Tom Sykes took his maiden World Superbike win, and the first for Kawasaki in five years, at a sodden Nurburgring.
World Superbikes championship leader Carlos Checa (Ducati) demonstrated exactly why he’s at the top of the points standings with only three rounds left. He took an assured win in Race 1 at the Nurburgring and a put in steel-nerved ride in atrociously wet conditions in Race 2 to score points for eighth – on a day when his main championship rival was ruled out.
A new rider also took his place among the elite of World Superbike race winners, when Tom Sykes scored on the Kawasaki ZX-10R in a race in which only 13 riders finished in treacherous track conditions. Sykes became the sixth individual race winner of the 2011 season so far, with three rounds and six races left to run.
Aprilia’s defending champion Max Biaggi missed out on race day altogether after an injury to his left foot from a crash on Friday ruled him out, but Yamaha’s Marco Melandri showed real fighting qualities in dry and wet conditions, scoring second in Race 1 and splashing his way to sixth in the rain-shortened second race.
A great start to the day for Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) saw him third ahead of the factory Yamaha of Eugene Laverty in Race 1, but he crashed out of the lead in Race 2 in blinding rain.
Checa posted a superb opening win, holding off early aggression from eventual third-place finisher Haga before moving away from the field in clinical style. Second was Melandri, Haga was third and then – in an eventually lonely fourth – Melandri’s team mate Laverty.
BMW’s Leon Haslam was fifth early on, then ran off the circuit, but recovered from 14th to re-take fifth. Guintoli was a confident top-six finisher, seven seconds ahead of top Kawasaki man Joan Lascorz, who recovered from a bad start to blitz Leon Camier (Aprilia) right on the line.
Carlos Checa: “It was a special race for many reasons, and I’d like to dedicate the win to Claudio Castiglioni because it’s thanks to him we are racing with these bikes here.
“I knew that I had to make a gap in the early laps, because I was suffering a little on the straight. At the end I was struggling a little with the tyres but the difference was enough to give me the win.”
Marco Melandri: “It was a difficult race for me. I had a good start but for the first few laps I wasn’t very fast against Nori and Carlos. I made a small mistake and lost the front under braking, going off the track and coming back fourth. I fought with Eugene, tried to catch Nori, but am very happy to be second today.”
Noriyuki Haga: “I really like this track. I was hoping to go for the win but Carlos was very fast at the beginning of Race 1. I know how the Ducati works here and I tried to catch up with him. In the race I was at 120 percent but couldn’t catch him – I was happy with third in the end.”
Sykes took Kawasaki’s first win since 2006, and his own maiden World Superbike race victory, when he led home a shortened 13-lap second race.
Haga had led for virtually the whole race, which was held in atrocious conditions that ranged from merely wet to completely soaking.
When Haga crashed out Sykes took the lead; then the rain came down even harder and the race director called it a day with Sykes ahead of Guintoli and Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz. Fourth was Rea, who remounted after a high-speed crash to score valuable points ahead of fifth-placed Laverty and his team mate Melandri.
Tom Sykes: “The first win feels absolutely fantastic, the conditions today were unbelievable! It was good to see the red flag and even better to see it in the lead. It’s great to be back – especially after the biggest crash of my career at Silverstone only a month ago!”
Sylvain Guintoli: “It was definitely good fun, very dangerous though with a lot of water towards the end. I struggled to stay with Tom, I had to push hard and nearly crashed about 20 times! In the end the rain came down very hard, but the pace was great and I had good fun.”
Jakub Smrz: “I think everyone is happy because this was a difficult race, very hectic on the grid because we couldn’t change anything for the wet and I was struggling a lot in the first part of the track. I was lucky, stayed on the bike, made average lap times and in the end I got a podium.”
RESULTS – RACE 1
1 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha +1.855sec
3 Noriyuki Haga (Japan) Aprilia +2.322
4 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Yamaha +7.789
5 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW +8.727
6 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati +10.113
7 Joan Lascorz (Spain) Kawasaki +17.228
8 Leon Camier (Britain) Aprilia +17.228
9 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW +18.166
10 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda +19.457
11 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki +22.136
12 Mark Aitcheson (Australia) Kawasaki +25.346
13 James Toseland (Britain) BMW +31.617
14 Roberto Rolfo (Italy) Kawasaki +31.796
15 Troy Corser (Australia) BMW +33.320
16 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Suzuki +38.149
17 Makoto Tamada (Japan) Honda +1min16.143
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki – 29min49.337
2 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati +4.063sec
3 Jakub Smrz (Czech Republic) Ducati +22.759
4 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda +28.497
5 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Yamaha +38.374
6 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha +45.326
7 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW +47.030
8 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati +50.032
9 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW +53.586
10 Maxim Berger (France) Ducati +55.261
11 Joan Lascorz (Spain) Kawasaki +1min12.805
12 Troy Corser (Australia) BMW +1min18.468
13 Roberto Rolfo (Italy) Kawasaki +1min40.323
POINTS AFTER 10 ROUNDS
1 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati – 368
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha – 292
3 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia – 281
4 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) – 221
5 Leon Haslam (Britain) – 169
6 Leon Camier (Britain) Aprilia – 154
7 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Suzuki – 141
8 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW – 125
9 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati – 119
10 Noriyuki Haga (Japan) Aprilia – 115