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Sykes does it again at Oulton

20 July 2008

Tom Sykes followed up his maiden Bennetts British Superbike victory with a second win just hours later after resisting the race long attentions of Cal Crutchlow, Shane Byrne and Leon Haslam.

Although not quite as comfortable as his first race victory, Sykes' second win was no less impressive after prevailing in an incredibly tense dual that saw the top four riders separated by no more than a second throughout the race.

Once again getting a good start from third on the grid, Sykes was nonetheless beaten to the first corner by fourth place Leon Haslam, the HM Plant rider making a strong early bid for a first victory on the Honda.

However, Haslam's hopes were dented as early as lap two when Sykes simply out-braked him heading into Lodge corner. Unlike the first race though, Sykes was unable to escape the chasing pack, with Haslam leading Crutchlow and Byrne, while James Ellison held onto the quartet in the early stages too.

It was Crutchlow though that soon led the fight to Sykes at the start of lap four with a surprisingly risky move around the outside of his team-mate coming into the Old Hall corner, the pair very nearly coming together down the home straight before the pole sitter sneaked back ahead.

From here the race descended into a procession that would have been dull had they been intricately line astern for the next 15 laps. What was proving a slow burner though soon began to ignite as the last few laps approached, with Byrne making the first move by passing Haslam for third at Knickerbrook.

Now eating at the tail of Crutchlow, the Honda rider was determined to make a pass at Sykes, but with the Suzuki rider holding his line and maintaining a good pace, he could not produce anything more than a feigned attempt.

Byrne duly punished Crutchlow for not making his move on Sykes with a fine pass at the Shell Oil Hairpin, the championship leader finding an Airwaves Ducati shaped gap on the inside of the corner as he sneaked through. However, while Byrne set about lining up Sykes for a final corner lunge, Crutchlow was back past into second when he drafted through on the run down to Hislop Chicane.

Their time consuming 'switch-around' proved to be the break Sykes needed to put a small buffer beaten himself and Crutchlow as he rounded Deer Leap for the last time to record Rizla Suzuki's first double victory since John Reynolds did so at the same circuit four years ago.

Crutchlow was second, although will no doubt still be reeling from the fall he suffered in the first race whilst challenging for victory. Although he recovered to sixth, it means he has lost slightly more ground to Byrne, who in turn maintained his fine run of podium finishes with a pair of third places.

Haslam recorded his second fourth place finish of the day, while Ellison completed his best weekend of the season with fifth.

Although slightly ignored by the fight at the front, Simon Andrews enjoyed another strong race, the Lloyds Jentin Yamaha racer fighting back gamely after falling as low as 11th with a misjudged move on Michael Rutter early in the race.

Michael Laverty enjoyed a better outing this afternoon on the way to seventh, the Relentless Suzuki rider holding off the attentions of Karl Harris, who couldn't progress further than ninth after a bad start. The Yamaha rider was passed by the Hawk Kawasaki of Scott Smart late in race too, while Billy McConnell on the similar MSS Discovery machine rounded out the top ten.

In the Daily Star Cup, John Laverty produced his second win of the weekend, the Buildbase Ducati rider finishing 13th overall and holding off rival Gary Mason by just two tenths of a second.


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