TeamByTeam WSBK Preview: Pata Yamaha

After a four-year hiatus from the World Superbike paddock, Yamaha returned last season with the all new Yamaha YZF-R1. However, it wasn’t quite the spectacle we all expected it to be, with a lot of midfield results, injuries and crashes for both riders. Now, having had a year under their belt, the Crescent Yamaha squad will look to fight for the top positions in the championship and take their first win on their return to the series.

The bike came into the 2016 season with much promise and potential. Carmelo Morales made it look like a real weapon in the Spanish CEV Superbike Championship and Josh Brookes stormed off with the British Superbike championship in 2015. The MotoAmerica pairing of Beaubier and Hayes showcased the Yamaha’s talents but sadly that couldn’t be transformed on to the world stage. A third place in the penultimate race of the year in Qatar for the BSB bound Sylvain Guintoli was all that could be considered good for the team in 2016. Eight DNFs in 2016 mean that Alex Lowes’ 4th year with the Crescent team is a vital one in which he must take wins and podiums and challenge for a top four placing.

Michael Van Der Mark made the dramatic switch from rivals Honda and joined Yamaha as he spearheads the 2017 team. Three podiums from the first four races and strong races at Assen led to Van Der Mark becoming hot property in 2016. Yet to take that elusive first victory, he is hoping that he can bring the glory days back to Yamaha. Magic Michael took a pole position last season as well as six podiums throughout his 2016 campaign and could be a title threat if he gels initially with the bike. The star of World Superbikes is definitely one to watch as he and the Yamaha get quicker lap by lap.

Alex Lowes joins the Dutchman in a champion line up at Yamaha. Despite a poor season in 2016, where he languished in 12th in the standings, Lowes retained his position at Paul Denning’s squad. The 2013 BSB champion had a year of acclimatisation with the Yamaha last season, and stronger results towards the end of the season suggest that the Lincolnshireman could start off the upcoming season as he means to go on. A title threat may be a little too far, but nothing is in the way of podiums and wins for Lowes, who will set out to silence his critics and prove his worth.

Circuits for the Yamaha are all fairly good, although Losail seems to be a happy hunting ground for the team. Yamaha haven’t won at the first meeting of the season since Ben Spies won race two in 2009 and that is a record that quite simply needs to be put right. A track where luck will hopefully be on the team’s side is Imola, after Sylvain Guintoli’s complex foot injury of last season. Sepang was a good meeting for the team over the course of one lap, but with the learning year done, all could be set to change in 2017.

You can keep up to date with the goings on of World Superbike here at The Pit Crew Online. Give us a follow on Twitter @PitCrew_Online, and keep up with the live text commentary of all the big meetings!

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

TeamByTeam WSBK Preview: Milwaukee Aprilia

After a difficult debut year for the team in 2016, the SMR Milwaukee set up switches from BMW to full factory Aprilia, taking on two new riders in the process. The former British Superbike champions come into 2017 with the determination to put last year complexities and troubles behind them, and take victories and podiums on a bike that is a proven winner.

After leaving the sport in 2014, Aprilia have returned to the championship two years later, with a modified version of the bike they’ve left us. Split throttle control means the likes of BMW and Kawasaki will have to work hard but the Italian manufacturers of Aprilia and Ducati can carry on as normal. Shaun Muir believes that this is one of the main reasons that can see the team challenge from the first race of the season in Australia.

The first new rider is returning World Superbike heavyweight Eugene Laverty. Like Stefan Bradl and Marco Melandri, Laverty is another MotoGP refugee, and although 2016 proved to have many top 10 finishes in the Grand Prix world, the Irishman was not accepting any poor deals, and will come back to a paddock he knows well. With 13 wins to his name thus far, it would be fair to say that Norge will be on it from the word GO! Can the former World Supersport champion prove that he can win races even after two seasons away?

Lorenzo Savadori did such a fine job on a satellite Aprilia last season, that he’s been given an upgrade to the real McCoy. Joining the official factory Aprilia team this year, the Italian is definitely one for the future. Having crashed out of podium places on a few occasions last season, he will be determined to prove that he isn’t just a rider who can challenge for top five placings, but challenge for the podium and wins. The winner of the FIM Superstock 1000 series in 2015, the Italian 125cc champ in 2007 and still only 23 years old, Lorenzo will be riding on a crest of a wave this coming season, as he enjoys a 2nd season aboard the same bike. Just the consistency he needs to become a winner.

