to view WSBK Race 2 Result
A year after claiming his maiden World Superbike Championship win in treacherous conditions at Silverstone, Loris Baz is celebrating his second success around the same circuit after emerging on top of a truncated second encounter of the day.
An exhilarating race that would see several riders contest the win, Baz found himself in the right place at the right time when a sharp shower with just over a lap remaining forced organisers to deploy the red flag and declare the result.
Even so, Baz had looked strong from the very start after sweeping into the lead ahead of Eugene Laverty on the opening lap, the youngster establishing an advantage he would maintain until lap eight.
Behind him, team-mate Tom Sykes shadowed him through the opening revolutions for a Kawasaki 1-2, with Chaz Davies working his way up to third place, ahead of Laverty, Sylvain Guintoli, Jules Cluzel and Leon Camier.
With Baz unable to string out a seven-strong pack, the close quarters would see Sykes lose out in a melee around Brooklands on lap eight, the title contender overtaken by Davies before coming off worse in contact with Laverty to plummet to seventh place. Struggling for pace thereafter, he wouldn't recover from that position.
Up front, Davies was immediately putting pressure on Baz, promptly slipping through on the run to Stowe on lap nine. Though Baz responded by re-passing into Arena, Davies would simply repeat his pass on lap ten to nose ahead definitively.
However, the race would be turned on its head by the role of Cluzel and Camier on their respective Fixi Crescent Suzukis, the pair making their presence felt to get amongst the leaders for the first time this season. Getting the better of Baz on lap 11, Camier and Cluzel would run second and third behind Davies at one stage.
Displaying confidence on the GSX-R1000 – a bike that has scored just three podiums since the start of the 2011 WSBK season -, Camier would go one better by slipping the Suzuki into the lead on lap 12 with a pass on Davies at Arena, while Cluzel followed suit just moments later.
Now running first and second, inter-team rivalry would quickly become apparent when Cluzel planted a dive on Camier into Vale on lap 13, a move that would lose his team-mate momentum on the exit and allow Davies and Baz to pass too. Worse still, when Guintoli attempted a lunge into Arena just moments later, Camier would run wide to lose more time, dropping from first to sixth in just half a lap.
By contrast, Cluzel was impressing up front, showing no hint of inexperience as he held firm from Baz and Davies, the pair having swapped positions on lap 14. Unfortunately for Davies, his own challenge would come to a frustrating conclusion just three laps from the end when his BMW cried enough on the exit of Club and trundled into retirement.
It meant victory looked as though it would come down to a three-way fight between Cluzel, Baz and Laverty, the latter having slowly worked his way into contention after a mid-race lull.
Back at the front, a revitalised Baz was putting his countryman under pressure, the Kawasaki nosing ahead once again with a pass with a pass at the end of the Hangar Straight into Stowe.
Unbeknown to him at the time, Baz's move would ultimately prove decisive as the spots of rain – which had been apparent from the start - would rapidly worsen as the riders arrived at Stowe on the penultimate lap.
It was enough to catch out Cluzel, who would slide out of second position, much to the dismay of his Suzuki pit crew. However, fortune would shine on the youngster when Leon Haslam followed suit moments later with a high-side of his own, prompting officials to throw the red flag.
With enough of the race completed for the result to be declared, the order was counted back to the end of lap sixteen, which meant Baz would be classified as the race winner – his second career win coming almost exactly twelve months after he claimed a maiden win in a similar weather-related scenario.
Having the foresight to remount his Suzuki, Cluzel was still able to be included in the results, which meant would pick up second position. A second podium of the day of Suzuki, it also marks Cluzel's first rostrum result in Superbikes around a circuit he has previously been a winner at in Moto2 and World Supersport.
Denied the chance to launch a final lap attack, Laverty was forced to settle for third place on the Aprilia, but has nonetheless given his title hopes a substantial boost.
With Davies out of contention, fourth place would fall to race one winner Jonathan Rea, the Honda rider struggling in the early stages before a late flourish hauled him up to fourth position.
His comeback would come at the expense of Camier, who – having lost positions when he was delayed by Cluzel and Guintoli – ceded further time after getting caught up behind Davies' expiring BMW. Nonetheless, he would eventually get the better of Guintoli by the chequered flag to seal his second top five finish of the day.
A tough day for all of the main title contenders, Guintoli and Sykes crossed the line sixth and seventh, the latter unusually off the pace once again to lose a little more ground in the title reckoning.
Still, they fared better than Marco Melandri, who suffered an off at Brooklands early on before recovering to ninth place.
It means Guintoli continues to lead the standings, 13 points ahead of Sykes, while Laverty has leapfrogged Melandri to move 36 points behind his Aprilia team-mate overall.
Elsewhere in the results, Ayrton Badovini completed two solid results for Alstare Ducati, finishing ahead of front-row starting team-mate Carlos Checa, who couldn't replicate the same kind of pace on the way to tenth.
Behind them, Max Neukirchner, Federico Sandi, Mark Aitchison and an ailing Davide Giugliano completed the points' paying positions.