SBK Monza: Sykes The Winner On Farcical Afternoon

Tom Sykes - Photo Credit: Kawasaki
Tom Sykes - Photo Credit: Kawasaki


The 25th anniversary weekend of the Superbike World Championship descended into a farce with only eight laps of racing possible due to rain. The opening race was cancelled after the heavens opened three laps in while race two didn't even make it to half distance when the poor weather returned.

The extent of the downpour in race one meant that any resumption would've been very difficult but with the Pirelli wet tyres not believed to have the durability to complete a race distance at such high speeds, that may not have been possible anyway.

Tom Sykes was leading the second race when the red flags came out but with less than three quarter distance having been completed, his first win of 2012 only warned him half points. Leon Haslam took second for BMW while Eugene Laverty completed the podium at the track where he claimed his first SBK win last year.

But the headlines were made by the crazy scenes which led to such limited action. In a team statement, Effenbert Liberty Ducati described it as “one of the worst” in the history of World Superbikes, accusing the organisers of showing a lack of respect for the spectators and questioned its own future in the championship.

Althea Racing's general manager Genesio Bevilacqua agreed that the situation wasn't handled well but felt the decision to end the day's action was correct on safety grounds.

“It was a really strange day, conditioned by problems and indecision on the part of the organisers. I think that everyone involved took too long in their decision making and what resulted was one shortened race which was something or nothing really. Recent accidents have perhaps made the riders more wary in these kinds of conditions and I agree with them, though of course it doesn't make for great racing for the spectators.”

Pirelli Moto's racing director Giorgio Barbier issued a statement on Sunday evening to clarify their position on the matter and felt the teams had gone against their instructions when tyres were seen falling apart in Superpole.

“The weekend at Monza was most certainly conditioned from Saturday by weather conditions which were extremely unstable, with nice weather, suddenly alternating with rain and at times even with hail. As for Superbike, first and foremost I would like to make an important note on Saturday's Superpole: Pirelli consistently recommended that the teams and riders use the intermediate tyres which were available to them. This advice, however, was completely ignored since all of the riders used rain tyres. Clearly the reason for this was the fact that the track was completely dry in places, while in others it was wet due to the trees along the track which kept the asphalt from drying. The rain tyres run well at 50°-60°, but on the two consecutive straight stretches, which were completely dry, they obviously reached temperatures well above 200°. This caused a meltdown of the compound in the centre. I would also like to reassure everyone on this point that Pirelli tyres have a particular structure with a steel belt, and therefore it is absolutely impossible for them to explode.”

“That said, on Sunday the riders in the Superstock classes raced as scheduled, in conditions which were even worse than those during the Superbike races, using the rain tyres on the front and the intermediate or race tyres on the rear. In Supersport, as further proof that the Pirelli rain tyres can most definitely sustain an entire race without any problems, the riders raced and finished on rain tyres. So it was a shame that, although the Superbike riders had two intermediate solutions available to them for the rear, they expected only to use the racing slicks. Once the race began, in any case, it was clear that even in those conditions a good race could be run.”