WSBK Laguna Seca: Sykes prevails in chaotic Laguna Seca sprint

Tom Sykes wins a seven lap dash to the chequered flag in Laguna Seca after two restarts and a crash from the lead for Marco Melandri.
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  • Tom Sykes wins a remarkable seven lap sprint to increase his lead in the WSBK standings to 44 points again
  • Guintoli and Rea complete podium after race one winner Melandri falls from the lead
  • Race stopped and restarted twice after separate crashes for Alex Lowes and Sylvain Barrier

Tom Sykes will take a comfortable 44 point lead into the summer break after holding his nerve in a breathless and at times chaotic second World Superbike Championship race at Laguna Seca.

An encounter that was stopped and restarted twice after separate crashes for Alex Lowes and Sylvain Barrier (see separate story), the race would end up being disputed over just seven laps, but even that was time enough for drama to unfold

Sykes had been looking good during the early stages of the original 25 lap race, getting a strong start from pole position to lead Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri initially, with Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano clinging on as the pack stretched out.

Indeed, though Guintoli would nose ahead on lap five with a pass into turn five, a savvy Sykes would simply respond immediately to be back through by the next turn, while Guintoli's lost momentum would allow Melandri up into second at his expense.

However, the race would be halted for the first time on lap ten due to a crash involving Alex Lowes, the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider misjudging a pass on Loris Baz to clip the Kawasaki rider entering the Corkscrew. Flipped over his bike and sent barrelling down the steep esses, a trip to the medical centre has diagnosed a possible aggravation of an ongoing ankle injury.

With the race shortened to just seven laps and the revised grid formed of the order at the time of the red flag, Sykes found himself facing a tougher task when the newly-promoted Melandri got the jump at the restart, with Guintoli slotting into third and a fast-starting Jonathan Rea now up to fourth.

However, this race would last just two laps when it was stopped again because of an accident this time for Sylvain Barrier, the Frenchman losing his BMW on the exit of the final bend and seemingly getting caught up in machine as he came down. More concerning, however, was the impact with the pit barrier, which left him stricken on the tarmac, the Frenchman subsequently taken to the medical centre on a stretcher. Latest reports suggest he is conscious and talking with medics.

Restarted for a third time with Sykes on pole again, the renewed seven lap sprint would once more begin with Melandri getting the better getaway than his rival, leading into the first turn, while Guintoli found himself bottled up behind the feisty Toni Elias.

Eager to make it a second WSBK win of the day, Melandri attempted to push on over the short race distance, but his efforts would go to waste at the end of lap two when he ran wide and slipped off around the final corner into retirement.

His error duly promoted Sykes into the lead and though Guintoli was now up to second place ahead of Elias, the delay in getting past and the short race distance conspired to ensure he never had a chance to get back on terms with his main WSBK title rival.

As such, Sykes was left to complete an eighth WSBK win of the year, one that swells his lead back to 44 points heading into the seven week summer break.

Though frustrated to lose more points to Sykes again, Guintoli can at least take solace in the fact he has extended a record-breaking points-scoring streak to 30 races now.

With Melandri out, Davide Giugliano looked set to be heading for a podium to give the beleaguered Ducati team something to smile about after Chaz Davies was declared unfit for the second race due to concussion sustained in his race one tumble.

However, though the Italian looked capable of challenging Guintoli for second, his race would come to an abrupt conclusion on lap three when he lost the front of the 1199 Panigale at the Corkscrew and fell into retirement. The frustration of falling aside, Giugliano will nonetheless be thanking his lucky stars after his bike slid back onto circuit on the exit of the bend, the Ducati fortunately missed by each member of the vigilant chasing pack.

Promoting Elias up to third place briefly, the Spaniard's hopes of a maiden WSBK podium would end with a pass by Jonathan Rea on lap five, the Ulsterman bringing a difficult weekend to a positive conclusion having made full use of the restarts to ascend from his original tenth on the grid.

Similarly, Eugene Laverty – who suffered a DNF in race one - ended his day well with a run to fourth ahead of Elias in fifth place, while Loris Baz and Leon Haslam brought it home safely for sixth and seventh on an otherwise quiet day for the pair.

The high rate of attrition amongst the factory bikes duly had the effect of promoting the EVO riders into lofty positions, with Bimota's Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon crossing the line eighth and ninth prior to their inevitable exclusion from the results.

As such, David Salom picked up his second class win of the day to multiply his advantage at the top of the EVO standings once again, his eighth place also the best result for an EVO bike this year.

Alessandro Andreozzi was classified in ninth place for easily his and Pedercini Kawasaki's best result of the year, while Leon Camier kept it upright to secure MV Agusta's first top ten finish with the F4RR on his maiden outing with the manufacturer this weekend.

Behind them, Jeremy Guarnoni, Bryan Staring and Sheridan Morais pick up points for 11th, 12th and 13th, while local wild-card Larry Pegram has the honour of becoming the first rider to score WSBK points for Erik Buell Racing in 14th, the experienced American doing so on his privateer 1190RX ahead of the full-season factory machines.

Indeed, Geoff May would have to make do with 16th and out of the points, with Gabor Rizmayer also scoring his first WSBK point in 15th place for Team Toth BMW.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sykes, Race 1, Start,  U.S. WSBK 2014.
Sykes, Superpole, U.S. WSBK 2014.
Sykes, U.S. WSBK 2014.
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July 14, 2014 6:00 AM

Man, talk about attrition. Feel bad for CD7 and AL22. Both were fast. Good that they have time to recover. Same can be said of DG34. Melandri, the win is great but the dnf can't happen. Hopefully, SB52 is ok as well. Good on JR65 getting on the box first time @ Laguna. Guintoli could have done the double, right there both races. Sykes showed why he is the champ on his way to title two. As many have pointed out, champions know when it's better to settle for a third rather than throw the thing down the road. WSBK, the "more bang for your buck" series.

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