Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes took his third win in a row at the eighth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Knockhill in Scotland yesterday - and then backed it up in a damp crash-littered shortened second race with a competitive fourth place.
After a good start in race one, Sykes battled with Ducati's Michael Rutter on the damp but fast-drying track, passing him on lap nine and never looking back. After winning the last two races at Oulton Park it marked a unique hat-trick of victories for the Huddersfield ace.
Rizla Suzuki's Atsushi Watanabe started from 16th on the grid and was fighting for a season's best top-10 result when he was hit by another rider and crashed out unhurt.
Race two started immediately after a rain-storm and on full wet tyres. Sykes moved from seventh on the grid to fifth on lap eight when the race was red-flagged due to a crash. The grid reformed shortly after and now on slicks to suit the drying 1.27-mile track, Sykes was in contention for a podium finish with six laps to go when the red flag brought the race to halt and the result declared after leader Shane Byrne crashed on his Ducati.
Starting from the rear of the grid, Watanabe managed to score a point in the difficult conditions as Honda's Leon Haslam won the race.
Rizla Suzuki is back in action for the ninth round of the British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park on Bank Holiday Monday, August 25th.
"Race one was fantastic: My Rizla Suzuki was doing just what I wanted it to and once I passed Michael Rutter for the lead I controlled the gap until the end. A couple of the back-markers upset my rhythm a little but I kept going and to score my third Superbike win is brilliant.
"Race two was more difficult with a wet first part and then damp but drying second. Fourth is OK and I'll take the points but if it had been another couple of laps long I would have been able to take the two riders in front of me and a second was on the cards, if not another win. I am frustrated a little at the result but overall it's been a good weekend. Thank you to my Rizla Suzuki team for all the effort and support."
"Race one was maybe OK result until I was hit by another rider and into the gravel. There was nothing I could do; this is disappointing as a top-10 was possible. I was winded and sore but no problem.
"The wet second race was difficult but I think I improved the rain-setting on my Rizla Suzuki. I started from back of grid after making some last-minute bike change. On the second part of the restart the weather conditions were tough but 15th place is at least one point."
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"It has been a difficult race day with the weather changing by the minute. Tom did brilliant in race one and is riding very well indeed; he deserved the victory. If the second race had gone full distance then I think he may have been second or better but fourth is no disgrace. He is hungry for more wins and they will come that's for sure.
"Atsu was unlucky in race one and then had to contend with the changing weather in race two, whilst starting from the back of the grid. He did well against that backdrop and will take heart from his first race performance and go to the next round in good spirits."It's been another positive weekend for Rizla Suzuki and we are now much closer to second in the Championship with Tom than when we started - that is now our clear target for the season.
"Also, on behalf of Rizla Suzuki, I would like to dedicate the first race win to Craig Jones, a friend to many of the team and a great talent lost to British racing."
Race one result:
1: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) 25:09.2962: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +3.0933: James Ellison (Honda) +3.4794: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +5.7525: Leon Camier (Ducati) +9.3456: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) +9.4617: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +19.0518: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +36.0559: Tristan Palmer (Honda) +39.09710: Gary Mason (Honda) +40.021DNF: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) 11 laps
Race two result:
1: Leon Haslam (Honda) 11:58.3002: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +3.2143: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +3.5414: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) +3.6805: James Ellison (Honda) +6.5916: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +15.8767: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +16.5398: Leon Camier (Ducati) +18.6089: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +23.42810: Chris Burns (MV Agusta) +26.43915: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) +1 lap
Championship positions (after eight of 12 rounds):
1: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 3322: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 2223: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) 2144: Leon Haslam (Honda) 1995: Leon Camier (Ducati) 1796: James Ellison (Honda) 1777: Michael Rutter (Ducati) 1748: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) 1109: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) 10810: Tristan Palmer (Honda) 7515: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) 34