Tom Sykes has clinched his first World Superbike Championship with a race to spare after finishing third in the opening race of the day at Jerez. Eugene Laverty took victory for Aprilia after a sensational last corner move on Marco Melandri but by finishing on the podium, Sykes secured enough points to carry an unassailable lead into the final race of the year.
Laverty knew that to have any chance of taking the title fight to the wire, he had to win the race but with a lap and a half to go, his hopes looked to have been dashed by a brutal move from Melandri. The Italian charged up the inside of the Aprilia and ran Eugene completely off the road in the process. Laverty wouldn’t be denied though and with Marco taking a defensive line into the last corner, Laverty braked later and swooped around the outside to take the victory, his eighth of the season.
Five seconds further back, Sykes was riding a lonely race to title glory having seen off the second factory Aprilia of Sylvain Guintoli and once the Yorkshireman crossed the line to become world champion, securing Kawasaki’s first SBK crown for 20 years, the emotion poured out of the usually laid-back Sykes.
“Words cannot describe how I feel”, Sykes explained afterwards. “I am very level headed but since Magny Cours there are moments where my mind started dreaming. When I was dreaming I had goose bumps and it was magical to even dream I could be world champion. But that was maybe 2% of what I am feeling now after winning the title.”
Toni Elias put his Jerez experience to good use and finished fifth ahead of Davide Giugliano while Leon Camier marked his return to racing with eighth place, just behind Chaz Davies on the second GoldBet BMW.