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Tom Sykes extends Championship lead after Race 1 win
Laguna Seca (US), Saturday 28 September 2013 - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has won Race 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was eventually contested over 12 laps, rather than the scheduled 26 due to two red flags, caused by the crashes sustained firstly by Danny Eslick (Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki) and then by his team mate Roger Hayden.
The works Kawasaki rider took the lead on the tenth lap thanks to an outstanding overtaking manoeuvre at Turn 11, after a side-by-side downhill ride with Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet). The Championship leader then rode comfortably to win the race, while Marco Melandri lost some ground after trying to pass his team mate Davies at Turn 5 and then, on the final lap, lost third place courtesy of a superb pass by Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) at the "Corkscrew".
Tom Sykes: "It was hard having three starts but it ended up good for us with a race win. Sylvain (Guintoli) and I came together at the entry to turn one off the start and our contact pushed my brake lever down from its normal position. That was a bit awkward to deal with for a little while but I got my head around it. I was pushing to stay with the BMW guys up front for a while but in the end it was a good race for us. Another race tomorrow so that is what I am thinking about now."
Laverty's team mate Sylvain Guintoli ended up fifth, a frustrating result for the Frenchman who was comfortably in the lead in each of the two interrupted races. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) claimed sixth place, ahead of Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia), Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) and Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini Kawasaki).
Potential podium contender Niccolò Canepa (Team Ducati Alstare) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) could not line-up for the final restart of the race after crashing out in the second part. Both are thankfully uninjured as well as Eslick and Hayden, who should line up on the grid for tomorrow's second outing.
Thanks to his seventh win of the season, Sykes extends his lead to 22 points over Guintoli and 35 on Laverty, while Melandri is now 45 points short from the top rival.
Results: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 12 Laps/43.320 km in 16'55.703 average 153.541 kph; 2. Davies (BMW) 1.253; 3. Laverty (Aprilia) 2.454; 4. Melandri (BMW) 2.650; 5. Guintoli (Aprilia) 3.430; 6. Giugliano (Aprilia) 3.584; 7. Cluzel (Suzuki) 9.134; 8. Elias (Aprilia) 11.252; 9. Badovini (Ducati) 14.140; 10. Aitchison (Kawasaki) 17.830; 11. Salom (Kawasaki) 18.010; 12. Young (Suzuki) 21.767; 13. Fabrizio (Honda) 22.087; 14. Sandi (Kawasaki) 32.837; 15. Iannuzzo (BMW) 34.267; 16. Allerton (BMW) 50.167.
Difficult first race at Laguna Seca
The first race of the 12th round World Superbike championship event at Laguna Seca in the USA today proved to be a difficult one for the riders in general with two red flags leading to a final 12-lap sprint.
The race was won by series leader Tom Sykes with Pata Honda rider Michel Fabrizio unable to finish higher than 13th. The Italian rider cited front grip problems on his CBR machine and hopes for improvement in tomorrow's (Sunday) second outing.
His team-mate Leon Haslam had an even more frustrating day after an improvement in his set-up allowed him to set his fastest lap of the weekend in Superpole 1 this morning. However, technical issues prevented the 30-year-old from completing a lap in Superpole 2 and he was forced to start from 12th place on the grid.
Further sensor issues manifested themselves in the first part of the race but, with a new front tyre for the second part, Haslam, too suffered from front grip problems and crashed out on lap six. He injured the left leg that he broke at Assen in the Netherlands earlier this season but expects to be able to take part in race two tomorrow.
Michel Fabrizio - 13th
It's been a very strange day because this morning in free practice and in Superpole I was happy and I had a good feeling with the bike. My starting position was not good but I was looking forward to the race. I don't know what happened because we didn't change anything for the race. The track temperature was maybe a little higher but I had very big problems with grip at the front. We are looking through the data now to see if we can find the problem, but I hope it will be better tomorrow.
