NURBURGRING, Germany – Sunday at the Nurburgring was a day of exciting races and injury setbacks for some of the protagonists of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) scored one victory each on the Eifel venue, with Sykes regaining the Championship lead by one point over Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), while the Welshman rode his S1000RR to first place for the first time after the double win at Aragon last April.
On the difficult side of the race day, Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) and Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) all had heavy crashes and got injured, with differing consequences.
Sykes won the first race at the Nurburgring. The race was red-flagged on the 18th lap as a result of two crashes that involved Rea and Camier, who both lost control of their bikes at turn nine on oil left on track by Federico Sandi’s Team Pedercini ZX-10R broken engine.
Once the flag came out, Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) was in the lead after a successful overtake at the first turn but, as the final results were based on the previous lap, Sykes was awarded with the victory, with Melandri’s team mate Davies completing the podium. The three riders, along with Rea, rode together up front, but it was Sykes who led almost the entire race, after overtaking Melandri at the second turn during the opening lap.
Championship leader Guintoli saw his advantage slashed to a single point on Sykes after finishing the race in fourth place, ahead of Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia), Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Aprilia) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike).
Factory Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty ended up 15th after crashing out of turn four in the early stages of the race, and rejoining following a pit-stop.
Home rider Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing Ducati) had to withdraw from the race due to a technical problem occurred on the fourth lap.
Rea sustained a fractured left femur and was due to undergo surgery Sunday night at the military hospital at Koblenz, in which he should stay for the next two or three days, but, even in this case, further updates are expected.
After being immediately assessed at trackside by the medical staff Camier was then flown by Air Ambulance to Stiffungs Klinicum in Koblenz. Camier was observed and scanned for potential neck injuries, but the scans proved negative and he was given the all-clear despite the massive impact.
Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) got back on the top step of the podium after winning the second race of the day, that was red-flagged on the 19th lap after wildcard Matej Smrz (Yamaha Motor Deutschland) suffered a high-side and landed on track next to his YZF-R1.
The Welshman successfully defended the lead in the final laps in a three-way battle with second place Laverty and team mate Melandri. Davies was able to repeat exactly the same results scored last year in the two races, and achieved a long-awaited race win after the double victory at Aragon earlier in 2013.
“I am obviously super happy with the victory in race two,” Davies said. “I was already happy with my podium in race one but I knew we could improve and so we did. We were just slightly struggling in a couple of areas but we worked on that for the second race. The last couple of laps I just put my head down seeing if I could just get away. In the end the red flag came and I was in right place at the right time.”
Race two was characterized by a fierce battle up front for the win. Sykes and Guintoli finished fourth and fifth respectively, after being very close to the front for most of the 18 laps completed. The two riders, though, could not manage to get in the mix for the top-three, as well as sixth place Giugliano, who lost a lot of ground in the closing stages.
The top 10 was completed by Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare), Fabrizio and Neukirchner, with Badovini’s team mate Carlos Checa in 11th place.
Jules Cluzel’s performance was hampered by a temporary technical problem, as the FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider was able to rejoin and to end up 15th.
Sykes and Guintoli are still separated by one point, but the factory Kawasaki rider is now the new leader in the standings, at the end of the 10th round of the season.
“It is very difficult to tell if I could have come back at Marco in the last two laps of race one but the decision to stop the race has gone in our favour for a change,” Sykes said. “I was expecting probably a few more points in race two but it is racing and things like this happen. It seems that we had some limitations in that race, which is a shame because over race distance I was 100 percent confident in myself. It was important to keep Sylvain Guintoli behind me in that second race as we saw how every point counts last year.”
Baz, following the crash he had during the morning’s warm-up, was diagnosed with a fractured C2 vertebra, fortunately with no neurological issues. He will remain under observation at Adenau’s Krakenhaus Maria hospital, that is located near the track, while waiting to be transferred and for the medical checks that will define the plans for recovery.
Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) scored probably the most important win of the season so far, as he crossed the line a lonely first at the Nurburgring , while main rival for the World Supersport title Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) was out of contention from lap 10, after crashing out of the second turn.
Lowes didn’t get the best start off pole, but in just two laps he was able to make his way back into the lead, though unable to pull away at first from the reigning Champion. Once Sofuoglu pulled out of the race, his team mate Fabien Foret was unable to keep the pace of the Brit, so for the points leader it was only a matter of maintaining the gap up to the finish line.
Lowes is now 54 points ahead of Sofuoglu in the standings, and could be crowned champion after the Turkish rider’s home round scheduled for Sept. 15.
Kev Coghlan (DMC-Lorenzini Kawasaki) made an impressive recovery throughout the last part of the race to get his maiden WSS podium finish of his career, after getting the better of Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport) in the closing stages. Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), on the other hand, was in third place when he suffered a technical problem during the 15th lap.
The sixth race of the PATA European Junior Cup, powered by Honda provided another thrilling climax to a race that nobody could predict the winner as the race entered its final lap. As the pack reached the final turn it was Bo Bendsneijder (RT Racing Support), at his second wildcard appearance in the series, who took the lead, holding a slender advantage to claim his second win of the year. Kevin Manfredi (Newton Trasformatori Srl) and Robin Anne (Anne Formation completed the podium.
Sebastian Zielinski won the Cup of Nations final race of the year at the Nurburgring. The wildcard from Poland led the entire race to finish ahead of Tommaso Lorenzetti and Daniel Tibaldo, both riders of the Nuova F.C.C. Corse Yamaha Team.
Sixth place Domenico Fasanella, full-time entry, was awarded the winner of the 2013 edition of the Cup.
World Superbike Point Standings (10 of 14 rounds)*
1.Tom Sykes 287
2. Sylvain Guintoli 286
3. Marco Melandri 257
4. Eugene Laverty 247
5. Chaz Davies 221
6. Loris Baz 180
7. Jonathan Rea 176
8. Michele Fabrizio 156
9. Jules Cluzel 123
10. Davide Giugliano 121
11. Leon Camier 114
12. Ayrton Badovini 107
13. Max Neukirchner 84
14. Carlos Checa 80
15. Leon Haslam 63
* Possible updated results could be defined by the International Disciplinary Court which is dealing with the appeal lodged by Aprilia Racing Team and rider Sylvain Guintoli, following the decision taken by the FIM Stewards in Monza (Italian Round, last 12 May) to cancel the drop of position sanction (from third to fourth place in race 2) imposed by the Race Direction on rider Tom Sykes