Round 10 - Race 1 (Saturday 17th Sep 2016)
With Tom Sykes finishing the first race of the Lausitzring weekend in second place, and his team-mate Jonathan Rea crashing out after finding a false neutral in the entry to a turn, it was a day of diverging fortunes for the official Kawasaki WorldSBK riders.
Early in the 21-lap first race Sykes was sitting second and Rea third on their Ninja ZX-10Rs, having started second and sixth on the grid respectively. Rea had to qualify out of Superpole 1 in order to join the top 12 riders in the second Superpole contest, but did so with ease and ended up in a second row starting position.
A dry race unfolded after a wet track surface had welcomed the riders in the final free practice session, and Superpole 1, earlier in the day. As Sykes set about trying to keep pace with runaway race winner Chaz Davies, Rea was settling into his rhythm behind. Sykes held a good pace to the end to make sure he kept second place from a closing Nicky Hayden but a gearchange issue on lap seven saw Rea run wide on corner entry, at turn ten, and then crash out as his bike re-engaged gear, suddenly regaining rear traction.
With Rea and Sykes 1-2 in the championship before the Lausitzring weekend had begun they enter the second and final day in the same order, but with Rea’s points advantage now reduced to 26. In the Manufacturers’ Championship Kawasaki still has a very healthy leading advantage, now set at 90 points.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I feel we have had an acceptable race. For sure not perfect but second position compared to many others is fairly good. I would like to say a big thank you to Marcel, Danilo and my side of the garage because I feel we achieved the best we could in the short time available. We had no previous data reference here and we were able to make a good race. We had to experiment a lot and I think we found an acceptable set-up. Not perfect, because ten seconds to the lead is quite a gap, but I was able to react to my pit board with Nicky Hayden sitting behind me. Tomorrow we need to find a bike set-up where I can do the lap times a little bit more easily. Today I was missing some apexes and tomorrow we need to try and iron that out. There is a lot of pressure at this ti me of the season and we have seemed to find some kind of momentum, so we have to build on that.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): "Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is a very disappointing way to end the first race. After a difficult start to the weekend we had been managing quite well. I had a good start and settled into a rhythm behind Tom, but Chaz Davies’ pace saw him in a different race. I found a false neutral entering turn 10 and tried to get it into first gear before the corner. Right at the exit of the track it went into first gear and highsided. I was not injured in the crash. This is the first time that my Alpinestars air-bag race suit has been called on to go off, so I was happy to be protected by that. Yesterday we did not have the pace but we made changes today. Now we will think about what we need to do to improve the bike a little again tomorrow. I need to understand what the bike needs now, especially under acceleration. It is a frustrating way to end the fist race day but we still have the championship lead, which is important. We will come out and fight another day.”
Round 10 - Race 2 (Sunday 18th Sep 2016)
After experiencing very different fortunes on the first race day at the Lausitzring Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes once again posted a contrasting set of results on Sunday. Rea convincingly won a wet 16-lap race this time around but Sykes finished 12th, after falling and then restarting from the back of the field.
As the KRT duo lined up for the start of race two, scheduled for 13.00 CET, the heavens opened and the start was delayed to allow for a change to a wet race set-up. Another delay came after standing water and visibility issues came to light on the sighting lap. The eventual start of the race, at 13.47, was for a 16-lap contest and not the planned 21.
Both official Ninja ZX-10R riders made good starts in the rain but before the first lap was finished Sykes had slid off under braking, one of many fallers in the tricky conditions.
Rea took his chance to lead with both hands and pushed on at a fast pace, one that non e of his peers could match in the wet conditions. He was to win by almost ten seconds, even slowing up on the final straight to celebrate his ninth win of the year.
Sykes set about moving back into the points scoring positions with great determination and pushed to the very last to make sure he got every available point after his early stroke of bad luck.
In the championship Jonathan leads with 393 points from Tom’s 346, making for a points differential of 47. Kawasaki is now 99 points in the lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It feels like probably the most important win of my career so far. I felt that after yesterday and Laguna our backs were against the wall. In morning warm-up I be gan to feel good with the bike again after we had made some positive set-up changes. When we saw the rain coming on the grid we had to completely change to a wet set-up. It was one of those positions that with me leading the championship I had a lot to lose - but a lot to gain as well. I took my chance and put my head down from the start. I really felt good with the bike so I have to thank all my crew because last night my bike was not in a great way. They worked really late, and meticulously, to make sure the bike was perfect. To reward them with this result means I am really happy. So this is for my mechanics that have worked so hard and also for Pere and Paolo, who gave me such a good wet bike set-up.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I think it was probably a rider issue for my crash today, as the bike set-up was not working well and I think I overstepped the mark in the first race. We need to find a small set-up improvement in the dry but much more in the wet. That is not so good in one respect but I also know I can win races in the wet. It is just finding the correct balance and feedback for the rider and at this moment I do not have it in those conditions. I am sure we can find it. In racing everything is possible and everything turns on its head so fast. Yesterday I was 26 points from the lead and today 47. The positive is that over the last three races the points gap is now at 47 but three races ago it was at 71. We still have three rounds remaining.”
The next round takes place at Magny Cours in France, with race days on 1st and 2nd October.
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 10:
1. J. REA 393
2. T. SYKES 346
3. C. DAVIES 295
4. M. VAN DER MARK 203
5. N. HAYDEN 195