Tom Sykes strengthened his position in the lead of the Superbike World Championship by dominating both races at Misano on Sunday. The defending champion led home teammate Loris Baz on both occasions as Kawasaki enjoyed a perfect day on the Adriatic coast, David Salom also taking the two EVO class victories.
In Sykes’ hands, the ZX-10R was a class above the opposition with the Yorkshireman leading every lap of the opener, setting lap record after lap record as he eased away from teammate Baz. Marco Melandri held off a determined Chaz Davies for third with Sylvain Guintoli losing crucial ground in the championship fight by trailing home fifth.
The only time Sykes had a rider in front of him for a sustained period was early in race two but that was only because Davide Giugliano had jumped the start. Once the Italian served the inevitable ride through penalty, Sykes had a lead he wouldn’t relinquish as Baz fended off the Aprilias of Melandri and Guintoli. Loris held on despite a couple of block-pass attempts from Marco in the closing stages while Guintoli failed once again to reach the podium, falling 39 points off the pace in the process.
Sykes was optimistic about his race performance after Superpole but even he admitted he wasn’t expecting to dominate quite as he did on Sunday.
“I am very pleasantly surprised at these results but I knew that the adrenaline and the concentration would give me something extra. I honestly was not expecting to get that much extra but massive credit to all the team. It all went to plan in race one. I knew I had some limitation all weekend and I said that to my crew chief, and what the issues were. After that you need to get on and do the job. We have been working a lot all weekend and we have been fine-tuning the set-up of the Ninja ZX-10R. Finally when it came to crunch time I was able to give that final little bit myself, and I am happy about that. The lap times were quite surprising at the start and I was surprised to keep that pace in race one. The front and rear were moving a lot but the feedback from the bike was fantastic, so I have to thank Marcel and Danilo and all the mechanics who have all worked over time a long time to deal with my fussy requests! In race two it was even more difficult, the bike was moving a lot more and I was over compensating with my left arm. I had to stay focused but at the end the control of the second race was probably a bit more relaxed than in race one.”
Jonathan Rea was another rider to lose ground in the title chase with fifth in race two the best he could manage. Toni Elias followed an encouraging Sepang with a brace of sixth place finishes but the most impressive effort of the day came from Eugene Laverty, not for finishing ninth and seventh, but for riding through enormous pain as the Irishman explained.
“That was definitely not the easiest of days! In race one, a few laps in at turn five while I was pushing on the footrest I felt something snap inside my foot. There was a lot of pain and I struggled to ride for the next five laps but I didn’t want to pull in so I just adjusted my foot and for the last five or six laps I was able to ride again and start pushing. For the second race I sought medical attention which allowed me to ride in a different way – I had to keep my foot in a strange position on the footrest but at least that allowed me to fight and race, because I thought I wouldn’t be able to race again. It’s unfortunate because I thought the foot was coming ok; it’s ok to walk, but to ride the bike the break is exactly at the point I need to push on the footrest and I think I’ve done more damage now than originally. I’ll do my best to be as strong as I can be in Portimao and hope we can get the GSX-R close to the front.”