Round 12 - Race 1 (Saturday 15th Oct 2016)
Tom Sykes and his fellow Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea secured second and third place finishes in race one at Jerez. As a result Kawasaki won the Manufacturers’ Award for the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship season - for the second year in succession.
Both Kawasaki Racing Team riders knew they would have strong opening races after Sykes had scored his eighth Superpole of the year this morning, with Rea just one place behind him on the grid. In the warm and dry opening race neither was able to keep the pace of eventual winner Chaz Davies for all 20 laps.
Rea took an early lead but Sykes passed before the end of the first lap, and held his lead until lap four. Despite Tom setting the fastest lap of the race on lap three, Davies passed him one lap later and eased away to a lead that would become a win.
Rea ran behind Sykes for a time but as the race unfolded Sykes eased out an advantage that grew to 3.8 seconds at the flag, closing up the gap somewhat to Rea’s championship lead. Third in race one was still positive progress for Rea, as he had never secured a podium finish at Jerez before today.
The headline success today, for all involved from KHI and KRT, was securing the Manufacturers’ Championship with three points scoring races left to run. With three races and a possible 75 points up for grabs still, Kawasaki is an unassailable 80 points ahead in the manufacturers’ standings.
Kawasaki riders – either Rea or Sykes in each case – have already taken 14 race wins in 2016, with eight 1-2 finishes. There have been 38 individual podium finishes for the official Ninja ZX-10R riders.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It has been a big day for Kawasaki, and for them to win two Manufacturers’ Championships on the bounce. We have been building up to this for some years and with two strong riders in the team we are able to deliver. It shows the amount of effort and support they are putting into the Superbike World Championship. To finish second today with two really strong guys either side of me is not too bad but it is also not perfect. We need to find an answer tomorrow as we had a little bit of a battle with the front set-up of the bike today. Hopefully we can then match the pace of Chaz on Sunday.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider) : “We definitely did not have the pace for Chaz today. With Tom it seemed like I could hang in there but I was taking a risk. The thing on my mind was that it was better to consolidate our points and move on, to take one step closer to our ultimate goal. We had no traction from early on and some front and rear slides so for tomorrow we need to understand that. All in all I am happy to be on the podium for the first time at Jerez. We have just won the Manufacturers’ Championship today, three races out from the end, so that is another good point about today because it shows the hard work that Kawasaki, the team and all the staff have been doing this year, as well as last year. I am happy to contribute to that back-to-back Manufacturers’ World Championship.”
Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager): “The combination of our two super competitive riders and our very professional team organisation again all owed Kawasaki to celebrate the Manufacturers’ title. These are good times for Kawasaki and we plan to keep them rolling for the future.”
Guim Roda (Team Manager): “I think we can be very proud to win the Manufacturers’ Championship. That is something we got to with the efforts of many people, suppliers and sponsors, and of course with the big job that Tom and Johnny did. So big thanks to them. To win the manufactures’ title in the first year that Kawasaki introduced a new model ZX-10R is really something. It proves the base of the bike is good, so we are very happy to show this potential and help to sell more bikes all over the world. I really feel the customers will ride with the spirit of racing using the street ZX-10R. This title has given us big motivation to continue our work even harder next year."
Yoshimoto Matsuda (Senior Staff Officer KHI Engineering Depar tment R&D): “We see this as a special year because we are having the 120th anniversary of the founding of Kawasaki Heavy Industries and it makes us so proud to win the Manufacturers’ Championship, both last year and this year also. This is very special for us. As the project leader of ZX-10R production and also having the responsibility of the world Superbike machine development this year, we have had a brand new machine to work with. So we are so proud, from both those points of view, to have had this chance.
Round 12 - Race 2 (Sunday 16th Oct 2016)
Jonathan Rea finished second and Tom Sykes third in the second 20-lap FIM Superbike World Championship Race at Jerez, meaning that one of the two official Kawasaki Racing Team riders will definitely be crowned champion at the final round in Qatar in two week’s time. Which one will be champion is still to be determined, however, after their strong combined Jerez podium performances.
Having guaranteed the Manufacturers’ Championship for Kawasaki on Saturday, when Sykes was second and Rea third, both official KRT riders aimed to try and overcome Chaz Davies on Sunday, to overturn his race one success. Davies was to win his second race of the weekend all the same but this time around Rea finished ahead of Sykes on the podium, in second place.
The second Jerez race was held in marginally warmer conditions than the first race on Saturday and with some set-up and tyre choice changes on board the KRT riders pushed hard to maintain their championship challenges. Rea passed Sykes at half race distance and from then on they ran together, finally crossing the line only 0.137 seconds from each other.
Rea drew himself 48 points ahead of his team-mate today with only one round and two races left to run. That margin was just two points short of guaranteeing Rea the Riders’ Championship at the Spanish round but he goes into the Losail ra ce weekend as hot favourite, with only 50 points available for Sykes if he wins both races.
Jonathan now only has to score two points or more to win his second consecutive Riders’ Championship with KRT. Only he or his fellow Ninja ZX-10R rider Tom can now win the championship itself, as Davies will be unable to score enough points in the races that remain to get ahead of Rea. Tom has an arithmetical chance of winning the title but also has to ensure he finishes second overall, if the goal of taking the championship proves impossible.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team rider): “I am satisfied with the championship gap. We can go to Qatar in a relaxed mood and look to pick up the target there. To date we have had nine race wins and done a very good job. I struggled with traction front and rear today and Jerez is a low grip track. As soon as the grip went off I was starting to struggle a lot, although not like yesterday. We changed a lot on the bike for Sunday, including the engine character. I had confidence with my team that it was in the right direction and I think we made one step forward. The temperature was up today so it was quite a different race, and slower at the end.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team rider): “Third is the best we could manage today but that is racing. It was a good race and a good fight over the distance but I just came out third best today. I was very close to Jonathan at the end but just not enough. I could have so easily tucked the front in so me areas but we saw it through to a podium finish. We will move on from this and try to be stronger. We have a 48-point deficit and we need to find a better set-up in Qatar to allow me to be aggressive from start to finish. I feel I am not able to do what I need to do right now. I do not want to lose second in the championship if we can help it. We have an important test tomorrow and utilise this.
The last of 13 rounds of WorldSBK racing will be held at the Losail circuit in Qatar, between 28th and 30th October.
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 12:
1. J. REA 462
2. T. SYKES 414
3. C. DAVIES 395
4. M. VAN DER MARK 255
5. N. HAYDEN 228