Tom Sykes gave the works Kawasaki team its third World Superbike double of 2013 in the penultimate round of the series at Magny-Cours in France on 6 October in a dramatic day’s racing that saw every race in the World Superbike, World Supersport and Superstock 1000 categories red-flagged due to crashes.
His maximum points haul put Sykes 37 ahead of Eugene Laverty and 38 ahead of Laverty’s Aprilia Factory team mate Sylvain Guintoli, the only riders still with even a mathematical chance of denying Sykes the title.
The South African contingent had no less an incident-filled day at the office, with Sheridan Morais pulling off a superb sixth in the Supersport race in his first outing on the Go Eleven Kwasaki ZX-6R, while Ronan Quarmby finished a hard-ridden 16th in the same race and Mathew Scholtz crashed out on lap three.
Greg Gildenhuys, sadly, crashed out just five turns into the Superstock race.
Sykes led the first World Superbike race of the day from lights to the red flags that came out on lap 19 after a huge tumble left Kawasaki privateer Mark Aitchison lying on the circuit.
Sykes and title rival Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia), each lapping consistently in the low 1:38’s, pulled away from the pack in the early stages of the race, but even Guintoli was unable to stay with the championship leader as laps counted down and Sykes finished the course with a comfortable two-second cushion against any late charge by the Aprilia rider.
Guintoli’s works team mate Eugene Laverty ca (Aprilia Racing Team) came home a lonely third, five seconds ahead of Aprilia privateer Davide Giugliano, who stayed with the leading pair for the first few laps before losing ground, works BMW lead rider Marco Melandri and Michele Pirro, who put in an incredible maiden World Superbike race to finish sixth.
Pirro was involved in a spectacular five-way dice during the first half of the race with Pata Honda team mates Michel Fabrizio and Leon Haslam, former MotoGP Toni Elias (Aprilia) and rookie Vincent Philippe (Suzuki), until Elias, who made his World Superbike debut last month in Turkey, crashed out at Turn 13 during the sixteenth lap, taking out Philippe in the process - which really put the cherry on top of a disastrous morning for Crescent Suzuki after its star rider, local hero Jules Cluzel, crashed out on lap three.
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 29min38.830
2 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +2.146sec
3 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +10.643
4 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +15.687
5 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +23.573
6 Michele Pirro (Italy) Ducati Panigale 1199R +33.848
7 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Honda CBR1000RR +37.599
8 Leon Haslam (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR +37.903
9 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) Ducati Panigale 1199R +38.181
10 Lorenzo Lanzi (Italy) Ducati 1098R +51.604
11 David Salom (Spain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +54.742
12 Federico Sandi (Italy) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min03.442
13 Vincent Philippe (France) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +1min07.176
14 Fabrizio Lai (Ducati) Ducati Panigale 1199R +1min24.850
15 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +2 laps
The championship leader got a perfect start from pole position steadily pulled away to put a considerable gap between himself and battling Aprilia riders Laverty and Guintoli.
With only a couple of laps to go, however, it began to drizzle; moments later both Aprilia riders went down in Turn 5 and the red flags came out. The results were taken as at the end of lap 21, however, giving Laverty and Guintoli second and third respectively.
Giugliano ended up fourth ahead of Davies, Philippe and Melandri while Philippe’s Crescent Suzuki team leader salvaged some pride (and two points!) by jumping back on his GSX-R1000 after crashing out of eighth on lap 12 and finishing 14th.
