The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.
Misano, Italy, – Reigning World Superbike champion Tom Sykes pulled off his third double of 2014 with his works Kawasaki team-mate Lorenzo Baz second in both races – as he was for both Sykes’ previous double wins, at Motorland Aragon and Donington Park.
South Africans riders, however, encountered mixed fortunes at Misano, with Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) being forced out of both World Superbike races by mechanical gremlins, while David ‘McFlash’ McFadden (also on a Kawasaki) qualified seventh for the Superstock 1000 race and put in a superb ride to finish fifth, and move up a place to seventh in the championship.
Aprilia privateer Toni Elias grabbed the hole-shot but there was no denying the man who set Misano on fire with his record Superpole lap on Saturday as Sykes pushed past near the end of the opening lap.
Both factory Aprilia riders - Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli - made small mistakes, allowing Loris Baz through to give chase to his Kawasaki team-mate, before regrouping and getting down to the job at hand business, which was keeping the runaway Green Meanies honest.
As the battle at the front intensified, Elias overshot into Turn 1 at the start of lap three.
The battle for line honours was fast becoming a two-rider affair, but the fight for the final podium place now involved both Ducati riders – Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano as well as the two factory Aprilias, Elias and the Honda of Jonathan Rea.
In the final stages third Sykes was pulling away from Baz by two tenths of second a lap, leaving the Frenchman a lonely second, while the final podium spot became a last-lap showdown between Melandri and Davies, with the Aprilia in front when it counted, by little more than a second.
Davies, Guintoli and Elias completed the top six, while Kawasaki’s David Salom worked his way through the pack after being caught mid-pack in the opening sequence of corners to come out on top in the Evo battle, finishing a respectable 11th overall.
The reigning champion put in another commanding performance, walking away to win by more than three seconds, but behind him there was an intense race-long three-way fight for second with Baz eventually grabbing second from Melandri after some hard but fair passes between the pair.
Guintoli had to be content with fourth, but there was another exciting scrap for fifth between Rea, Elias, and Suzuki team-mates Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes, all of whom within 1.5 seconds, in that order.
Race 2 was over before it had begun for Giugliano, who took the lead into Turn 1 but was judged to have moved before the lights went out and was given a jump start penalty. He eventually came home ninth after a ride-through penalty.
Salom was again the top Evo finisher despite a valiant ride by BMW’s Sylvain Barrier on his return from injury.
As expected after a tight qualifying session the race was action-packed from start to finish with multiple lead changes throughout the 19 laps. Pole-sitter Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) led from the start and immediately began stretching a lead from a chasing group of riders that included Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki), Michael van der Mark (Honda), Raffaele De Rosa (Honda) and PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki).
With Cluzel almost two seconds clear, De Rosa crashed out of contention on lap four, leaving Jacobsen, Van der Mark and Sofuoglu to battle for the remaining podium places.
Championship leader Van der Mark put in a late charge to close the gap to Cluzel to less than a second, setting up another tense finale, but Cluzel held on to take the win, his second of the year, by 1.5 seconds, with Jacobsen third for his maiden world championship podium.
Former champion Sofuoglu finished fourth with Roberto Tamburini (Kawasaki) and Lorenzo Zanetti (Honda) making up the top six.
Kawasaki rider Lorenzo Savadori took his first win of 2014 after starting from pole in a race that was cut short when Federico Sandi (BMW HP4) crashed out of second on lap 11, bringing out the red flags.
That promoted championship leader Leandro Mercado (Ducati) to second with Fabio Massei (also on a Ducati) claiming back-to-back podiums in third.
Ondrej Jezek recovered fought his way back to fourth after being pushed wide early in the race by his team-mate Mercado, while ‘McFlash’ and Federico D’Annunzio (BMW HP4) rounded out the top six.