Crash.Net WSBK News
Donington Park WSBK 2012 - Sunday
13 May 2012
Let's put controversy to one side and take a look at some of the other riders who put in fine performances during that second race.
Though each was perhaps fortunate to be promoted two positions right at the end, Leon Camier was a deserved fourth place for both his and Suzuki's best finish of the season. Even before the accident Camier was lapping a similar pace to the leaders and would have always been just three seconds adrift. Big progress for the manufacturer this weekend.
Further back, Sylvain Guintoli saved face for Ducati on a fairly disappointing weekend. In fact, that fifth place was the lowest finish for any manufacturer today...
Behind him, the ever-reliable Ayrton Badovini is finally rediscovering the consistency that took him to the overall top ten in 2011, though he probably still wishes he'd found it in time for Assen...
And finally, kudos to Loris Baz and Peter Hickman to finish eighth and ninth respectively on their WSBK debuts, ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama on the Honda. Funnily enough, ninth for Hickman is higher than he has managed in BSB this season, which is handy because there are rumours he may not be riding a Kawasaki at Snetterton in a couple of weeks...
In case you were wondering, I have been a busy beaver this weekend getting interviews for you to be shared on Crash.net.
You will see the fruits of my labour between now and Miller Motorsports Park with Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Haslam, Marco Melandri, Leon Camier, Jonathan Rea (all pre-race unfortunately), Hiroshi Aoyama and Carlos Checa among those lucky enough to have a chat with me this weekend...
There is no indication coming that Rea is under investigation for his part in the collision, not least because the press officers for both Honda and BMW are busy tapping away behind me. Fortunately they are on opposite sides of the room...
Ignoring the circumstances of today's races, today was probably clearest indicator yet that the title race is wide open.
Indeed, five manufacturers fill the top five positions in the overall standings, and they are all within striking distance of Max Biaggi in the lead.
Place your bets now...
Well... where to begin! Let's start from end, in particularly that last corner.
First and foremost, you can only feel gutted for Leon Haslam. He is more than British, he is the local lad that grew up close to Donington Park. A win here would have meant more to him than anyone else. To lose it on the final corner through no fault of his own is heartbreaking for even the stoniest of viewers.
Attention thus turns to who is at fault then. Some will say Melandri shouldn't have forced the point with a fairly rash attempt at a pass into the final corner, while others will point the finger at Rea for diving for a gap that was always going to close.
However, racing incidents are often defined by the factors surrounding it. If Melandri hadn't made the move, Rea wouldn't have attempted to follow through. The pass wasn't clean, but contact was as much about Haslam - no doubt startled by Melandri - turning in not expecting a Honda to be there as it was Rea leaning on him.
Of course, Rea didn't intend to knock Haslam off and, technically speaking, he was alongside enough for it to be classed as a racing incident... which is why I was call it just that. Not that 'technically speaking ' will make the Haslam family, or BMW, feel any better.
Been a bit distracted by a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix (well done Williams!), but other notable results in that Supersport race included Glen Richards's ride to fifth, an impressive result for the wild-card entrant.
On the other side of the scale, Fabien Foret's title charge is unraveling by the race as he could only manage a nondescript run to tenth. The man was the joint leader of the championship before Monza, but is now 26 points adrift.
After several near misses, not least last week at Monza, Sam Lowes can finally call himself a World Supersport race winner after a mature ride to victory here at Donington Park.
An emotional moment for the youngster, Lowes shrugged off a disappointing start to grab the lead on lap eight and didn't look back - which is just as well because Sofuoglu was beginning to put the pressure on.
A popular win in front of his home fans, could this be the win that kick starts the Lowes title campaign...?
Without meaning to gloat, didn't I say it'd be a Melandri, Haslam, Sykes podium...?
It's looked in the offing for some races but BMW can finally call themselves WSBK race winners following Marco Melandri's win in race one.
An exciting and incredibly tense race, though it was a little disappointing from a British perspective, Melandri was in fairly imperious form, where as Haslam was just as quick - if not quicker - but too error-strewn.
A few may speculate whether Melandri brake-tested Haslam into the chicane or Haslam just got too close (neither will ever say), but few will deny a BMW 1-2 is good for the sport.
Good effort from Sykes, who valiantly held onto the podium with a bike that looked lively in the closing stages. His battles with Haslam and Biaggi showed spirit, earning him a result that puts him just a point off the series lead.
Elsewhere, Rea was excellent in the final stages on the harder tyres, though the Ulsterman will no doubt be wishing they'd come to life just a lap or two earlier.
The pit walk is coming to an end, which means the riders wil be lining up on the grid for the first World Superbike race of the weekend.
Time to get your predictions in then... Myself? A Sykes, Haslam and Melandri podium, but in which order, I haven't decided yet!
Injury, food poisoning or not, Sam Lowes sends out a warning signal to his rivals in warm-up by breaking the lap record set by Jules Cluzel on the way to pole position yesterday.
Six tenths faster than second place Sofuoglu, provided Lowes can keep it upright throughout the 22 lap race, he is going to be very hard to beat...
We're getting used to seeing Sykes at the top of the timesheets this year and while a brief 15min session doesn't always give much away about the races, this is nothing less than a good sign for the arriving fans.
Few other dramas to speak of, though Davies seems to have lost a fan in Giugliano after the Italian rather candidly made his feelings known in the Esses with a rather 'Rockette-like' kick towards the Aprilia rider, seemingly after getting in the way.
In the Supersport class Sam Lowes will be striving for his maiden victory, but to finish first, first he will have to finish.
The local favourite has been looking very quick around his home circuit all weekend, but a costly fall during Q2 prevented him from taking pole position. Injuring his finger, just to supplement his bout of food poisoning, there are a few reasons to prevent Sam from getting that long awaited victory, but the motivation of doing it front of your home crowd will undoubtedly override that…
An interesting point to emerge from Superpole was the Pirelli tyres, after the riders switched between race and qualifying rubber in an effort to get a pole-winning time.
Perhaps the best example of this was Haslam, who was forced to use a qualifying tyre in SP1 when an early technical issue put him onto the back foot. Forced to try and progress to SP3 using a race tyre, Haslam found his bike better suited as he not only topped the short session, but actually broke the lap record!
Back onto the qualifying tyre for the shootout, Haslam went faster still, despite encountering chatter on the BMW, and will start second for his troubles. If conditions stay similar, Haslam looks closer to a BMW victory than ever before today…
So Sykes is on pole position for Sunday's races, which is potentially significant for many reasons.
Firstly, he is well placed to the first British victory at Donington Park since James Toseland in 2007.
Secondly, if he takes the championship lead at the end of the races, he will become the first Kawasaki rider to do so since Scott Russell in 1993.
Thirdly, he has the chance to make it ten consecutive races that he has led at the end of the opening lap.
And finally, he now has 6 pole positions to his name - that's more than James Toseland and Max Biaggi, and just one adrift of Noriyuki Haga!
A brisk early start for me, but the sun is out here at Donington Park and a similarly sunny disposition can be felt amongst the incoming crowds as they cheer on a potential British winner.
Tom Sykes is on pole position, but Leon Haslam is looking poised in second position having been impressively fast on race rubber during Superpole yesterday.
Jonathan Rea and Leon Camier are also looking strong this weekend, but Marco Melandri, Max Biaggi and Sylvain Guintoli can never be discounted. Or Carlos Checa from ninth. In fact, predicting a winner in World Superbikes is never easy - this isn't MotoGP, after all...