The Aprilia team have always enjoyed success at Phillip Island and took podiums at Buriram with Leon Haslam in 2015. The last time that the machine won at Aragon however was back in 2012 with Max Biaggi, and you have to go all the way back to Regis Laconi in 2001 since the team’s last victory at Imola. Laverty and Savadori will be looking to set a few records straight when they mount the Milwaukee Aprilia in 2017.

You can keep up to date with the goings on of World Superbike here at The Pit Crew Online. Give us a follow on Twitter @PitCrew_Online, and keep up with the live text commentary of all the big meetings!

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Yamaha WSBK Squad Launch 2017 Campaign

As the new racing season draws closer, Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. has taken a moment between preseason testing activities to gather all of the Official Race Teams together to kick-off the 2017 Road and Off-Road line up. The international racing media were invited to join the Official Race Teams Press Conference on 7th February at the headquarters of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team in Gerno di Lesmo, Italy.

The Pata Yamaha Official Team WorldSBK were next to showcase their 2017 racing livery, with British rider Alex Lowes returning for his second year with Yamaha alongside new for this season teammate, Dutchman rider Michael van der Mark. The pairing have already enjoyed positive preseason testing alongside the WorldSSP600 team and are keen to arrive in Australia for round one of the 2017 season at Phillip Island to kick off their campaign. WorldSBK siblings the Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team return for 2017 ready to do battle with the YZF-R1M in the newly defined European Superstock 1000 Championship. French rider Florian Marino returns for the second year having showed impressive pace from the start of 2016- including pole position in the opening race – before an accident in the second round cut his season short. Intensive training and rehabilitation now complete, Marino is eager to get back to work with his Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team and confirm his skill, speed and talent. He is joined by new teammate, Italian rider Roberto Tamburini, the 2015 Superstock 1000 Cup runner up.

There was one more surprise for the gathered media to set the tone for the day, as Yamaha Motor Racing Director Lin Jarvis took to the stage to thank media and partners for their attendance and share insight into the 2017 MotoGP strategy for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team, the pinnacle of the wider Yamaha commitment to Motorsport.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Rea acknowledged with Outstanding Achievement Award from Kawasaki

Double World Superbike Champion, Jonathan Rea, was honoured last week as he was presented with Kawasaki Motors UK’s ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ by Howard Dale, General Manager of Kawasaki Motors UK and Craig Watson, UK Sales Manager.

Howard and Craig flew to Ireland to hand over the award from Kawasaki Motors UK. As well as the award, Jonathan was presented with a specially commissioned oil painting too – showing a scene from the final race of Jonathan’s triumphant 2016 WSBK campaign, under the floodlights of Qatar wearing his celebration design Arai helmet.

From this unique painting, 165 limited-edition prints have been created – none of which will be sold – however, customers who pre-register to attend Kawasaki’s 2017 New Model launch night on Friday 24 February could be in with a chance of winning one. Each Kawasaki dealer will have one limited-edition print each to present. Simply visit to register for the event: www.getevencloser.co.uk. Each print is numbered and comes with a letter of authenticity.

Howard Dale said: “Jonathan is always very quick to thank all those supporting him to enable him to chase his dreams. We, at Kawasaki Motors UK, felt that it is not only a nice gesture but also the right thing to do to show our appreciation of his talent, professionalism and his commitment to do his best for himself, his team and Kawasaki. His success reflects onto Kawasaki as a brand, creates brand exposure and makes our job of selling and marketing that much easier.”

Craig Watson explained the thought process behind commissioning an oil painting: “I wanted to do something that would not only be a great surprise for Jonathan, but something that he could keep forever to remember. I called ‘Billy Art’ as I’m always amazed at the work he produces and asked if we could commission a one-off painting. We used a shot from the final race of the season – and this is it. I think it looks amazing.”