Leon Haslam - DNF
I think my time in Superpole 1, on a race tyre, would've set me the fastest lap of the race, and a 20-lap run in free practice was good, too. So we've made some good progress to achieve pace but the race was a disaster again. We had a traction control problem in the first part, which was a bit strange, but in part two I had zero grip from the front from lap one. I was losing the front three or four times a lap and eventually it put me down. Roger Lee Hayden went down straight after me and thought there was oil on the track but I had an issue in that area anyway. Again, it's one of those things: no issue with the front all weekend and then a massive issue in the race. The leg is a little sore with ligament and muscle pain but I'll ice it up tonight and we'll be all right tomorrow.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
It was quite a hectic day and we had two red flags in the first race of the weekend. Leon had a technical issue in Superpole and we are really sorry that he was not able to improve his position. We had some other small issues in the race but the red flag allowed us to solve them. He then crashed because of a lack of front grip which was really strange and we're looking at settings and tyres now just to see what happened. Michel also had a difficult day and after the first red flag we opted for a different front tyre to look for more grip but in the second half it dropped really fast and left him with no grip and a bike that was difficult to turn. We'll have to see if we can come up with a better setting for tomorrow and try again.
EUGENE LAVERTY IS ON THE PODIUM IN RACE 1 AND LAGUNA SECA WITH A SPECTACULAR PASS ON THE "CORKSCREW".
THE THREE STARTS DUE TO RED FLAGS PUT A DAMPER ON SYLVAIN GUINTOLI'S PLANS, DOMINATOR IN THE FIRST TWO STARTS.
Laguna Seca, 28 September 2013 - The "unusual" Saturday at Laguna Seca, with Superpole and Race 1 on the same day, came to a decidedly exciting finish. In Superpole Sylvain Guintoli finished ahead of the rest for the first time this year, followed in third place by team mate Eugene Laverty who suffered a harmless crash. Considering the pace the two Aprilia riders had demonstrated, all the signs leading up to Race 1 were encouraging.
At the start Sylvain took control immediately, creating a gap in front of his nearest rivals within a few laps, while in the pursuing pack it seemed like Eugene would be able to make up ground and fight for the podium.
However, the red flag came out in the seventh lap because of a deflated air fence which had been damaged by a crash. So there was a restart with the race reduced to 20 laps and everyone seemed to be following the same script: Sylvain in front of the rest, fast and focused, with Eugene riding for a podium finish. But hard luck nipped any chance at running away in the bud when the second red flag of the day came out for the same reason.
When the red lights went off for the third time, with the race shortened even further, Sylvain Guintoli got tangled up in the bottleneck on the first turn, losing positions and having to fight his way back. On a narrow and technical track like Laguna Seca overtaking is quite demanding and the reduced race length (12 laps) wiped out all the work that had been done during the test sessions on tyre wear and pace. This gave the less prepared riders from this point of view an advantage.
In the exciting final laps Sylvain had to give up a few positions and settle for a fifth place finish, a result that definitely betrays the potential of his RSV4 on the Californian track. Eugene Laverty rode an excellent race, grabbing the third step of the podium away from his rivals with a spectacular pass on the "corkscrew" in the last lap.
This places Guintoli in second place in the rider standings at 22 points from the leader, followed by Laverty at 35 points from the top. Aprilia continues to dominate in the Manufacturer standings lead, where they have been since the first round at Phillip Island, with a 33 point advantage in front of Kawasaki, 61 ahead of BMW, 216 in front of Honda, 233 above Suzuki and 284 over Ducati.
Eugene Laverty: "This was one of the most difficult races of my career. During the practice sessions we worked well, but the track conditions during the last of the three race starts were quite different than they were yesterday. I struggled to stay in the lead pack. Toward the end I gained a bit confidence and was able to get onto the podium with two passes... with my eyes closed! I want to thank my team because after the crash in Superpole they really worked hard to get my RSV4 up and running. Now I'm focused on tomorrow's race which looks like it will be just as heated as today's."
Sylvain Guintoli: "I'm definitely disappointed. We went from dominating Superpole and the first two starts to struggling to finish in fifth place. The end result doesn't do us justice. I had the right pace and serenity to win this race. Unfortunately being in the pack is not like riding out front - everything becomes more difficult. You can't follow your own lines and that takes away from your pace. In fact, I wasn't able to make the same times as before. It's a shame because this was a weekend where we could have taken home some important points, but we'll be sure to make up for it tomorrow!"
The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team finished a long and turbulent Saturday at Laguna Seca (USA) on the podium. Factory rider Chaz Davies (GBR) claimed second in today's first race of the US round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship. His team-mate Marco Melandri (ITA) missed the podium narrowly, finishing fourth with his BMW S 1000 RR. The race had to be red-flagged twice as air-fences had been damaged by crashed motorcycles. When the race was finally underway, both BMW riders were fighting for the victory. A different schedule for Laguna Seca saw the first race contested on Saturday, race two will take place tomorrow on Sunday.
