Unpredictable, rapidly changing weather played havoc with Round 4 of the World Superbike series at Monza; in the end only one superbike race could be run and even that had to be cut short at half-distance, so only half points were awarded.
On a day of uncertainties works Kawasaki star Tom Sykes recorded an emphatic win out of all proportion to the eight laps the race lasted before the rains came back to spoil the party yet again.
His margin of victory was 9.709 seconds, more than a second per lap faster than his main rivals in damp but drying track conditions.
Superpole winner Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) looked like he would be the man to challenge Sykes but his bike stalled on the final warm-up lap and he could not get back to the grid in time to make the start. Leon Haslam (BMW) and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) headed up a battling group of six potential podium finishers, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) fifth and Carlos Checa (Ducati) seventh.
Tom Sykes: “There's been a lot of commotion today, but to get the win is great for us. The bike was awesome in the race, there were a lot of damp patches, but I had such good feedback I was able to get my head down and go about business in a good way.
It's a shame the race couldn't go two-thirds distance but we hope to move on to a very sunny England now and have some consistent weather for a change!”
Leon Haslam: “I think we made the best of a bad day, 14th on the grid wasn't ideal. It was quite difficult to overtake coming off the dry line, but it worked out perfectly.
“Tom was too quick from the start and by the time I got second he had already gone.”
Eugene Laverty: “We've been strong all weekend here at Monza in these conditions but I think we're all just relieved to get that race over. “When I saw Leon go in front of me, I was happy to follow him and let him lead the way because there were some damp patches.”
Sykes is the fifth different race winner of the year and race victories have now been taken by Aprilia, Ducati, Honda and Kawasaki riders, after only seven individual race finishes.
RESULTS - RACE 1
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 14min08.800
2 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW S1000 RR +9.709sec
3 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +10.119
4 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +10.294
5 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory + 10.527
6 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR +10.638
7 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R +10.899
8 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R +12.195
9 Jakub Smrz (Czech Republic) Ducati 1098R +13.199
10 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +19.372
11 Horoshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda CBR1000RR +24.551
12 Chaz Davies (Britain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +24.655
13 Maxime Berger (France) Ducati 1098R +24.662
14 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +24.668
15 Leon Camier (Britain) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +24.810
16 Leandro Mercado (Argentina) Kawasaki ZX-10R +24.935
17 Nicolo Canepa (Italy) Ducati 1098R +25.278
POINTS (after four of 14 rounds)
1 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 97.5
2 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R - 95.5
3 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 91.5
4 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR - 72.5
5 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR - 70
6 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW S1000 RR - 68
7 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R - 66
8 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 64
9 Jakub Smrz (Czech Republic) Ducati 1098R - 42.5
10 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R - 41
Jules Cluzel (Honda) won what was only his fourth World Supersport race, in wet conditions at Monza. He finally held off an exciting late challenge from stable mate Sam Lowes who passed him going into the final corner, but was forced wide to allow Cluzel to duck inside and claim the prize.
Some way back, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) was a safe third, ahead of the impressive wet-weather abilities of Imre Toth (Honda) and wild card rider Stefano Cruciani (Kawasaki)
All three South Africans - Honda riders Ronan Quarmby and Mathew Scholtz, and Kawasaki rider Sheridan Morais, crashed out.
1 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR - 33min08.897
2 Sam Lowes (Britain) Honda CBR600RR +0.312sec
3 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R +17.369
4 Imre Toth (Hungary) Honda CBR600RR +21.528
5 Stefano Cruciani (Italy) Kawasaki ZX-6R +29.469
6 Alex Baldolini (Italian) Triumph Daytona 675 +32.214
7 Massimo Roccoli (Italy) Yamaha R6 +43.577
8 Andrea Antonelli (Italy) Honda CBR600RR +43.949
9 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 +47.455
10 Raffaele de Rosa (Italy) Honda CBR600RR +47.826
POINTS (after 3 of 13 rounds)
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 61
2 Sam Lowes (Britain) Honda CBR600RR - 51
3 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 49
4 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR - 48
5 Alex Baldolini (Italian) Triumph Daytona 675 - 34
6 Broc Parkes (Australia) Honda CBR600RR - 29
7 Vladimir Leonov (Russia) Yamaha R6 - 26
8 Lorenzo Lanzi (Italy) Honda CBR600RR
9 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR - 25
10 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 - 25