MAGNY-COURS, France – The battle for the ultimate prize in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship is still open, despite the resounding double victory scored by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) at Magny-Cours on Sunday. Sykes holds 38 points over Eugene Laverty and 39 on Sylvain Guintoli with one event remaining. The factory Aprilia riders completed the podium in both occasions, even after the dramatic finale of Race 2.
“It is great to score a double win here,” Sykes said. “We made two small changes in the bike to race two, when you are on the edge all the time you have got very small changes that make a big outcome.
“Magny-Cours was generous to me, the bike and all at Kawasaki, so this was great. It was spitting with rain at the end of race two and that was difficult, but I had a big gap to manage. We still have some work to do but the good thing is that we have been there or thereabouts all season.”
Sykes scored victory in the first World Superbike race of the day, leading the way from lights to the Red Flag that was waved during lap 19, following the crash suffered by Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini Kawasaki).
The Brit was able to pull away from the rest of the field, except for Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), in the early stages of the race, with the duo able to lap consistently in the 1:38s. Sykes’ pace, though, was too fast even for the Frenchman, as the KRT rider managed to put a safe margin between himself and his rival as the race progressed.
Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) crossed the line a lonely third to complete the podium ahead of Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia), very competitive in the opening laps before losing ground from the top, Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) and Michele Pirro (Team Ducati Alstare), who rode an incredible maiden race in the series to end up sixth.
In the first half of the race Pirro was involved in a spectacular five-way battle for sixth place, along with Pata Honda riders Michel Fabrizio and Leon Haslam, Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia) and Vincent Philippe (FIXI Crescent Suzuki). Elias, who made his WSBK debut last month in Turkey, lost control of his Aprilia RSV4 at turn 13 during the 16th lap, taking out Philippe in the process.
The difficult first race for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki was completed by local rider Jules Cluzel’s crash in the early stages, preceded by the one occurred to works BMW rider Chaz Davies.
Sykes made a clean sweep of the French Round thanks to a dominant win in Race 2, which completed the third double-victory for the Kawasaki Racing Team rider this year. The Championship leader got a perfect start out of pole and steadily pulled away, to place a considerable gap between himself and the chasing duo of Laverty and Guintoli.
As slight drizzle started to fall on the French circuit, the factory Aprilia riders was battling hard for second place, when both crashed on their own at turn five, causing a Red Flag situation that led to an early end of the race. Laverty and Guintoli successfully made it back to the pits and, as final results were based on the last lap completed by all riders – the 21st – they finished second and third respectively.
“Tom was on another planet today,” Laverty admitted. “I tried to catch him in the early laps but he was pulling away out of slow turns. I battled with Sylvain in the end, usually I don’t like this type of situations because I respect him and we’re still both in contention, but every point can make a difference in this part of the season.
“I’m happy about the two results, even though our target was to narrow our gap from the leader.”
Giugliano ended up fourth ahead of Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), Philippe, substitute rider for Leon Camier, and other works BMW rider Melandri.
Lorenzo Lanzi (Mesaroli Transports A.S. Ducati) scored a encouraging ninth in what has been his WSBK return behind Elias, with Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) completing the top-10.
Technical problems ruled Pata Honda riders Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio out of the race, while Cluzel was able to jump back on his GSX-R, after a crash on lap 13, to finish 14th.
With the season finale to be held at Jerez on October 18-20, Sykes further extended his lead in the standings to 37 points over Laverty and 38 on Guintoli.
Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) clinched his first ever World Title on Sunday after a second place finish in the World Supersport race behind winner Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki). The indomitable 23-year-old from Great Britain, rode a superb race with no tactics involved, even though he just needed to finish in the points to be awarded the Supersport Championship.
The race was red-flagged during the final lap following the crash suffered by Christian Iddon (ParkinGO MV Agusta Corse), who high-sided while running in third place. The English rider was able to make it back to the pits within the time limit for his maiden podium in the series, as final results were based on the previous lap.
Lowes, Sofuoglu and Iddon put up an incredible show for the win, while Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) took the most out a five-way fight for fourth that also involved Sheridan Morais (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki), Pata Honda riders Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti, and Roberto Tamburini (Team Honda Lorini).
Zanetti, along with other two riders – Matthieu Lagrive (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston (PTR Honda) – had a crash on the final lap, but he was the only one of the three who successfully rode back, to claim seventh.
Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) won on home soil in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race for a repeat performance of his last year’s maiden victory in the series. The Frenchman led the entire race, which was reduced to nine laps following the horrific crash sustained by Christoffer Bergman (BWG Racing Kawasaki) that, along with the oil on track caused by Sebastien Suchet’s (Team BSR Honda) following incident, brought to a Red Flag situation. The Swedish rider underwent a CAT scan at the local hospital, but he was awake and had full body movement.
While Niccolò Canepa (Barni Racing Ducati) and Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) completed the podium, fourth place Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) successfully retained the STK1000 title.
Alessandro Nocco (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) won Saturday’s STK600 race in dominant fashion. The 16-year-old Italian, in his third race victory of his rookie season, pulled away in the opening laps to cross the line six seconds ahead of his nearest rivals. Christian Gamarino (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) and Nocco’s team mate Franco Morbidelli put up a great show in the final stages of the race. The current Championship leader snatched second place by just 0.005s, an important achievement for Morbidelli who holds now a 10-point advantage in the standings on both Gamarino and Nocco.
Augusto Fernandez (DS Junior Team) won the Pata European Junior Cup, powered by Honda race at Magny-Cours after a titanic battle with Hungarian Peter Sebestyen (World Management) and Javier Orellana (Europfoods).
The race was shortened to five laps following a multiple crash at the first start that involved several riders including Jake Lewis (Jake Lewis Racing), who is still Championship leader.
World Superbike Race One Results
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 18 Laps/79.398km in 29:38.830 (160.686km/h)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +2.146
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +10.643
4. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) +15.687
5. Marco Melandri (BMW) +23.573
6. Michele Pirro (Ducati) +33.848
7. Michel Fabrizio (Honda) +37.599
8. Leon Haslam (Honda) +37.903
9. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) +38.181
10. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) +51.604
World Superbike Race Two Results
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 21 Laps/92.631km in 34:36.149 (160.620km/h)
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +11.091
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +11.337
4. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) +23.008
5. Chaz Davies (BMW) +25.724
6. Vincent Philippe (Suzuki) +34.762
7. Marco Melandri (BMW) +36.219
8. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +40.957
9. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) +43.713
10. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) +53.188
World Superbike Standings (Round 13 of 14)
1.Tom Sykes 411
2. Eugene Laverty 374
3. Sylvain Guintoli 373
4. Marco Melandri 339
5. Chaz Davies 270
6. Davide Giugliano 195
7. Michel Fabrizio 186
8. Loris Baz 180
9. Jonathan Rea 176
10. Jules Cluzel 162
11. Ayrton Badovini 127
12. Leon Camier 114
13. Leon Haslam 91
14. Max Neukirchner 84
15. Carlos Checa 80