Jonathan Rea commented: “This really is a shock – but a fantastic shock. I was out with Howard a few weeks ago in Kobe near Kawasaki’s Akashi Factory playing darts and he didn’t mention a thing. I’ve only had a quick look at the painting on the stage but already you can see how special it is. It’s an honour to receive the award and the painting from the team at Kawasaki Motors UK.”

The first round of the 2017 World Superbike Championship begins at Philip Island, Australia, on February 24-26.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

From Brands to Buriram…

Over time, surroundings change. Patterns are often tampered with or erased all together. Even when the most drastic of changes do happen though, there are somethings that persist to remain just as they were back when they were formed, or in some cases, found.

The same rule applies to what was at one point, the only 4-stroke motorcycle racing series that was international. Since its Golden Era of the late nineties and very early naughties, World Superbike has been revamped. From the forests of Hockenheim to the grandstands of Portimao, the calendar has been one of the most notable changes over the years (apart from the riders coming and going). Since Carl Fogarty’s last world championship victory, there are just five circuits that have stayed on the calendar; two of them (Misano and Assen) have seen changes and two others (Donington Park and Laguna Seca) haven’t been year in, year out fixtures. The only circuit that has stayed since the Foggy days is Phillip Island, and we most certainly aren’t complaining there!

Since 2012, a staggering 20 circuits have been used by the World Superbike boys, and 13 of them will be in use come the 2017 season. Circuits that have been lost are the iconic Brno and the historic Nurburgring, as well as the short-lived Mosco Raceway and Istanbul Park. Monza, Miller Motorsport Park and now Sepang have also vanished from the track list. But even though it isn’t as popular as it once was, the series has maintained one thing.

The crowd. The backing singers to the superbike chorus. The atmosphere inventers, and the avid supporters. Now don’t get me wrong, some World Superbike circuits, if not most of them, are nowhere near as popular as they were. Circuits like Portimao have almost no one in their stands and Imola isn’t the Cathedral it was back in 2002. Although Assen has good supporters, there is one circuit that seems more popular than any of them.

Nestled around 5946 miles away from what used to be the most popular sporting event in the whole of the UK (Brands Hatch), is the Chang International Circuit, or Buriram to us WSBK enthusiasts. Back in 2000, the ‘European’ meeting at Brands Hatch hooked in upwards of 120,000 people on race day alone, making it bigger than the FA Cup Final of that year when Chelsea beat Aston Villa. However, now there is a new hub for the crowds, and Buriram isn’t doing a bad job.

Over the two race days last season, over 100,000 came to the second Thai World Superbike meeting. On race day alone, you couldn’t get in if you tried. Fully booked out and you could hear it too. The crowds brought back that feeling of excitement and passion that had been lost somewhere around the Edwards, Bayliss, Hodgson and Xaus era. But why do people flock to what is now the biggest event on the World Superbike calendar?

Its location is key. Thailand is a nation that rides bikes as a normal mode of transport. Like neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam further to the East, bikes make up a huge population of the total number of vehicles used on the roads. This automatically creates a love for all things two wheeled, so when it was announced that World Superbikes was coming to Thailand for the first time ever, anyone and everyone was jumping for joy and bouncing off their own rev limiters.

But one cannot simply put it down to a biking nation. Instead, maybe it’s because in both years World Superbikes has been at Buriram, there’s been local riders doing the business. Who can forget when Ratthapark Wilairot won for the first time ever in World Supersport at home. The country’s first race, World Supersport’s first Thai winner, and to top it all off, his brother Ratthapong took the 5th place in the race. The crowd was thrown into a frenzy, as they streamed onto the track to applaud him. It is quite similar to why Brands Hatch was so attractive. British wildcards like Chris Walker, Neil Hodgson, Niall Mackenzie, Steve Hislop, James Haydon and Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne to name all but a few, drew crowds in from not just all four corners of the United Kingdom, but all four corners of the globe. It wasn’t just ‘Superbike Sunday’, it was a festival of booze, tents and cheers from Friday morning to Monday noon.