Saturday started with a free practice and the Superpole qualifying in the late morning. Chaz and Marco qualified fifth and seventh on the grid respectively. At the start of the race, both of them gained positions, with Marco improving to third and Chaz to fourth. On lap two, the Welshman overtook his team-mate and on the following lap he set a new lap record. But on lap eight, the race was red-flagged for the first time. For the re-start, the grid was formed by the results of the last contested lap, meaning that Chaz started from third and Marco from fifth. This time, Marco improved to third, while Chaz slipped back to fifth when the lights went out. But the Welshman fought his way back and was third again directly in front of Marco after seven laps. On lap nine, the red-flag was waved again. After another break, the riders went out on the grid for the third attempt to complete the race which was shortened to 12 laps.
Chaz was third on the grid again, Marco now started from fourth. The BMW duo initially stormed to the front, with Chaz taking the lead and Marco improving to second. After six laps, the two RRs were still in first and second positions, but Tom Sykes (GBR) was pushing from behind. He overtook Marco on lap seven to take second. Chaz defended his lead until the tenth lap when he lost out to Sykes. But this did not mean the excitement was over. In the final stages of the race, both Chaz and Marco chased Sykes, fighting for the win. Chaz saw the chequered flag in second. Marco also was on course to the podium, entering the final lap in third position but the Italian then dropped back to fourth when he was passed by Eugene Laverty (IRL) in the "Corkscrew". In the Riders' classification, Marco is currently fourth with 303 points, followed by Chaz who is fifth with 259 points. In the Manufacturers' ranking, BMW lies in third with 374 points. The second race of the US round will start tomorrow at 14:00 local time.
Fastest lap FP: 1:23.790 min (P3) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:23.040 min (P5)
Result Race 1: 2nd / Gap to 1st: 0:01.253 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:23.852 min (lap 2)
"Second place is a good result; I am pretty happy. To be on the podium at Laguna is always great. At the second re-start, I made a great start to take the lead. For the rest of the race I was just trying to keep my head down and did whatever I could to stay in front. But it was difficult, from mid-race on I was struggling with the front and it was pretty slippery. I did not feel that I had the bike that I had in the cooler conditions this morning. There I was really happy with the bike; it was working great. I was able to do 1:23 laps on a really used tyre but in the race, the bike was a bit more nervous and harder to ride. We will address that tonight and try to improve it for tomorrow. For the second race I hope to have another great start and then we will see what is possible then."
Fastest lap FP: 1:24.167 min (P5) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:23.363 min (P7)
Result Race 1: 4th / Gap to 1st: 0:02.650 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:23.819 min (lap 2)
"Today's race was closely fought, unfortunately with a negative outcome for me. The two red-flags in some ways helped me because in the first two parts of the race I could not go as fast as I wanted. Then, before the third start, we made some changes and finally I had a good speed. I started quite well; I had a good race pace and I wanted to be in front. Unfortunately on this track it is very difficult to overtake. I tried it in every way but I did not succeed. With this result we have lost important points and I am sorry for that. Tomorrow we will see what will happen in race two."
Serafino Foti (Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
"Today's race was influenced by the two red-flags and in a way we benefitted from these interruptions. In the break after the second red-flag we were able to make changes that allowed Marco to be fast and to have a good rhythm. Unluckily Marco was passed during the last lap so we lost some important points for the championship. It was a manoeuvre which we felt was a bit close to the limit. Chaz did a very good race. He started very well, was fast and achieved a very good second place on the podium. Mathematically, everything is possible in the championship, even if it will be quite difficult. But we will see what will happen in tomorrow's second race."
Andrea Dosoli (Technical Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
"We are pleased with the work done by both crews and both riders. We have further improved the performance of our machine on this track. As a result, both riders were able to fight for the win today. Chaz did a good job achieving another podium. Marco was not lucky during the final lap but he will have the next chance in the second race tomorrow. From the technical aspect we have suffered a bit with the hotter conditions in the race, when the track temperature went over 40 degrees Celsius and this is the point where we want to improve for tomorrow. We will analyse the data and try to understand if the track conditions will be the same. We will do the necessary adjustments to the bikes to be best prepared for race two."