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R – 34min36.149
2 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +11.091sec
3 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +1l.337
4 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +23.008
5 Chaz Davies (Britain) BMW S1000 RR +25.724
6 Vincent Philippe (France) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +34.762
7 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +36.219
8 Toni Elias (Spain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +40.957
9 Lorenzo Lanzi (Italy) Ducati 1098R +43.713
10 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) Ducati Panigale 1199R +53.188
11 David Salom (Spain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +56.251
12 Mark Aitcheson (Australia) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min04.048
13 Federico Sandi (Italy) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min04.243
14 Jules Cluzel (France) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +1min10.346
15 Fabrizio Lai (Ducati) Ducati Panigale 1199R +1min29.441
POINTS (after 14 of 15 rounds)
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R – 411
2 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory – 374
3 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Aprilia RSV4 Factory – 373
4 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR – 339
5 Chaz Davies (Britain) BMW S1000 RR – 270
6 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory – 195
7 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory – 186
8 Loris Baz (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R – 180
9 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR – 176
10 Jules Cluzel (France) Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 162
Yamaha rider Sam clinched his first World title with a second-place finish, just 0.299sec behind Kawasaki star Kenan Sofuoglu. All the hard-riding 23-year-old from Lincoln in central England needed to nail the title was a points finish, but he threw tactics to the winds and went all out for the win.
The race was red-flagged on the final lap after Chris Iddon (MV Agusta) high-sided out of third - but Iddon made it back to the pits in time to claim his first podium spot in the series, as the result was based on the previous lap.
Lowes, Sofuoglu and Iddon put up an incredible dice for the lead, while Sofuoglu’s veteran team mate Fabien Foret got the best of a five-way dice for fourth with South African Sheridan Morais (in his first outing on the Team Go Eleven Kawasaki), Honda team mates Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti, and Honda privateer Roberto Tamburini.
Zanetti went down in a three-bike tumble with Matthieu Lagrive (Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston (Honda) on what would have been the penultimate lap but managed to remount and was running seventh when the red flags.
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R – 34min07.601
2 Sam Lowes (Britain) Yamaha R6 +0.299sec
3 Christian Iddon (Britain) MV Agusta F3 675 +0.622
4 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R +13.168
5 Sheridan Morais (South Africa) Kawasaki ZX-6R +13.483
6 Michael van der Mark (Netherlands) Honda CBR600RR +13.900
7 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Honda CBR600RR +14.363
8 Roberto Tamburini (Italy) Honda CBR600RR +14.748
9 Vladimir Leonov (Russia) Yamaha R6 +24.989
10 Ayrton Baldolini (Italy) Suzuki GSX-R600 +27.754
16 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR +33.526
Mathew Scholtz (South Africa) Suzuki GSX-R600 - DNF
Local hero Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) led the whole way for a repeat of his 2012 maiden victory in the series, followed by Niccolò Canepa (Ducati) and Lorenzo Savadori (Kawasaki). The race was cut short, however, by a horrific crash on lap 10 involving Kawasaki rider Christoffer Bergman and Sebastien Suchet's Honda.
The Honda, in particular, dropped a lot of oil on the circuit, so it was decided not to re-start the race after the unconscious Bergman had been taken to hospital; a result was declared as at the end of lap nine, which re-instated Bergman and Suchet in the results and clinched a second consecutive World Superstock title for works BMW rider Sylvain Barrier, who’d been holding a tactical, no-risks fourth when everything went pear-shaped, but didn’t do anything for his South African team mate Greg Gildenhuys, who crashed out five turns into the first lap.
The multiple SA Superbike champion re-mounted, but his HP4 was too damaged to continue and he retired at the end of the second lap.
Guarnoni’s victory podium was made all the more celebratory by the news that Bergman was awake and had full body movement, although he would be kept in hospital overnight for a CAT scan.
1 Jeremy Guarnoni (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R – 15min13.472
2 Niccolo Canepa (Italy) Ducati 1199 Panigale R +2.415sec
3 Lorenzo Savadori (Italy) Kawasaki ZX-10R +5.756
4 Sylvain Barrier (France) BMW S1000RR HP4 +8.68
5 Leandro Mercado (Argentina) Kawasaki ZX-10R +8.973
6 Ondrej Jezek (Czech Republic) Ducati 1199 Panigale R +10.647
7 Romain Lanusse (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +12.749
8 Matthieu Lussiana (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +14.691
9 Fabio Massei (Italy) Honda CBR1000RR +17.158
10 Stéphane Egea (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +21.328
Greg Gildenhuys (South Africa) BMW S1000RR HP4 - DNF