Jakub Smrz has conceded he is 'disappointed' to have been denied his first World Superbike Championship victory at Donington Park by little more than a lap, but was otherwise pleased with a career-best performance.
The Czech rider looked on course for a shock win aboard the Effenbert-Liberty Ducati after getting a good start from the front of the grid and running with the leaders, before pushing to the head of the pack on lap six.
Proceeding to lap faster than any rider on the circuit, Smrz held a 2.4secs lead by the time Marco Melandri had worked his way into second place. However, with Smrz's tyres beginning to fade and Melandri on a charge, the Italian reeled him in with one lap to go to take the lead and the win.
Though frustrated to miss out on what would have been his first-ever win at international level – and his first in WSBK in 110 starts -, Smrz was satisfied with what remains a career-best second place finish and, remarkably, only his second-ever podium.
“Of course I am disappointed to not win the race but it was really nice and I am back on the podium, which is important. The feeling all race was very good and the bike was perfect, but in the end my rear tyre was gone and I could not push any more. Marco passed me and I did not want to risk anything in the end.”
"I'm obviously very happy with the results of the weekend,” Smrz, who finished eighth in race two, added. “I could certainly do better in race two, but was slowed by a clutch problem that didn't allow me to stay with the first ones. Without this problem and given the higher temperature, I could have been even faster than in the morning.
“We are already working with the Ducati engineers to solve this problem so that we can be more competitive in Assen, which is known as a track that I like very much.”
Smrz, who is renowned for his strength in qualifying, has only one other WSBK podium to his name from Assen in 2009.