Tom Sykes wins Laguna Seca WorldSBK Race Two

Tom Sykes has taken victory in Race 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, heading the Ducati duo of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies over the line in a race that would have been impossible to script.

WorldSBK 2016 - Laguna Seca- Race Two
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca- Race Two

With a slight wheelie off the line from Jonathan Rea alongside, KRT rider Tom Sykes kept the lead from pole as Davide Giugliano benefitted from P3 and slotted in behind the Yorkshireman; Chaz Davies and Nicky Hayden the closest challengers behind.

The first few laps of the Race saw Michael van der Mark a high profile casualty, with the impressive Dutchman running on and losing control of his Honda before rejoining down the field. Leon Camier then shortly suffered a technical problem that saw the MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider forced to retire, followed by IodaRacing rider Alex De Angelis.

Giugliano took the lead on Lap 3, with the two Ducatis sandwiching the KRT pairing of Sykes and Rea, before a fall for Pawel Szkopek brought out the Red Flag. With the restarted Race set for 21 laps, the quick restart procedure soon saw bikes back on track, with Giugliano on pole for the restart from Sykes and Rea, with van der Mark able to restart, but from the final row.

The Italian lost the lead off the line to Sykes, before standing the Yorkshireman up and taking it back, with Hayden able to take Rea and move himself up into P3. The reigning Champion fought back however, and set off to hunt down the leading duo. Lorenzo Savadori was a high profile casualty soon after, as the impressive Italian rookie lost his Aprilia and crashed out on lap 3.

Nicky Hayden and Jonathan Rea
Nicky Hayden and Jonathan Rea

An incredible tussle down the Corkscrew then saw the Kawasaki duo attack Giugliano and fight it out, before a lap later Jonathan Rea went wide at Turn 6 and ran on – out of the frontrunning battle as he then stopped on track with a technical problem.

The lead trio of Sykes, Giugliano and Davies ahead and away, a six bike train of Hayden, Forés, Lowes, Torres, van der Mark and Canepa battled over P4, with positions swapping and the Corkscrew hosting another classic moment as Forés took the inside line after running a little deep, and Hayden refused to be overtaken.

WorldSBK 2016 - Laguna Seca- Race Two - Tom Sykes, Davide Giugliano
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca- Race Two – Tom Sykes, Davide Giugliano

An three-way fight for the win ensued with the two Ducatis fighting it out in a modern classic behind Sykes as the laps ticked down, with the Yorkshireman standing firm in the face of incredible pressure from the two red machines behind. As the three crossed the line almost together after the incredible fight, last corner drama ensued for those behind, with Alex Lowes trying to take teammate Niccolo Canepa and sending both off – with Canepa able to at least see the line quickly.

Forés came home P4 for Barni Racing, ahead of home hero Nicky Hayden in P5, with Torres on the Althea BMW in P6. Michael van der Mark staged an incredible comeback to cross the line seventh, ahead of Pata Yamaha’s Niccolo Canepa as the Italian managed to shoot over the line after the interruption.

Anthony West was ninth for Pedercini, ahead of Roman Ramos who completed the top ten for GO EVELEN.

Anthony West
Anthony West

Raffaele De Rosa ended his WorldSBK debut in P11, ahead of Karel Abraham for Milwaukee BMW, Grillini’s Dominic Schmitter and a re-mounted Alex Lowes in P14. Saeed Al Sulaiti took home his first point in P15.

Josh Brookes had run off after the first start and failed to make the grid for the second running of the race.

WorldSBK now heads into the summer break, before the grid get back on track at Lausitzring in September for the final four-Round showdown of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.

Tom Sykes – P1

“That was quite exciting and I had a lot of pressure from the Ducati riders all race long. We struggled with edge grip today so I had to change my style a little bit to defend my line. It destroyed the lap time but gave us the 25 points. Overall, it was good race for the spectators and a close one between three riders. I am happy enough but it was a difficult race in some ways. The restart was one more thing to think about and we made some changes, making the best of the situation. We never had the perfect set-up but I feel we made a good compromise. We have made a good weekend, with pole position, a second place and a win. We will go into the summer break on a high and try to learn from the information we took from the previous Misano round and this one, and then try to put the jigsaw together for the last part of the season.”

Tom Sykes
Tom Sykes
Davide Giugliano – P2

“What a fantastic race! I had so much fun, but it’s been difficult both physically and mentally, because it was paramount not to make mistakes while battling against Chaz. We’ve been both fair and I think we made it fun for people on track and at home. For me, to score a podium here is special because last year my season was put to an end in Laguna Seca and my career was almost destroyed. Yesterday was tough for the whole team, both Chaz and I crashed out while fighting for the podium with a good pace, but some small adjustments allowed us to make the most of our current potential. Now we’ll take a break but we won’t stop working to improve.”

