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Round 9 - Race 1 (Saturday 9th July 2016)

The first 25-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race of the Laguna Seca weekend was finally contested between eventual winner Jonathan Rea and his KRT team-mate Tom Sykes. Each had led the race on two occasions, with Rea upping his pace enough at the end to finish 0.819 seconds ahead Sykes. This was Rea’s first race win at the 3.610km long American venue.

From the start of the battle at the intense Laguna Seca circuit the action was close and combative. Overtakes were put in between the leading trio at the largely one-line circuit but soon after Chaz Davies had taken the lead over the Rea and Sykes he fell and was unable to restart.

When the shadowing figure of Davide Giugliano also fell from third place the fight was on between Jonathan and Tom for the victory. Rea eased out his lead after re-passing Sykes with five laps to go. Pushing on in the dry but windy conditions, Jonathan recorded his eighth win of the season and the 37th of his career. His latest victory kept his 100% podium finishing record intact in the best possible way.

With Sykes close behind him at the flag Rea still extended his championship lead over his team-mate to 71 points - 368 to 297 - with one more race to come on Sunday at Laguna, before the start of the long summer break.

Earlier on Saturday Sykes had won Superpole to earn his seventh pole position starting place of the year, and the 37th of his career. Rea had qualified only 0.055 seconds behind and was second on the grid.

Jonathan Rea (#1) & Tom Sykes (#66) - Superpole, Round 9, 2016 WSBK Championship

Jonathan Rea (#1) & Tom Sykes (#66) - Superpole, Round 9, 2016 WSBK Championship

Jonathan Rea: “I am super happy to have won here and now that we have had 25 laps on the bike in race conditions we have good information for tomorrow, to try and improve again. I am happy with the result but it was, honestly, not my most beautiful race because I made quite a lot of mistakes. I am sure when I watch it back I will be quite upset with myself but the most important thing is the 25 points for winning. That is good for everything - for the morale of the team and the championship. We have one more race tomorrow and it will be important to do a good job then before the start of the eight week summer break.”

Tom Sykes: “I think overall we had a fairly good bike set up but we just struggled with the last part of the turns and over 25-laps it adds up. I had to compensate in some other areas and that was not ideal, especially in the windy conditions. I think I am happy enough and I could not do anything more. Jonathan rode a good race and we just couldn’t get that extra little bit. We need to find a small change in the set-up tomorrow to improve in one area. Overall, I was happy with the performance at the start of the race and made some good lap times in the windy conditions. I think we have room for improvement tomorrow. Second is the best we could do today and second is not a disaster! We can build on this.”

Round 9 - Race 2 (Sunday 10th July 2016)

A battling and front-running win from Kawasaki Racing Team rider Tom Sykes gave him his fifth race victory of the season on the latest model Ninja ZX-10R, in what was a shortened 21-lap Sunday Superbike World Championship race. Championship leader Jonathan Rea (KRT) retired from the race on lap six after experiencing a technical issue, recording his first no-score of the season.

After the first attempt at running the second WorldSBK race of the Laguna weekend was stopped by a red flag incident the shortened restart provided a spectacular contest for the fans. After Rea had dropped back from the lead after running wide, and then retired a short while later, it was a straight fight between 2013 world champion Tom Sykes and two chasing Ducati riders.

Despite constant pressure from behind Sykes kept the lead from lap three onwards to record his fifth win of 2016, and the 31stof his career. He was 0.209 seconds ahead of Davide Giugliano and 0.786 seconds in front of third place rider Chaz Davies.

Sykes has now won as many WorldSBK races as double champion Colin Edwards and is equal sixth in the all-time race winners’ rankings.

Rea, who won the first Laguna race on Saturday from his team-mate Sykes, approaches the long summer break with his championship lead reduced to a still-healthy 46 points. In the Manufacturers’ Standings Kawasaki leads by 95 points, with four rounds to go.

In the Riders’ Championship Rea leads with 368, Sykes has 322 and Davies 260.

Tom Sykes (#66) - Round 9, 2016 WSBK Championship

Tom Sykes (#66) - Round 9, 2016 WSBK Championship

Tom Sykes: “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.”

Jonathan Rea: “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.”

In race two Kawasaki riders Anthony West (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) and Roman Ramos (Team GOELEVEN Kawasaki) secured ninth and tenth place finishes respectively. In the championship Ramos is 13thoverall with 60 points. Dominic Schmitter (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) was 13thin today’s race and Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) scored his first point of the season for 15thplace. Gianluca Vizziello (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) rounded out the finishers in race two in 17thposition.

The end of the Laguna Seca weekend will lead to the start of the long summer break in the WorldSBK calendar. The German circuit of Lausitzring will host the tenth round of the championship, which will be held between 16thand 18thSeptember.

2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 9:

RiderPoints
1.J. REA368
2.T. SYKES222
3.C. DAVIES260
4.D. GIUGLIANO185
5.M. VAN DER MARK185
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