Donington Park, England – Kawasaki’s reigning World Superbike champion took his second double of 2014 in front of his home fans at the weekend in Round Five of the 2014 series, stretching his championship lead to 26 points over Honda star Jonathan Rea, while South African rider Sheridan Morais finished out of the points in both races after running as high as 13th in Race 1.
Sykes won the opening race after a titanic battle with his works Kawasaki team-mate Loris Baz. Fighting back from a disastrous start he gradually clawed back the deficit to claim his 17th career victory, the third so far of 2014, ahead of the young Frenchman, with fellow Brit Alex Lowes (Suzuki) taking a well deserved third.
Ducati Team rider Davide Giugliano crashed out of the leading group on lap 16, leaving the two Kawasakis to fight it out, much to the delight of the crowd.
Aprilia star Marco Melandri finished a lonely fourth, of Giugliano’s team mate Chaz Davies and Rea.
David Salom (Kawasaki) was classified as the first of the Evo riders, finishing in 10th overall.
South African star Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) ran as high as 17th on the Iron Brain ZX-10R Evo before running into problems and pulling out on the second-last lap; he was classified 19th and last, two laps down on the leaders.
The second outing was once again a close encounter with the leading bunch of riders locked together until a clash between Lowes and Melandri at the Melbourne Hairpin split the group.
The 23-lap race then came down to a three-way fight between Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) and Kawasaki team mates Baz and Sykes with Sykes eventually edging the victory and taking with it the championship lead.
As in race one, Baz came home second, with Guintoli taking the final podium place after a much stronger performance than in Race 1, when he finished seventh.
Giugliano recovered from his crash earlier to claim fourth, with team-mate Chaz Davies a lonely fifth ahead of Rea.
David Salom added to the celebrations for Kawasaki in the Evo category, by once again being the best classified rider, finishing a credible 10th overall.
Morais put in a solid ride to finish 16thoverall, and fifth in the Evo class.
A thrilling 20-lapper ended with Michael van der Mark (Honda) taking his second win of the season after a tense final three corners saw him fend off a last-lap challenge from Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta).
Kev Coghlan (Yamaha) was back on the podium, taking the final place on the rostrum after being in the fight for the lead until the closing stages.
Former World champion Kenan Sofuoglu suffered another technical problem while leading but - unlike in recent races - was able to bring his Kawasaki machine home fourth, unlike Van der Mark’s team mate Lorenzo Zanetti, who retired when his engine let go at Coppice Corner while he was fighting for the lead.
Florian Marino (Kawasaki) was classified fifth - just ahead of team-mate PJ Jacobsen - after working his way up through the field from a lowly grid position.