Chaz Davies – P3

“Today went a bit better. After what happened yesterday, I concentrated on finishing the race first of all, initially focusing just on my rhythm. I wanted to avoid being particularly aggressive early on, but I was stuck in the group at the start and had to ask a lot to the rear tyre to recover on Davide and Tom. I think we could have won today, but I went wide at the Corkscrew, possibly because of the wind, and in the last laps I didn’t have enough grip to try more overtakes. It was important to go into the break with a podium, and we’ll use this time to understand where to improve.”

Stefano Cecconi – Ducati Team Principal

“We needed a good result to make justice to our potential. Davide and Chaz had a wonderful race, with a hard but fair duel that kept us on our toes but hopefully entertained all our fans. The next round will be in September, but we won’t take long holidays because we already defined a testing program to keep growing as a team.”

Nicky Hayden – P5

“I’m really disappointed for how the race went, especially for how things were looking before the red flag. At the first start there was a little glitch in the light and I got buried, but I was good in turns one and two and made up a lot of positions. I was feeling more and more confident and just had my best lap of the weekend on race tyres, then the red flag came out. After the second start something happened: we’re not sure what exactly at the moment as the team is still analysing the data, but the bike was completely different. I couldn’t brake as good as yesterday and I lost all confidence. It’s a shame, really, because after the first start I thought I could have gone for something really special. Nonetheless, I want to thank the team because they did all it was in their power to give me the best bike and the fans for their incredible support. It surely wasn’t a disaster, I would have liked to give more today, for sure.”

Michael van der Mark – P7

“Something happened at the first start because the lights went off and on again and that created a bit of chaos. I wanted to move up as quickly as possible but when I tried to outbrake Camier at the Corkscrew I was too hard on the brakes and lost the rear. It was a bit scary, but thankfully I was able to find a gap between riders and avoid any collision. After that I tried to recover and surely the red flag helped me a lot. I had a good start from the back of the field and managed to get close to the top 10 by the end of the first lap. I wanted to make up some more places but the feeling with the bike was not the same as yesterday; I could close the gap a bit with the guys ahead but that was it. It was really hard to stay with them, but overall we must be happy with our seventh place today and with the weekend overall.”

Pieter Breddels  – Honda WorldSBK Technical Manager

“We tried some changes to the front of both bikes, with an eye to the track temperature, because the front-tyre choice was the key for the race here in Laguna. In the end, with Michael we decided to go back to yesterday’s settings and made just a few clicks to the rear suspension. With Nicky we used a harder front spring, which he liked so we kept it for the race. Michael had a good start to the second race after the crash he had before the red flag, made up several places and was seventh at the end. Nicky was in attack-mode and got up to third, but then he had to give away a couple of places and for some reason – which we are currently investigating on – he couldn’t be as quick as he was before the race was stopped. He immediately said that the front wasn’t feeling the same and that was basically holding him back. Still, it wasn’t a bad round: Nicky was only behind Sykes in terms of points scored this weekend, while Michael was able to limit the damage very well today, considering his grid position at the restart. We have a long break ahead now, but we will be testing in five weeks at the Lausitzring, the same track that will host the next round. We haven’t been racing there for a long time, so it’ll be very useful for us.”

Jonathan Rea – DNF

“To not finish is disappointing because up to that point I felt so good with the bike. Even when I got stuck in some traffic at the beginning I was able to close down the gap to the leaders. I feel it was one more race we could have really capitalised on, but this is racing sometimes. We need to analyse everything with the bike. When I went wide in T7 I rejoined the track and it seemed I had a problem. As soon as I closed the gas the rear was locking and I heard some noise. I carried on through some corners, arrived in turn one and it was really locking a lot. Then in T2 something was wrong so I pulled in. We have to take the rough with the smooth because we have had a really good run so far, but it is a frustrating way to go into the summer break. I wish the Lausitzring round was next weekend because I feel really good with the bike and that is a huge motivation for me.”

WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca – Race Two Results
  1. Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team
  2. Davide Giugliano Racing – Ducati +0.209
  3. Chaz Davies Racing – Ducati  +0.786
WorldSBK 2016 - Laguna Seca- Race Two Podium - Tom Sykes, Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca- Race Two Podium – Tom Sykes, Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies
WorldSBK 2016 - Laguna Seca- Race Two Results
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca- Race Two Results
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca – World Championship Points Standings
  1. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 368
  2. Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team       322
  3. Chaz Davies Racing – Ducati   260