After this morning’s washout practice, the weather at Donington Park for this afternoon’s first qualifying practice saw gusty winds and the occasion intermittent rain and despite the tricky conditions lap times did drop on very cold and damp track.
Taking the top of timesheets was Tom Sykes who posted a lap in 1.30.278 after having lead the best part of the session. However the Kawasaki rider suffered a crash at Old Hairpin towards the end of the session and less than minute later was followed Jules Cluzel, who binned his Suzuki at the same turn four.
The second fastest rider was Jonathan Rea, but he was a massive 1.282 adrift from Sykes and hot on his tail was Marco Melandri who was separated by just 0.011s.
Aprilia has decided to lodge an appeal with the International Disciplinary Court following Tom Sykes reinstatement to third place late Sunday evening following race 2 at Monza.
Sykes had just conquered the third position by overtaking Sylvain Guintoli during the last lap when he overcooked the Roggia and ran onto the paved run off area, but he returned to track taking back his original position ahead of the Aprilia rider to finish third.
After the race, Aprilia filed an appeal sustaining that Sykes outbraked himself and cut the chicane, gaining an unfair advantage by not conceding the position. The Race Direction after several hours ruled to drop Sykes to fourth and awarded third to Guintioli (who celebrated the ruling with a private ceremony, posting the above picture on Twitter).
Kawasaki later appealed to the FIM Stewards’ Panel stating that Sykes was already ahead of Guintoli and that he ran off track to avoid rear ending Marco Melandri, who apparently braked a litte earlier. The FIM Stewards re-analyzed the race footage and decided to reinstate Sykes to third.
Aprilia had five days to lodge another appeal, and have now sent their appeal to International Disciplinary Court who will have six weeks to make a decision on who between Sykes and Guintoli will get those precious extra three points.
After Aprilia’s appeal regarding Tom Sykes off track excursion and cutting the Roggia chicane during the final lap in race 2 at Monza, the race direction after viewing the footage decided that Sylvain Guintoli deserved third place.
However, what seemed the final word has now taken on a new twist and very similar to what happened between Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro in the 2012 Moto2 race at Barcelona.
Kawasaki filed a counter appeal with the FIM Stewards and after several more hours of reviewing the footage overturned the race direction ruling, giving Sykes back his third place and demoting Guintoli back to fourth again, ruling that the British rider did not take advantage when he returned to track in front of the French rider.
Aprilia now has five days to appeal.
Only in World Superbikes can you find a three way battle on the final lap without knowing who will take the victory.
Today’s race 1 at Monza, offered an incredbile and superb example of very tight exciting motorcycle race that saw Marco Melandri take his first victory of the 2013 season in a last lap, in a neck to neck to the wire battle with Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty.
The BMW Goldbet rider won with a just a 0.085s margin over the Kawasaki rider and just a tenth of a second from the Aprilia rider.
Tom Sykes was the polesitter but Eugene Laverty got a better drive into the first variante with Jonathan Rea, Sykes, Melandri and Guintoli chasing after him, but in lap 2 Rea hit a neutral and lost four spots falling from second to six in just one swoop, and his podium chances were already finished.
Monza’s Superpole was about taking advantage of tows and slipstreams, but Tom Sykes didn’t need to use any of these tatics with his Kawasaki ZX-10R as he scored his third consecutive Superpole of the season.
Eugene Laverty was the first rider to break Max Biaggi’s 2011 lap record, but Sykes then lowered it a few minutes later in QP2, and then bettered it again by another four tenths of second in QP3, and stopping the clock with a blazing lap of 1.41.233.
Aprilia factory riders Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli were equally fast especially on race tires, but in the third qualifying stint Laverty was just 0.078 from Sykes, while the French rider took third.
Opening the second row was an impressive Jonathan Rea with his Pata Honda. Marco Melandri had a tough session. The Italian almost missed QP1 as his BMW, like at Assen, didn’t start and his mechanics worked frantically on his bike replaced the butterfly throttle body and he was able to take part in the Superpole 1 with just five minutes to spare and he then made it through both sessions and in QP3 qualified 5th. Althea’s Davide Giugliano was forced to take sixth pipped by less than one tenth of a second by Melandri.
Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel will take off in seventh (he won the Supersport race last year at Monza) followed by team mate Leon Camier. Running off track at the Roggia with his last qualifying tire, left Chaz Davies down in 9th.
Michele Fabrizio on his home circuit will be tenth on the grid, ahead of Loris Baz and Ayrton Badovini who is the sole Alstare rider after Carlos Checa who withdrew with shoulder problems.
Max Neukirchner, Fabrizio Lai and Federico Sandi qualified 13th, 14th and 15th respectively.
If anyone was wondering why the qualifying tires had fucschia colored stripes instead of having the usual yellow, Pirelli decided to celebrate Mother’s Day with this particular color.
The final free practice at Monza finally saw a completely dry track which allowed the riders to work on setup after all the previous sessions that were either wet or very damp.
With a dry track Eugene Laverty was the fastest rider with a best lap in 1.42.375 that he did half way through the 45 minute session, but he wasn’t able to improve in the finale.
Marco Melandri was second fastest and just a little less than two seconds adrift and followed by Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, who was literally the fastest with a top speed of 337 km/h, and Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier, in a very tight session, with the first five riders separated by a little more than three tenths of a second.
Sixth fastest was Kawasaki’s Loris Baz who was unable to break the 1.43 barrier and tailed by Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies who posted the same identical lap time.