The track at Buriram is also amazing. The perfect mix of fast, sweeping corners and hard braking hairpins means there’s action aplenty throughout the field. Grandstands which enable the spectators to glance not just over one corner, but 99% of the circuit are also a popular choice, and even one that Brands Hatch itself doesn’t feature. It almost feels natural. Like Brno or Mugello. Where everything is in a bowl, a valley. Like the city of Andorra La Vella, where everything is nestled tightly together in the mountains, but can explode into life at a moment’s notice. Only this time, the track is the city and the huge grandstands take the place of the mountains. The roar of the thousands above, descending and fuelling what is likely to be an already dramatic race.

However, having contacts out in Thailand is a little bit helpful. One reason why there is so many people is also because if you go on a guided tour of the local football ground (owned by the same people), then you were given free tickets for Sunday. Now, I’m not for one moment saying that the huge crowds are entirely down to that, but it will have an influence. The Thai race of people are hard workers, charmers and grafters, but once they have a day off, that is it. They have a DAY OFF. My dad lives out there throughout the year, and has seen this for himself. There’s a reason Thailand is known as the “Party capital of the Far East”.

So, whether you still see Brands Hatch as God’s stocking filler or Thailand as the future of motorsport, it is without doubt doing the business on the World Superbike front. Thailand is a destination, it isn’t just another round of the calendar. Instead, it’s a festival, just like Brands Hatch. It oozes atmosphere, passion and drama, like a good meeting should do. Thailand is the country, Buriram is the town, Chang International Circuit is the venue and the whole thing put together is one wild, World Superbike party.

You can keep up to date with the goings on of World Superbike here at The Pit Crew Online. Give us a follow @PitCrew_Online, and keep up with the live text commentary of all the big meetings! You can also follow my personal account on Twitter, @MotoGPKiko.

Kiko Giles

MotoGP and WSBK stay on Australian TV

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce the details of MotoGP™ and WorldSBK coverage on Australian television for the next two years, following contract renewals with both Network Ten and Fox Sports. The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship will continue to be shown on both channels, with WorldSBK remaining at home on Fox Sports.

On Network Ten’s Channel ONE, every MotoGP™ race of the 18 round MotoGP™ season will continue to be shown live and free-to-air – as well as streamed online – including additional further live coverage of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Pre- and post-race programming on the channel will also continue to give MotoGP™ fans expert analysis and reporting on what is sure to be another stunning year in MotoGP™ after a record-breaking 2016 – before and after every race.

With Fox Sports, MotoGP™ fans will enjoy a further two seasons of unrivalled coverage, with live, ad-break free and HD broadcasts of every race, qualifying and practice session of the Championship – including use of the MotoGP™ multi-screen service to get even closer to the action, from every angle on every lap. Fans will also be able to watch every Moto2™ and Moto3™ session as part of Fox Sports’ complete coverage.

Both ONE and Fox Sports will also provide localized content specially tailored to an Australian audience – with particular focus on Jack Miller as the Queenslander makes waves in MotoGP™ and pens his name on the illustrious list of premier class race winners.

In even more good news for Australian fans of two wheels, World Superbike will also remain on Fox Sports in 2017 and 2018. WorldSBK and WorldSSP races will continue being shown live and ad-break free across the country, as will the WorldSBK Tissot-Superpole qualifying shootout. Fox Sports will also promote both MotoGP™ and WorldSBK on their website and through social media channels, providing fans with a full and in-depth repertoire of reportage on the world’s premier motorcycle racing Championships.

Network Ten Sport Manager, Adam Cush: “We are delighted to extend our broadcast deal with Dorna Sports to ensure that Australian motorsport fans can watch all MotoGP races live and free. This deal further demonstrates Network Ten’s commitment to premium motorsport.

“Network Ten has a long history of broadcasting MotoGP and we are pleased that their expert commentary and presenter team will continue to bring this high-profile World Championship to all the Australian fans.”

FOX SPORTS CEO, Patrick Delany: “This year’s MotoGP and World Superbikes have delivered plenty of the thrills, spills and heart-stopping action we have come to expect from the world’s premier two-wheel racing categories.

“Today’s announcement means fans will be able to continue to watch every event from both championships – all around the world – with live, HD and ad-break free racing on FOX SPORTS.

