Tom Sykes extended his lead in the Superbike World Championship to 22 points with victory in a twice-restarted race one at Laguna Seca. The Kawasaki rider prevailed in a frantic twelve lap dash after overhauling Chaz Davies in the closing stages while Sylvain Guintoli could only manage fifth, leaving him to curse his luck having led on both occasions when the red flags came out.
Earlier in the day, the Frenchman had pipped Sykes to his first Superpole of the season and eight laps into what was originally scheduled to be a 26 lap race, Sylvain was two seconds clear of Sykes in second place. The problem was caused by American wildcard Danny Eslick who crashed his Suzuki at turn five, deflating the air fence in the process. Given the events of the Nurburgring earlier this month, race direction wisely brought a halt to proceedings and they were forced to do so again nine laps into the restarted race, this time following accidents for Leon Haslam and Eslick’s teammate Roger Lee Hayden.
At the third attempt the race finally ran uninterrupted, this time for twelve laps, and Guintoli wouldn’t ace the start in the same way he had earlier. Second placed Sykes drew alongside the Aprilia and the two made contact as they negotiated the left-handed kink at turn one, opening the door for the GoldBet BMWs of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri to swoop past.
In such a short race, Guintoli was keen to get going but in an effort to grab second from Melandri on lap three, the Frenchman had to take evasive action at the final corner and Sykes needed no second invitation to dive through. With five laps to go, Tom succeeded where Sylvain failed by outbraking the second BMW into the last corner and three laps later, the Yorkshireman moved into a crucial lead by scything past Davies at turn ten.
Things would go from bad to worse for Guintoli as his teammate Eugene Laverty demoted him to fifth halfway around the last lap and Eugene still had time to snatch the final podium place from Melandri, capitalising on a failed attempt from Marco to take second by surging past at the Corkscrew.
Right behind the top five, Davide Giugliano took a strong sixth with Jules Cluzel riding a lonely race to seventh ahead of Toni Elias, Ayrton Badovini and Mark Aitchison.