After being no lower than second in all three previous sessions Jonathan Rea dropped to ninth but the Honda rider did suffer a lowside at turn 1 when he hit the kerb just minutes after his team mate Kosuke Akiyoshi crashed out with a massive highside at turn 7 (Lesmo 2).
The Japanese rider apparently didn’t suffer any injuries, but did go to the medical center without recording a single lap.
Closing out the top ten was Michel Fabrizio who is sporting a one off helmet to support Sofia, a little girl who is suffering from leukodystrophy.
This afternoon’s Superpole could easily see Max Biaggi’s 2011 Superpole record (1′41”745) fall.
The fourth round of World Superbike season at Monza kicked off with the first free practice at the temple of speed on a rain swept wet track, which was less about top speed and more about avoiding dangerous crashes in tricky conditions in the various parts of the circuit.
Remembering all the controversy surrounding last year’s wet/dry conditions at Monza and last year’s intermediate tire that was blasted by riders, this year Pirelli has disegned a new one especially for this round, the Diablo Wet.
Taking the top of the timesheets in the first 45-minute session was Jonathan Rea who posted a best lap in 2.05.912 early on. The Pata Honda rider is debuting a new fuel tank to optimise aerodynamics and better electronics.
BMW’s Ayrton Badovini jumped up to second in the finale with his Panigale that now has a different air restrictor and demoting Tom Sykes to third after the Kawasaki rider had held the position for the entire practice.
Kousuke Akiyoshi, who is replacing injured Leon Haslam seemed particularly at ease in the difficult conditions as fourth fastest overall in his debut on Pata Honda’s Fireblade.
Jules Cluzel was 5th and the last rider to within a second from Rea, while Eugene Laverty, Loris Baz, Chaz Davies, Leon Camier and Marco Melandri closed out the top ten with very few completed laps around the circuit.
Missing from the grid is HTM Racing’s Ivan Clemente. The team has decided to sit out this weekend’s round.
Tom Sykes came close to his first double race win in SBK after a highly dominating win in race 1, and losing the victory in race 2 by a mere 0,089s, the British rider hailed the weekend ‘as almost perfect.’
Sykes lead every single one of race one’s 22-laps and also set a new lap record of 1’35.893 and he gave Kawasaki their first victory at Assen since 2006. In race 2 after leading for 18 laps he had to concede the victory to Eugene Laverty after hitting one of kerbs trying to pass him the Aprilia rider at the final chicane.
“Almost the perfect race weekend for us after winning Superpole as well. We have made progress after a slow start to the season so we will build more momentum now to move it all forward again. The bike was working well and was very consistent today. When Eugene came past me in race two I realised it was much easier to follow than to lead round here and it was just unfortunate that exiting the final chicane on the last lap I hit the kerb on the inside when I was trying to pass him, and I was out of the seat. It would have been great to win race two as well but I am happy with the day and we had and the great support at Assen from all the Kawasaki fans and some Tom Sykes fans. Race one was great for us and we did all we could. We have had a very strong winter test programme, learned a lot and have a lot of information and data. Now we are finding where we need to be. Overall I am happy because we did a lot of hard work in free practice yesterday. To be honest I surprised myself a little but the Ninja ZX-10R is working great. We have some great people who fight in my corner and they have given me a strong package so that I can do quite a lot of what I want to do with the bike. That first race was nice and believe me, to see that pit board gap get bigger every lap is magical for a rider,” said Sykes.
Tom Sykes wasn’t able to repeat a second victory at the Assen circuit. The Kawasaki rider tried to escape like he did in race one and set the pace, but the warmer surface conditions did not help him, but it did help Eugene Laverty.
The Aprilia rider stuck to Sykes tail for nineteen laps like a pilot fish, and with three laps to go Laverty pushed his way through at the Ruskenhoek to take the lead and despite being pressured by Skyes in the last lap, he defended his position to the finish line and won by just 0.089s and take his second victory of the season after a double zero at Aragon.
This victory has put Laverty into third in the standings tied with Chaz Davies and Sykes.
Taking the third spot on the podium was Loris Baz. The second Kawasaki rider battled for the entire race with Sylvain Guintoli and Jonathan Rea, but his aggressive riding style and battling spirit gave him his first podium of the season after he beat Rea to the finish line by just 0.052s.
The sun was shining at Assen for the first race of today’s double header and Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes dominated the race from lights-to-flag with a punishing ryhthm to take his first victory of the 2013 season.
After taking yesterday’s pole position, the British rider escaped after the second turn leaving the rest of the field the crumbs. Sykes race pace was not only highly impressive, but also embarrassing, as he almost never lapped over the 1.37 barrier giving everyone a least a half a second on he each lap, except towards the end of the race, when he started cruising and he would win with almost a nine second margin.
If for Sykes it was a triumphant solitary win, the battle for the two remaining podiums went to the wire, between Jonathan Rea and Sylvain Guintoli, which would see the Northern Irishman win over Guintoli to take the second spot by a mere 0.006s.
For the Pata Honda rider is was a matter of honor on his home circuit and he put in a couple of some stunning, hair raising overtakes on both Guintoli and Laverty, chosing the Hoge Heide chicane as his favorite passing point and his aggressive overtake on the final lap paid off as he raced to the finish line side by side with the French rider.
Eugene Laverty tried his best, but in the final corners he couldn’t keep the pace of the two in front of him and he finished fourth.