Donington double for WSBK star Sykes
Donington Park, Leicestershire - Home-track advantage came into play in a big way at Round 6 of the World Superbike series on Sunday with British riders taking the top four positions in both races.
Tom Sykes took the first 23-lapper by almost four seconds in dry but cold and overcast conditions after a race-long battle with series leader Jonathan Rea, for his first win in 17 races.
The Kawasaki Racing Team duo swopped places a number of times after getting the better of early leader Leon Haslam (Aprilia), while the final podium place went to Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies, who also passed Haslam with six laps to go.
BMW Italia star Ayrton Badovini showed incredible pace in the closing stages to snatch fifth at the flag from Alex Lowes on the works Suzuki, who faded out of contention in the closing stages.
Haslam’s team-mate Jordi Torres finished seventh in his Donington race debut, ahead of reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda), Leon Camier (MV Agusta) and David Salom’s privateer Kawasaki, who rounded out the top 10.
Honda hotshot Michael van der Mark, the 2014 World Supersport champion, continued his difficult rookie year in World Superbikes with an early crash. He got the bike back to the pits and parked it in the garage, signifying his retirement. A couple of minutes later he changed his mind and went out again - and was, inevitably, black-flagged.
Sykes made it two wins from two starts as he dominated the second outing to equal Carl Fogarty’s six race wins record in the series. The former champion, who has now won every World Superbike race at the Leicestershire circuit for the past three years, made it a clean sweep, adding the fastest lap in Race 2 to Saturday’s Superpole win
Sunday’s double was the first for Sykes for almost eleven months, the previous one being at Misano in 2014.
Rea was very lucky to save what could have been a huge crash at Coppice on lap two; he then fought back with some great overtaking moves to salvage second ahead of Davies, who finished third for the second time on the day.
Nevertheless, it was Rea’s first race day of 2015 without a win in either outing.
Factory Ducati lead rider Davide Giugliano had to settle for fifth after being mugged by local hero Haslam - riding through the pain and discomfort of cracked ribs - on the penultimate lap.
Lowes brought the leading Suzuki hone sixth after another strong showing, running as high as third in the early stages.
Haslam’s Aprilia team-mate Torres and Honda stalwart Guintoli took the next two place after a race-long battle, with Badovini and Ducati privateer Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati) completing the top 10.
Van der Mark’s woes continued as his battered Honda went sick after eight laps, forcing him back into the pits.
Turkish veteran Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) got the best of a hard-fought 20-lap Supersport encounter after starting from pole and than getting mugged by arch-rival Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta).
Sofuoglu retook the lead to win for the fourth time in 2015, extending his championship lead in the process to 45 points, with Cluzel less than a second adrift after setting a lap record in his efforts to chase down the Kawasaki.
Seventeen-year old British wildcard Kyle Ryde (Yamaha) had the crowd on its feet with his aggressive riding, battling the whole way with hard-charging Lorenzo Zanetti on the works MV Agusta, and finally taking the final podium spot (at his first appearance in a world championship race) by a nail-biting 0.156sec.
PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki) finished a lonely fifth, ahead of Triumph team-mates Luke Stapleford and Sam Hornsey, both wildcard rides at their home track. Gino Rea (Honda), Niki Tuuli (Yamaha) and Andy Reid (Honda) completed the top ten.