“Add to this line-up, the most comprehensive live coverage of the Supercars Championship and Formula 1 and there has never been a better time to be a motorsport fan.”

Manel Arroyo, Dorna Sports Managing Director, Media & TV Area: “We’re thrilled that MotoGP™ and World Superbike will remain with Fox Sports in Australia, and that Network Ten are onboard with MotoGP™ once again. It is fantastic news for Australian fans of motorcycle racing to see such incredible coverage of both Championships for two more seasons. With a new Australian race winner on the MotoGP™ grid and the future of MotoGP™ and WorldSBK at Phillip Island confirmed, these renewals are the perfect final piece in the puzzle as passion for motorcycle racing continues to reach new heights in Australia.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Davies: I Saw it Coming

After winning Race 1 in a dominant fashion, Chaz Davies did the double under the floodlights in Qatar, home of the last round of the 2016 WorldSBK championship. The Welshman’s sixth consecutive race win and eleventh overall crowned him as the rider with the most wins this season. To further highlight his form, Davies also finished the season with the highest number of fastest laps (10).

Second at the start, Davies took the lead in lap 1 to progressively pull away from his rivals, led by Sykes. During lap 8, the race was red-flagged due to oil on track, resetting the gap. At the restart, Davies imposed his pace once again and neutralized Rea’s comeback before the 2016 champion ceded second position in both the race and the championship to his teammate Sykes.

After regularly taking part to the WUP session, finished in 14th position, Davide Giugliano was declared unfit for the race due to the worsening conditions of his injured right shoulder, which was further damaged by a contact during Race 1.

Chaz Davies: I wasn’t good enough for 2nd

“To do the double here, a circuit where we struggled last year, is a sign of much we turned things around. In the first half of the race I was just managing the gap, but after the restart it was a fast, short race. It was difficult to see the pit-board and I wasn’t looking at the big screens, so I didn’t really know how to manage the race, but then I saw Rea was coming back so I pushed a bit more in the last laps and did all I could to bring home the win. It’s bittersweet, because it wasn’t enough to secure second place in the championship, but I saw that coming. We’ve been the fastest out there since the summer break, and we’ll try to keep improving everyday, take it into next year and be as consistent as possible to get the big trophy in the end. Thanks everyone for all the support!”

Davide Giugliano: There couldn’t be a sadder way to say goodbye

“As my shoulder was still healing, I knew that any kind of blow could intensify the pain, but I still wanted to try to finish the season on a high note. Unfortunately, the contact in Race 1 strained the tendons and aggravated the situation. There couldn’t have been a sadder way to say goodbye to the team and Ducati, but I carry many beautiful memories within me. I think that both me as a rider and the bike grew a lot together in all these years. I learned many lessons, and it’s been an intense journey because I believe that having me as a rider elicits a lot of emotions, for better and for worse. I want to give my special thanks to my crew, as they always worked until late night to give me the best tools to race. Also thanks to the whole team and Ducati, which have always made me feel appreciated and worked so hard. I wish them all the best!”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Rea Champion, Sykes 2nd as Kawasaki Employ Team Orders

In 2016 Kawasaki and its official KRT squad won all the major titles on offer – for riders, manufacturers and team. The championship 1-2 for Rea and Sykes was the final part of the overall winning package for the Ninja ZX-10R. Remarkably, all this on-track success came in the first year of a new model, which was only launched a year ago.

The final race of the year got underway on schedule at 21.00 local time in Qatar and was planned for 17-laps. After an oil spill the red flags came out and the track had to be cleaned. A shorter 10-lap restart began almost 45 minutes after the first, and with full championship points issued.

Rea had run-on early in the first red-flagged race and was down in ninth on the grid for the restart instead of the pole position he had earned on Saturday. Sykes was second off the grid in the restart and harried eventual winner Chaz Davies, the only rider who could catch and pass Tom to take second in the points.

As Rea improved his pace and looked to win the final race of his second back-to-back championship season, he overtook Tom and closed in on the lead of Davies. Unable to catch and pass before the final flag he eased up and Sykes secured second place to maintain his overall second in the championship.

