Locals impress, but Sykes does superbike Donnington double
Sykes and the Ninja ZX-10 Kawasaki were an unstoppable combination in front of the large sunbaked crowd at the East Midlands track. The Yorkshire rider led both races from start to finish, beating BMW’s Marco Melandri and Aprilia’s championship leader Sylvain Guintoli.
Local rider Jonathan Rea was on the pace early on in race one and set the fastest lap of the race before machine problems meant he had to drop back to finish fourth.
In race two, Sykes led the Aprilia pairing of Guintoli and Ulster rider Eugene Laverty home to claim his historic double.
Rea who’s fourth place in the first of Sunday’s races was all his Pata Honda team had to celebrate over the weekend. Team mate Leon Haslam was withdrawn from the races after consultation with the team’s management and medical staff. Haslam broke his leg badly in a practice crash at Assen in The Netherlands four weeks ago.
“I have been in World Superbike for a few years now and to get my first double win on home soil is a fairy tale,” said Sykes.
“One click on the front suspension between races made the difference and we could see that in the second race time, which was better than the first one,” he added.
“The Ninja ZX-10R is working well and it has been all weekend, so I feel very motivated,” said the delighted double winner.
Rea had shown potential during practice, qualifying in fourth place on the grid, which is where he finished race one. However, an electronics sensor failure just before race two restricted him to 11th place at the flag after 23 difficult laps of the 4.023km Donington circuit.
“I was pretty happy with my pace at the start of race one but, as soon as my tyre started to go off the electronics were cutting too severely and I lost a lot of pace. I even struggled to compete with Laverty and Guintoli as they came past.
“Race two was a complete disaster. Already, on the sighting lap, I told the guys that we had a sensor problem on the traction control. They said there wasn’t enough time to fix it so I went out on a bike that I was really unsure of. In reality it was cutting way, way too much power and I even tried to turn the traction control off, but it wouldn’t turn completely off. It was the worst 23 laps I’ve ever ridden.
“I’m really frustrated after all the work we’ve done. We struggled for dry time at the start of the weekend, but made some inroads during warm-up this morning and I felt good in race one. I feel like we should have been on the podium twice today,” Jonathan reflected.
Race one for Eugene Laverty was one to forget as the likable local rider could only manage seventh after a race which saw the Aprilia man go straight through the Foggys Esses at one point. In race two, however, he got it all together and followed his team mate Guintoli and winner Sykes home to claim the final podium place and secure third spot in the championship standings.
“At the end of race one I was disappointed,” said Laverty.
“I have always had trouble on this track, but I could have done better than seventh place. On the other hand, race two got off to a better start straight away. A few changes we made to my RSV4 between the two races immediately increased my feeling with it. In fact, I was able to defend third place against Melandri’s attacks, and as I said at Monza, it’s always nice to end the weekend with a podium.
“The performance in race two is encouraging for the rest of the championship. It shows that even on shorter, more winding tracks, we can keep up with the top riders. I like Portimao, I was strong there last year, so I’m looking forward to the next round,” he added.
There were more British celebrations in the supersport class when Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha rider Sam Lowes blitzed the opposition to win with over 11 seconds to spare over second place Kenan Sofuoglu, with MVAgusta’s Roberto Rolfo completing the rostrum. Lowes now leads the series by 30 points.
Jack Kennedy, who races for the Rivamoto Honda team, managed by Glengormley’s Jeremy McWilliams, finished in a fighting sixth place after a great scrap with Luca Scassa in the closing laps.
“I was happy with the result. To hang in with the group was good, considering all the crashing that was going on. I suffered from some arm pump in the closing stages, which prevented me from having a go on the last lap, but I’m happy,” said Jack.