Round 7 - Race 1 (Saturday 28th May 2016)
As the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship season reached the halfway point over the weekend there was reasons for celebration for both Donington Park race one winner Tom Sykes and his third placed KRT team-mate Jonathan Rea. Sykes’ win gave the new model Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R its eighth win of the season and Rea continued his immaculate 100% podium finish record in 2016.
With Sykes having taken his 35th career Superpole success just a few hours before the first race of the Donington weekend he lined up at the head of the front row, with fourth place qualifier Rea one row behind.
From the flag the action started early, with a few hard passes being put in during the first few laps, helping to leave Sykes fourth on lap two. Rea was up to second by lap seven but he ran on, for the first time, after finding a false neutral.
As the race progressed Sykes moved forward, despite having some small issues of his own to deal with, and ended up passing long-time leader Davide Giugliano on lap 17. He fought with the Italian rider for a while but extended his pace to win by a clear 2.889 seconds after 23 busy laps.
This was his seventh straight win at Donington and his third race victory of the season on the new Ninja ZX-10R.
Rea ran out third, 9.808 seconds down, after his earlier issues and despite having the pure pace to challenge all the way to the flag.
With championship second place runner Chaz Davies crashing out of the race, Rea has a 58 point lead as he approaches tomorrow’s second day of Donington race action, while Sykes is still overall third and now only three points behind Davies at the halfway point of the year.
Tom Sykes (Kawas aki Racing Team Rider): “I have no real reason why I have won so much at Donington Park but what makes it more rewarding today is that I had to fight for it. I got a good start but a couple of the guys really made some strong passes to get in front. I am sure if we could have had some good steady laps at the beginning we also would have had good pace - but I am happy that I had to fight for it. I had some issues myself from the bike, which is unusual, but the good thing is that even considering these I dug deep and came out with 25 points. After six laps I could understand what was going on and I thought it would be very difficult, maybe impossible to win. We kept plugging away and I had to manage the bike a bit differently in some areas to compensate. Overall I am really happy to win and the plan tomorrow is to be stronger, safer and more consistent.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “My bike felt really good in the beginning of the race but near the end I started to lose some grip from the rear and suffered a little bit turning into the corners. I found neutral five times in the race and two times at the final corner I ran onto the gravel, and then had to turn around on the access road. Also in the Melbourne loop I used all of the track surface just to stay on the track. It was affecting my confidence a little bit so I started to roll of the gas and make sure I did not make any more mistakes. It is frustrating for me because at some points of the race I could see my pace was even faster than the front two guys. I was closing in on them after my first mistake. I consolidated my podium so I am happy for that but a bit frustrated that we could not fight at least Tom and Davide at the front at the end of the race.”
Round 7 - Race 2 (Sunday 29th May 2016)
The remarkable winning record of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and the Ninja ZX-10R at Donington Park continued over the weekend as Sykes won his second WorldSBK race in as many days, and his fourth of the year. Fellow KRT rider Jonathan Rea was a close second for much of the 23-lap second race, continuing his 100% podium finishing record in 2016 at the end and maintaining a strong championship lead. He now leads his own team-mate in a KRT 1-2, as Sykes went second in the overall standings after his race two victory.
After the official Kawasaki riders shot into an early lead - Sykes from pole and Rea from the second row - there were only two riders competing for the win and each was on the new model Ninja ZX-10R. Rea set a new lap record of 1’27.605 to get himself back into the slipstream of a fleeing Sykes on lap two, as the race settled into a high speed game of cat and mouse between the KRT team-mates.
With a handful of laps to go Rea made a pass on Sykes but in finding a false neutral into Goddards he lost ground that he would never quite make up as Sykes maintained a high and consistent pace right to the end. Feeling the effects of arm pump close to the end of the intense 23-lap race Rea eased up in the final few laps, with third place finisher Chaz Davies safely over two seconds behind him, and 4.437 seconds behind Sykes.
Sykes’ celebration over the finish line was obvious for all to see as he continued what has become a legendary run of race wins at Donington – eight in a row. A Superpole success and then a double race win made Donington yet another almost perfect race weekend for Tom, topped off by regaining second place in the championship.
Tom is now 56 points behind Jonathan, who has 293 points to Tom’s 237. Rea has five race wins this year, Sykes now four, with Davies and Nicky Hayden the only other race winners so far.
In the Manufacturers’ Standings Kawasaki has a commanding 53-point lead thanks to the exploits of the new model Ninja ZX-10R and the official KRT pairing of Rea and Sykes.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Eight in a row at Donington feels fantastic and I am over the moon. I had a good start to race two and had good pace. For sure it was not perfect and for sure that is why we had a lot of pressure. We did a very good job and had to fight again, so it is more rewarding when you win like this. I am grateful to Kawasaki, Marcel, Danilo and all the boys in the garage because we have won three of the last four races, which is quite promising. We have won on some difficult circuits this year, physically and from a point of view of the types of tracks. Thailand, Sepang and two-times here – which is a circuit of two halves. Consistently, I think we are getting better. I am going to bed tonight thinking we have had a perfect weekend.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I got another neutral going into the final hairpin corner, just as I had made my pass, so I was a little bit frustrated with that. In the end of the race I did not have much for Tom. I feel my bike was working really good, so I want to thank my team, especially as we have been working close with Kawasaki and all the crew to get the bike suited to me. It seems we are getting there now. In the last few races we have defined the engine character that I really like, so now it is the balance of the bike that seems to be working. To be so close to Tom, in a circuit that he is so strong at, is good because he is riding really strongly now. I am happy for that and happy to come here and make a big margin in my championship lead as well. That is the priority - but it would have been really nice to cap it off with a win in race two. My bike was feeling really good but near the end I just suffered a little bit with arm pump in my right arm.”
Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “It was another great day for KRT and we were especially pleased to be joined at Donington Park by Mr Horiuchi, the General Manager of the Technology Division of the Motorcycle & Engine Company at KHI. For him to be with Tom and Jonathan on the podium was a fitting end to another successful weekend.”
The next round of the championship will take place at Misano, between 17 and 19 June.
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 6:
|5.||M. VAN DER MARK||141|