With both KRT riders on the podium their 2016 statistics grew again and made happy reading for rider and manufacturer alike. Rea, the 2015 and 2016 champion, has scored nine race wins this year, taken 23 podiums in 26 races, two pole positions and six fastest laps – including the new Losail lap record of 1’56.974, which he set on lap three today.

Sykes’ latest podium gives him 20 for the season, including five wins. He has earned eight more Superpole wins in 2016 and six fastest laps.

In the final Manufacturers’ Championship standings, Kawasaki has 582, 65 more than the nearest rival.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I was trying to get to Chaz to win the first attempted race. When I started the bike felt good but when I approached turn one I could not shift gears as a sensor had failed so I ran-on. I lost places so the red flag saved me when it came out. The crew changed it really quickly for the restart and we made a step forward. Today I rode with my heart; rode like I can. In a ten-lap race, starting from ninth place, the maths did not stack up well! I got beaten-up in the first two corners and spent too long behind Leon Haslam and Tom. Chaz had a bit of a gap on me but I closed it right down. When I saw it was not possible to win I decided to work for the team and Kawasaki. We rode a really, really fast race here. A lap record, a pole position and a world championship came our way this weekend, so Qatar has been pretty good to me.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “To finish runner up has a better ring to it than third and Kawasaki has gone 1-2 in the Riders’ Championship this year. It was a strange weekend in some ways but finally in the first part of race two, which eventually got red-flagged, I was preparing for a longer race. I think our pace at the end could have also been quite good over 17-laps. In the restart to finally do some 1’57 laps was something unexpected. After Jonathan passed me he was closing in on Chaz but obviously when he looked at Chaz’s lap time he would have had to do something special to win. Jonathan has had two great seasons and he has been the man to beat. It was a very good gesture from the other side of the team and this is something that I appreciate so much.”

Guim Roda, Team Manager, stated: “This is the first year of the current model Ninja ZX-10R’s introduction and it has taken the Manufacturers’ title, plus first and second in the championship. Sometimes, there are in life bigger things than your own interests, and that makes life magic and exciting. Today it was possible, for the first time ever, for Kawasaki to finish first and second in the Riders’ Championship. Be sure next year the competition will be there again and Rea and Sykes will provide a big show to the world again. Congratulations to Tom and congratulations to Johnny – you give the team something we lost in the past.”

Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager, stated: “We won the Manufacturers’ Championship, the Team Championship and had first and second places in the Riders’ Championship. I am absolutely delighted and the guys did a fantastic job this year again. They have stepped it up another level with the new Ninja ZX-10R.”

Leon Haslam (Pedercini Racing Team) made a remarkable charge in the final running of the ten lap second race, finishing fifth in his return to WorldSBK as a one-off rider. Roman Ramos (GoEleven Kawasaki) finished 14th in the race and in doing so also finished 14th in the final championship rankings.

Local rider Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was out of race two with a technical issue but Grillini Racing Kawasaki riders Gianluca Vizziello and Dominic Schmitter finished the ten-lap race 17th and 18th respectively.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Kawasaki pair do Battle in France

Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes (KRT) finished second and third respectively in the second 21-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race at Magny Cours, with Rea extending his championship lead over his team-mate to 48 points.

Rea has scored nine race wins on the latest Ninja ZX-10R so far this season and Sykes five, but despite being joined in a battle out front for much of the 21 lap contest – held in fully dry conditions – the late pace of Saturday race winner Chaz Davies also gave him a win on Sunday.

With both official Kawasaki Racing Team riders keen to add to their race victory tallies, especially after Sykes had been third and Rea fourth in Saturday’s opener, the front-running action was close and competitive between the riders who still occupy first and second places in the championship.

The conditions of race two could not have been more different from the wet and drying track encountered on Saturday. The dry surface allowed Sykes to post a new lap record of 1m 37.864 seconds, on lap three, as he rode away out front to try and gap the field.

The undulations and heavy braking areas of the 4.411km Magny Cours circuit provided many passing opportunities for Rea after he had caught up with Sykes, but Tom proved determined to hold onto his lead. He only surrendered it on lap 16 – temporarily to Rea and then finally to Davies. Rea re-passed Sykes with four laps to go and set about trying to reel in Davies. Rea had lost too much ground by that stage but still scored his first podium of the weekend in second place.

