Tom Sykes heads into the two-month summer break with a 44 point championship lead after winning an action-packed second race at Laguna Seca. Accidents saw the race halted twice and when the race was eventually reduced to a seven lap dash, Sykes kept his head to beat Sylvain Guintoli to victory.
The first stoppage came ten laps into the scheduled 25 when Alex Lowes tagged Loris Baz during an ill-advised overtaking attempt. Although Baz fortunately kept his Kawasaki upright, Lowes wasn’t quite so lucky and tumbled through the gravel at high speed. The British Superbike champion escaped serious injury but with rider and motorcycle lying in the gravel trap at such a dangerous bend, race direction made the sensible call to stop the race.
Take two was only two laps old when the red flags were brought out again with another horrendous accident necessitating the stoppage. Exiting the final corner, Sylvain Barrier lost control of his BMW with the machine careering into the pitwall. Barrier also slid into the concrete after being dragged along the tarmac by his motorcycle and was taken to hospital where he was later confirmed to be conscious.
The race still had some more drama in store when it restarted for a third time with Marco Melandri bursting into an early lead. The Italian will have had his eyes on a second double victory of 2014 but a front-end washout at the final corner on lap two put paid to that, promoting Sykes into a lead he would maintain until the finish.
Sykes admitted the disappointment of race one acted as motivation for race two and also explained how the stoppages altered his strategy.
“An eighth win of the year and one more point ahead in the championship. I knew this circuit would be difficult for us after last year, and then again after race one this year, so if you had offered me that deal last night I would have taken it. I thought my points gap may have been reduced after this round. In race one you can talk about having a strategy but in race two, with all the red flags and a short race it was a case of go big! I was motivated after race one and the bike was working well. We made changes for the first attempt at race two and we improved it, and then for the first restart it was better again and then for the final part we made another change and it was better again. I am very happy to have extended my championship lead and a great pleasure to take the win. I can go into the summer break very relaxed and very motivated.”
Guintoli followed his title rival home to clinch of second places for the weekend with Jonathan Rea making the most of a crash for Davide Giugliano to snatch the final podium position. Giugliano’s fall completed a disastrous day for Ducati although the Italian was lucky to walk away from his tumble at the Corkscrew, as were the following riders who had to dodge his stricken Panigale.
Eugene Laverty was competitive through all three phases of the race and was rewarded with fourth with Toni Elias close behind in fifth. Loris Baz was sixth ahead of Leon Haslam while David Salom took the EVO honours in eighth overall.