds-on to finish second in the race and steal the crown until he crashed spectacularly on the final lap.
Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier by ASPI) claimed his first ever race victory in front of a delighted partisan crowd. Romain Lanusse (Team Pedercini) made it French 1-2 while Jed Metcher (EAB Racing) completed the podium.
Fernandez (WIL Sport) clinched the Pata European Junior Cup, powered by Honda title after an intense 10-lap race at Magny-Cours, held under wet conditions. The young Spaniard, who had to finish the race in the top 15, was third at the flag behind race winner Javier Orellana (Europ Food SL) and wildcard Dorian Laville (Team Laville Mi&Do). Thanks to Sunday’s win, Orellana sealed the runner-up spot.
Superbike Race 1 Results
1.Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 19 Laps/83.809km in 36:45.206 (136.818km/h)
2. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +2.257
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +5.954
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +15.670
5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +16.149
6. Leon Haslam (Honda) +29.411
7. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +57.319
8. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) +59.306
9. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) +1:12.274
10. Sylvain Barrier (BMW) +1:22.931
11. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +1:39.670
12. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) +1:42.886
13. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta) +2:03.253
14. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) +1 Lap
15. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) +1 Lap
16. Nicolas Salchaud (MV Agusta) +1 Lap
17. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) +2 Laps
18. Geoff May (EBR) +2 Laps
19. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) +2 Laps
20. Imre Toth (BMW) +3 Laps
RT. Gabor Rizmayer (BMW)
RT. Aaron Yates (EBR)
RT. Xavi Fores (Ducati)
RT. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki)
RT. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
RT. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
RT. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
Superbike Race 2 Results
1.Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 19 Laps/83.809km in 36:25.402 (138.058km/h)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +2.669
3. Leon Haslam (Honda) +16.450
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +20.759
5. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) +46.689
6. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) +58.490
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +1:03.100
8. Caludio Corti (MV Agusta) +1:24.699
9. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +1:27.899
10. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +1:51.706
11. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) +1 Lap
12. Gabor Rizmayer (BMW) +2 Laps
13. Imre Toth (BMW) +2 Laps
RT. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)
RT. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki)
RT. Xavi Fores (Ducati)
RT. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki)
RT. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
RT. Sylvain Barrier (BMW)
RT. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)
RT. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
RT. Geoff May (EBR)
RT. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
RT. Aaron Yates (EBR)
RT. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
RT. Nicolas Salchaud (MV Agusta)
NS. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki)
World Superbike Standings (Round 11 of 12)
1.Tom Sykes 378
2. Sylvain Guintoli 366
3. Marco Melandri 312
4. Jonathan Rea 301
5. Loris Baz 282
6. Chaz Davies 195
7. Leon Haslam 176
8. Davide Giugliano 162
9. Eugene Laverty 154
10. Toni Elias 151
11. Alex Lowes 126
12. David Salom 95
13. Niccolo Canepa 65
14. Jeremy Guarnoni 45
15. Sylvain Barrier 38
16. Leon Camier 37
17. Claudio Corti 25
18. Sheridan Morais 24
19. Alessandro Andreozzi 21
20. Fabien Foret 20
21. Lorenzo Lanzi 19
22. Max Neukirchner 17
23. Luca Scassa 16
24. Bryan Staring 14
25. Gabor Rizmayer 7
26. Kevin Allerton 6
27. Kervin Bos 5
28. Imre Toth 5
29. Ivan Goi 5
30. Riccardo Russo 5
31. Larry Pegram 2
32. Michel Fabrizio 2
33. Romain Lanusse 1
–From WSBK Press Office