The top three riders were covered by just over 2.5 seconds at the end, with Sykes half a second from Rea across the line. After race two in France Rea has now scored 84 podium places during his career and Sykes 81. In the current championship standings, Rea has 426 points, Sykes 378 and Davies 345.

The next races in the championship will take place on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, at Jerez in Spain. The last round will be held at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, between 28th and 30th October.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I tried to plan my pass on Tom because he is strong right now and he is hard to pass at the best of times. When I overtook under braking, unfortunately it let Chaz come past us. Then I had to try to pass Tom again but already the gap to Chaz was too much. Maybe I spent too much time behind Tom but he is riding so well. I am happy with my race because, today, second place was the best I could do and I am happy with the way I rode. We need to improve the bike set-up in some areas but all things considered I am happy with the result. It is a 48-point gap now and it is nice to extend the championship lead, if by one point after Lausitzring last time and by another single point here! Championships can be won by a point so every one of them is important. If we can just have a clean end to the season hopefully we can do the job.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “When I started the race the bike felt really good and it was quite easy for me to manage 1m 37 second lap times. Unfortunately, for the first time all weekend, our pace dropped and I am confused about this. I then struggled to carry corner speed so that is something for us to look at. On Friday we were very fast and consistent but we had some issues in the second part of the race today. We were more consistent over the whole weekend this time, however, and we are making steps forward. Unfortunately it is quite late in the season now but at least we are able to fight at the front and be somewhere close for the race win.”

Behind the official KRT riders, Roman Ramos (Team GOELEVEN Kawasaki) was 13th today and stand-in rider Matthieu Lagrive (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 15th. Gianluca Vizziello (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) went 17th but Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) no-scored after retiring.

Kiko Giles

Honda pair suffer in Germany after Promising First Day

Round 10 of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close for the Honda WorldSBK Team, with Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden finishing race two at the Lausitzring in eighth and tenth places, respectively. After being delayed a couple of times due to adverse weather conditions, the race got underway at 13:47 with a reduced race distance of 16 laps and was contested on a very slippery surface.

Michael van der Mark maintained his position at the start and, as the race reached its halfway point, he was sixth but under pressure from former teammate Sylvain Guintoli, who got past him two laps later. With three laps to go, the young Dutchman crashed out of seventh place at turn nine; despite substantial damage on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine, he bravely re-joined the race to claim an eighth place at the line.

Nicky Hayden had a very difficult start from the front row of the grid and by lap three he had dropped down to 18th place. Although he was unable to find a competitive rhythm, Hayden made his way back to 11th place, before he was forced to run straight on at turn six on lap 11, when Alex Lowes crashed in front of him. After returning to the track in 12th position, the experienced American rode his way to a tenth place finish.

The next round of the FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at Magny-Cours in France in a fortnight’s time.

Van Der Mark: I really wanted to finish

We had a nice dry warm up, in which we tried a couple of changes which gave us a bit more grip and I definitely felt better on the bike compared to yesterday. When it was time to race, race direction decided it was better to wait given the amount of rain that was falling. It was the right decision as there was basically no visibility at all. I got a good start to the race but the track was very slippery and I couldn’t lean as much as I wanted. After a couple of laps, I saw Giugliano crashing out of the race and I immediately thought about the championship situation, because the priority was to stay upright. Then, with three laps to go I simply locked the front and crashed. I really wanted to finish the race so I picked up the bike and rode two laps with barely any front brake. These are very important points for me, so all in all I’m not too disappointed.

Hayden: I will try to make up for it at Magny Cours

Warm up went very well, but obviously the conditions changed for the race and it ended up not being my best day. I didn’t have a good race at all and I apologise to the team. Yesterday I did a silly mistake very early during FP3 in the wet so I had no data from the session for these type of conditions. This really put us on the back foot, especially in the early laps. Eventually I started to feel better but on the main straight, when I caught Lowes, he ended up crashing in front of me and by instinct I released the brakes for a split second and ended up running off. Given how the track is, when I returned to the track I had lost almost 15 seconds and a couple of places. Still my performance in the wet was not good and I will try to make up for it in Magny-Cours.