On a dry track surface at Donington Park Tom Sykes won his first WSBK race of the season in dominant style, crushing the field by crossing the line a clear 16.5 seconds ahead of second place man Leon Haslam.
The victory sees Sykes score his ninth successive win at Donington Park – the 32nd of his career – and means he closes the points gap on his team-mate and championship leader Jonathan Rea to 50 after after a problem with his rear tyre caused Rea crash spectacularly at Craner Curves, without injury.
In the morning, before the start of the first race, Superpole was won by Sykes – the 39th of his career and the first this season, setting a new track best of 1’26.641 in the process.
At the beginning of the opening 23-lap contest, it was Ducati’s Chaz Davies took the lead, from Sykes and Rea, then after one lap of the 4.023km track Rea slotted into second place, and then the lead, after Davies crashed out on lap seven.
Having been down in fourth place for a short period, after trying to pass Rea for second but running wide, Sykes found himself behind eventual podium finisher Leon Haslam, racing as a wildcard at his ‘home’ circuit on the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing machine.
Sykes steadily worked his way into the lead at his favourite circuit and eventually had a clear run to victory, while Rea began experiencing some vibration issues late in the race which forced him to slow his pace. However with three laps to go his tyre deflated, causing the rear to come around as he tapped on the gas through Craner Curves.
Haslam, a wildcard rider for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team and riding with the blessing of his JG Speedfit Kawasaki British Superbike team, took his second place after Rea’s misfortune, but was already in line for a podium finish close to the end of the race after making a strong start.
The final rung on the podium was gifted Alex Lowes on the Yamaha after Ducati’s Marco Melandri, after he inexplicably ran on to the grass on the approach to the final corner.
Tom Sykes, stated: “That was a fantastic race and I enjoyed it. It turned out to be very difficult and not necessarily what I had in the plan but that is part of racing. We had a good start but during the attempted pass on Chaz I had a full fuel load and was just a little bit on the limit, I ran wide and did again on Jonathan. I lost a lot of time there but today’s experience has been a blessing in disguise really, because I now have a better understanding of the race bike set-up while riding with the others. All weekend I have been fairly much alone on track and doing my own thing and had some great results. But today being behind other riders was hampering the lap time. Overall to win here and continue my form at Donington is fantastic. ”
Jonathan Rea, stated: “About a lap before Tom passed me I started to get a lot of vibration entering the corner off the gas. I had a lot of chatter from the front and the rear. When Tom passed me it started to get worse and worse. All I was thinking about was to finish the race and get some points. In hindsight I should have pulled over because I would have saved my bike because it was completely destroyed. The team will have to build me a new bike for tomorrow so that is frustrating for the mechanics as well. I am really disappointed, to be honest.”