Tom Sykes closed to within a point of Sylvain Guintoli at the top of the Superbike World Championship standings with victory in race one at the Nurburgring but his success was overshadowed by a terrible crash involving Jonathan Rea and Leon Camier. The British pair hit oil dropped by Federico Sandi’s Pedercini Kawasaki with the red flags being brought out as a result, stopping the race three laps early and handing Sykes the win.
A leading quartet of Sykes, Marco Melandri, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea were away at the front of the race and the battle was nearing his conclusion when the trouble started. Sandi’s Kawasaki blew up in spectacular fashion as oil poured from the bottom of the ZX-10R to such an extent that it doused the front tyre and sent Sandi to the floor.
Sandi’s retirement came on lap fifteen but with the motorcycle and rider cleared away, the circuit returned to green flag racing despite oil having being spilled at the Michael-Schumacher-S. With the leaders totally unaware as they approached the corner moments later, an accident was unfortunately inevitable and although the front three stayed upright, fourth placed Rea wasn’t so lucky. The front end of the Honda folded up completely on the low-grip surface and ploughed into the barriers, followed by the helpless Ulsterman.
Further back, Leon Camier also lost control on the oil and his bike cartwheeled through the gravel, thankfully missing the stricken Rea as well as marshals who were on the scene, before vaulting over the wall. The FIX Crescent Suzuki rider was ruled out of race two with a neck injury, not thought to be serious, but Rea was diagnosed with a broken left femur, ending his day and in all probability, his season. Speaking after a trip to hospital, Rea was particularly critical of the marshalling around the point of the incident and frustrated at seeing a possible podium finish slip away.
“It’s unbelievable what was happening with the flags in the race because I saw an oil flag at turn six but then nothing at turn seven or after that”, he explained. “I went down at the fast left at turn eight and, unfortunately, I stayed conscious throughout so I can remember everything. I was feeling pretty good before then and, although I didn’t have the pace to pass the guys in front, it was clear I had the best package and, although it was late in the race, I still had good grip levels, until I hit the oil.”
Sykes was therefore declared the winner ahead of the two BMWs of Melandri and Davies, each no doubt frustrated having being denied the opportunity to challenge the Yorkshireman. Kawasaki’s morale had been given a welcome boost though after seeing their other rider, Loris Baz, injure himself in the warm-up.
Sylvain Guintoli banked another thirteen points in fourth ahead of Davide Giugliano and Michel Fabrizio while Leon Haslam was the sole Honda classified in seventh. Jules Cluzel was eighth in the only Suzuki to remain upright with polesitter Ayrton Badovini slipping to ninth, just in front of teammate Carlos Checa.