Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes kept his cool during a red-flagged aggregated race one at the 11th round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park yesterday to take a close second place to Troy Bayliss after leading for a large part of the race.
A dry opening race got off to an excellent start with Sykes immediately slotting into second place. In the early stages he set the pace for six laps running and snatched the lead from double World Champion Bayliss at Coppice on lap seven.
Sykes's Rizla Suzuki had awesome pace and the Huddersfield rider pulled a gap of 3.9 seconds over Bayliss before the race was red flagged due to oil on the circuit. The grid re-formed with the riders taking their place according to race positions at the point of the red flag, giving Sykes pole position.
He got away well in the restart taking the holeshot but was passed by Bayliss after a slide going into the first corner. Shortly after that, two riders crashed in front of him at the Esses slowing him further. His hard-riding kept Bayliss honest for the remainder of the race before a down-pour with two laps to go meant it was cut short gifting the win to the World Champion elect by 1.266secs.
Race two was hit by a deluge of rain while the riders were forming on the grid. Sykes's Rizla Suzuki technicians worked hard to adjust his machine to the treacherous conditions but ran out of time. Battling the conditions and the dry settings on his GSX-R1000, he had to settle for 10th place, while Ryuichi Kiyonari took the win.
"The first part of race one all went to plan and it was fantastic. I was watching the time on my board increasing with Troy behind and I felt I had good pace. The red flag was frustrating but I hid it well and composed myself. I got a clean start grabbing the hole-shot, but a slide and an incident at the Esses allowed Troy to get past me and then get away.
"Race two was a tough one but what can you do in conditions like that, I just kept it steady as I was struggling for grip. Overall it has been a good day, I've taken a podium at World level, we've gained some valuable wet settings and I'm now looking to Croft. I'd like to say a big thank you to all of the Rizla Suzuki team and the fans, this has been a brilliant experience."
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"Tom has taken his first World Superbike podium and it is all credit to him and the Rizla Suzuki team - well done. I am sure if the race had not been red flagged he would have won it - he has shown just what a good rider he is and what the Rizla Suzuki team is capable of.
"Race two was a bit of a let-down but given the weather conditions Tom did his best; we'll chalk it up to experience and move on. Everyone is on a high now following Tom's debut World Superbike podium so we can't wait to get to Croft and continue with the British Championship."
TEAM ALSTARE SUZUKI REPORT:
Team Suzuki Alstare riders Fonsi Nieto, Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner were happy to leave Donington Park after a difficult weekend, but unhappy with the results.
The heavy rain on Friday and Saturday gave way to a mostly dry track in the first race, but then came back with a vengeance in the second. Kagayama and Nieto finished 5th and 7th in race one, which was a two-parter because of a red-flag, but Neukirchner crashed out of contention when he high sided after hitting a puddle of water.
Just before the start of race two, the heavens opened, causing all riders to change from a dry set-up to rain-tyres and a wet set-up. The conditions were atrocious and there were 13 retirements including Nieto in the soggy 23-lapper...
Yukio Kagayama - Race 1: 5th, Race 2: 19th:
"This day was very difficult, just like the whole weekend! I am almost pleased with fifth position in the first race, but for me, fifth is not good enough! Because we had no dry track time, we had to guess what dry settings to use and so the bike was not as good as it could've been. So I think that to finish fifth after qualifying 24th is maybe not so bad. In race two, we changed to full wets and a wet set-up after the rain came down while we were on the grid and I always knew it would be a very long and difficult 23 laps. Just like Friday and Saturday, I could feel no grip at the rear, so I just had to ride round and try and get to the end of the race. This is not my style and so I am not happy, but when you feel the bike aquaplaning and slipping in the corners, it is hard to ride. Our engineers now have a lot of data to analyse and think about and I hope that they find solutions to our problems."
Fonsi Nieto - Race 1: 7th, Race 2: DNF:
"Like everybody else, I think, I used slicks on the front and rear in race one and although we didn't have a good dry set-up, I managed seventh, which is not too bad considering I started from 23rd on the grid. I would prefer to forget race two! All weekend we've had problems with rear grip and we never found any set-up that worked well. I really found it hard just keeping upright in race two and after 18 laps I decide to pull in because otherwise I am sure I would've crashed. For me this was a weekend to forget."
