Round 6 - Race 1 (Saturday 14th May 2016)
The first race of the FIM Superbike World Championship weekend in Malaysia belonged to front running winner Tom Sykes and the latest model Ninja ZX-10R, with second placed Jonathan Rea (KRT) closing out a strong 1-2 for Kawasaki at a hot and sunny Sepang.
On a day when the top two Kawasaki riders and the Ninja ZX-10R proved to be untouchable the front-running tactics of Sykes worked to perfection as he won his second race of the year and narrowed the gap to the second place rider in the championship to 23 points.
Sykes led across the start line on every single lap, setting a new lap record of 2’02.637 to go with his new track best of 2’02.246 which he had set to win Superpole just a few hours before the first race got underway. Sykes now has 34 career Superpole wins, and 28 race wins, to his credit.
In second place in the 16-lap Sepang race Rea achieved his main goal of the day, extending his championship lead over second ranked rider Chaz Davies. In keeping Davies in third place, Jonathan had a 39 point lead to take into race two on Sunday. Rea had finished Superpole in third position, for a front row start.
Jonathan Rea (left) & Tom Sykes (middle) - Race 1 Podium - Round 6, 2016 WSBK Championship
Overall, the all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has won seven of the 11 races run so far in 2016, with Sykes and Rea aiming to add to that total in race two
TOM SYKES (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team): “I really enjoyed the race. The bike was giving me plenty of warning, well in advance. We were able to respond in some laps in a good way and overall I am very, very grateful for all the hard work from Marcel, Danilo and all the mechanics. They have worked overtime. We have struggled to some degree over 12 months now, and this is the first time we have come a bit closer. The fact is that we were able to be consistent for race distance, which is very nice. We need to look to try and improve in some areas for tomorrow, because the other guys are fast. We had a bit of a gap today but everybody will aim to improve and we need to be one of those who also improve.”
JONATHAN REA (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team):“I was probably a little bit too conservative in the beginning because I was waiting for that crossover point, which never happened, so I could afford to be a bit more aggressive in the first laps. I think that looking at everyone’s front tyres in parc ferme that appears to be more of the limitation compared to the rear. I am happy because we achieved out target today, which was to further extend our championship lead. It was hard here because I had prepared my race in my head and followed the whole strategy right. Tomorrow maybe I can try to take some of the energy out of the front tyre, change the balance a little bit, to not give the front tyre so much of a hard time.”
Round 6 - Race 2 (Sunday 15th May 2016)
In a wet second Superbike World Championship race at Sepang Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea secured third place and a strong points score to extend his championship lead to 42 points. Tom Sykes (KRT) could not replicate his race one victory in the wet of day two and he finished up eighth. He is still third in the overall championship standings.
With no previous wet experience to call on at the resurfaced Sepang circuit both official Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R riders had little time to find a good set-up on full wet tyres. Starting from pole in the case of Tom and third place in the case of Jonathan they made good launches from the startline in search of more podium success.
Rea led early on and was able to hold onto a good pace for most of the race, even fighting back in the later stages to reclaim third place and a podium from his nearest championship rival Chaz Davies. In doing so he managed to keep his points total moving ahead once again and he now has 257 points to Davies’ 215, after six rounds.
Soon after the start Tom realised his set-up was not going to allow him to challenge and despite fighting for every point he dropped back to finish eighth, on a drying track surface that made his set-up issues more profound. He is still a healthy 62 points ahead of the fourth placed rider in the championship and leaves Sepang with another race win on his record thanks to his S aturday performance.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is so difficult in a weekend when you have all dry sessions, a dry race one - and then two hours before race two a monsoon comes in! I am proud of my team because they were so reactive to the changing conditions. I feel we got it quite close and my bike was giving me quite a lot of feedback out there. The strategy in the wet was just to do the rhythm. It was important to keep the corner entry traction off the tyre, as normally that is the first area that suffers. So when I set off it was just about managing everything. Nicky was too far in front for me to want to really grit my teeth and go for him. I was happy with our performance and that was the maximum we could do. Maybe if I had the race again I could have gone with Nicky in the beginning but third was the result we got today and we achieved our target for the weekend. That was to increase our championship lead, so I am happy we did that.”
Tom Sykes stated (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It was a big shame after the strong run we have had over the other parts of race weekend. I looked at a small change for the dry conditions today but heading into the wet we took on some experience from the Assen weekend and then went racing. But when the water cleared the grip from the surface was quite high. Unfortunately we did not have the perfect set-up for the grippy surface. I was not able to push the tyres onto the ground and get the traction we needed. Other than that, I felt if we would have made some changes we could have been stronger. I am disappointed not to capitalise on our momentum from yesterday’s win, but this is racing sometimes.”
The next round will be held at Donington Park in the UK, over the weekend of 27-29 May.
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 6:
|4.||M. VAN DER MARK||125|