Max Neukirchner - Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 14th:
"Not all of the track was dry in the first race and I was a bit unlucky because I hit a puddle and high-sided and that was that. Our dry set-up was a gamble, because there had not been any dry track time in the past two days and we had to take a chance - like everybody else. But still, I was angry because I had crashed and could not continue. The conditions in race two were very difficult and the track was very, very slippery and I had no rear grip at all - just like yesterday and Friday! When the rain fell while we were on the grid, we had to put on wet tyres and soften the suspension, but it wasn't anyway near a good set-up and I struggled throughout the race. It has been a frustrating weekend for us all, so I hope the next round in Vallelunga will be better - and dry!
Race 1: 1 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati), 2 Tom Sykes (GB-Rizla Suzuki), 3 Biaggi (I-Ducati), 4 Lavilla (E-Honda), 5 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare), 6 Smrz (CZ-Ducati), 7 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare), 8 Haslam (GB-Honda), 9 Muggeridge (Aus-Honda), 10 Ellison (GB-Honda). Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) DNF.
Race 2: 1 Kiyonari (J-Honda), 2 Crutchlow (GB-Honda), 3 Corser (Aus-Yamaha), 4 Ellison, 5 Fabrizio (I-Ducati), 6 Biaggi, 7 Lavilla, 8 Xaus (E-Ducati), 9 Checa (E-Honda), 10 Tom Sykes (GB-Rizla Suzuki), 14 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki), 19 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare). Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) DNF.
Points: 1 Bayliss 359, 2 Corser 258, 3 Max Neukirchner 254, 4 Checa 240, 5 Haga 230, 6 Fonsi Nieto 192, 7 Biaggi 192, 8 Kiyonari 190, 9 Fabrizio 172, 10 Xaus 156, 11 Yukio Kagayama 120.
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon superbly controlled the eighth round of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup race at Donington today, running out a comfortable winner by over sixteen seconds. The young Belgian shadowed early leader Polita for the first five laps, then swept past on lap six and immediately began to pull out a gap on the Italian. Lap by lap, he increased his lead and never looked in trouble on his way to his second victory of the season. With series leader Roberts (Ducati) finishing in fourth, Xavi is now only two points behind with two rounds remaining.
Xavi Simeon - 1st:
"I had the feeling that this would be a good day for us and I am very happy about the win. After the disaster at Brands Hatch in the last round, I knew I really had to win today to keep my title hopes alive. The track was wet, but it wasn't raining and parts of it did sort of dry up towards the end of the race, but not enough to cause a dry line. I followed Polita for a few laps, to see where he went and how the track was and then made my move on lap six. After I went past, there was no response from him and I was able to increase my lead bit by bit. Towards the end, I had a big gap, so I knew that all I had to do was keep my concentration and the victory would be mine. Now I am only two points behind Roberts and I feel that I can go to Magny-Cours and go all-out for another win."
Superstock 1000 Results: 1 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki), 2 Polita (I-Ducati), 3 Giugliano (I-Suzuki), 4 Roberts (Aus-Ducati), 5 Kirkham (GB-Yamaha), 6 Berger (F-Honda)
Points: 1 Roberts 122, 2 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 120, 3 Berger 11, 4 Polita 114, 5 PIRA 83, 6 Giugliano 71.
WORLD SUPERSPORT REPORT:
RES Software Hoegee Suzuki's Barry Veneman put in a strong performance and finished fourth at Donington as team mate Didier Van Keymeulen finished eight.
Marc Hoegee - Team owner RES Software Hoegee Suzuki:
"We had a great weekend with very good results. The team worked very hard and both guys showed an excellent pace. After all the work we've done this weekend we deserved a podium but the battle was exciting and the results are good. The whole team did a good job this weekend and in Vallelunga we will fight for the podium again."
"I am satisfied with the fourth position and with the points I scored. I felt strong on the bike and I was able to follow the front guys. I also felt that I was able to ride on the podium and actually I am a little fed up that this was not the case today. I made two small mistakes and that costs me too much time. Still I showed today that I am strong on the bike and that I am able to ride with the top riders."
Didier Van Keymeulen:
Tom Sykes (GB-Rizla Suzuki), Tom Sykes (GB-Rizla Suzuki), "My start was very good and immediately I was in the front group. I was able to follow this group for a long time. After I overtook Lagrive, I stayed fifth for a long time. But then I felt I had some problems with the front and I lost time. I was not able anymore to push hard and I just had to let Kennaugh, Harms and Lascorz overtake. But I am very satisfied with the eight position and for sure I will battle for points again in Vallelunga."