WSBK

WSBK Race Two – Misano joy for Melandri

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After a difficult Sunday, the Ducati WSBK team bounced back in Race 2 at Misano with a masterful win by Marco Melandri.

The Italian rider, who crashed out of Race One during the last lap while fighting for the win, mounted a spectacular comeback from 10th position on the grid to take his maiden victory with the Panigale R and his 20th overall in WSBK.

Melandri said: “This win means so much to me. It’s my first with Ducati and first on Italian soil but also the 100th by an Italian rider in WSBK. It’s the result of a lot of efforts, a composed attitude during some difficult moments, and great teamwork. We never stopped to believe in ourselves, and this result is a payback for all the sacrifices.

“We made a small change to our setup this morning, and before the start I was sure I could have a go at it. During the race, I tried to manage my pace and, once I took the lead, to ride smoothly. I hope Chaz recovers soon, he had a nasty crash but fortunately without serious injuries. I hope to be able to fight for another win, this time with him on track as well, at Laguna Seca.”

Team-mate Chaz Davies endured a miserable time on Italian soil. Declared unfit for Race 2 due to a fracture of the transverse process of L3 (3rd lumbar vertebra) and a contusion of the left thumb caused by a crash in Race 1, Chaz Davies watched the race from the pits after being discharged from the hospital.

The Welshman will now observe a period of rest with the intention to be back on track for the eighth round of the season, scheduled for July 7-9 at Laguna Seca.

WSBK – ‘Lucky’ Sykes wins incident packed Race One at Misano

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After taking his first race win of the season at Donington Park in the previous round, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was gifted another win at Misano, despite starting the final lap in fourth position.

The drama saw championship leader Jonathan Rea fall after colliding with the last-lap race leader Chaz Davies, just before Rea was set to make a final move to try re-take the lead he had held on two separate occasions in a dramatic 21-lap race. it was a nasty coming together – Rea had nowhere to go and rode over the prone Daveis, with the Ducati rider’s speed hump and helmet bearing the full weight of the Kawasaki

In a race full of incident and close competition Rea took the lap one lead, only to be passed by Michael van der Mark who was in a leading position for the next 13 laps. Rea had to take avoiding action and lost time to the riders behind after van der Mark suddenly fell, but Rea still re-took the lead, until lap 19, when Davies passed him.

Sykes’ race had seen him drop back from his pole position start to spend most of the race in fifth position; then fourth after van der Mark’s crash. When the then third-placed Marco Melandri fell on the last lap Tom moved into a podium position, which suddenly became a winning position after the collision of Davies and Rea.

Sykes said: “In racing it is all circumstances. In the end the circumstances meant we were able to win today and finally for this I am happy. We will take the 25 points. In racing you have to accept things like this and I only hope that Chaz is OK after I saw some footage of his crash on the slow-down lap. It looked a nasty incident so I hope Chaz is going to be OK and will be fit to race tomorrow. In this moment we will take the 25 points and get them under my own steam tomorrow.”

Alex Lowes took second, passing Rea, who managed to remount and cross the line for a podium place – his 100th career podium.

Rea said: “The plan was to just release the brake and go up the inside of Chaz on the last corner, but unfortunately for both of us it did not get that far. Especially for Chaz. He made a mistake and tucked the front and I am super-sorry that I hit him but I had absolutely nowhere to go. I hope he is OK. I can’t remember ever being on the podium in a race I have fallen in, maybe in a wet race but probably not, to be honest. In van der Mark’s crash earlier in the race I had to go off track. I was so close to almost hitting him and then his bike almost hit me. It was certainly eventful. It was a shame for me and Chaz as we were fighting for the victory.”

WSBK – Rea ends Sykes stranglehold with historic Race Two win at Donington

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In a contest where only 14 riders finished the race, Jonathan Rea put in stellar performance to win his eighth race of the year and Kawasaki’s 100th in Superbike history.

Despite having to start from the fourth row of the grid because of his huge high speed crash in Race One,
Rea made a superb launch and was able to scythe his way through the field – such was Rea’s early pace that he went from tenth on the grid to second after just one complete lap, eventually taking the lead at Redgate on Lap Rea.

It was a commanding ride, and while many riders fell, Rea kept his cool, managing the gap to the chasing pack.

It was team-mate Tom Sykes who pushed Rea hardest. Sykes was in fifth place in lap one and eventually got to second place on lap seven. He managed to close the gap with some hard charging, but with the laps counting down Rea had enough of an advantage to hold the lead and win his 46th race since he joined the WSBK series.

The win secured put Kawasaki’s place the history books as only the third manufacturer to reach the landmark figure of 100 race victories. It was an impressive feat made even more remarkable considering his scary crash in yesterday’s race, and another heavy spill during this morning’s practice

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had an incredible first lap today. I had been really frustrated because I got penalised by no fault of my own yesterday in scoring no points and then penalised again with my grid position today, when I went back to tenth. I knew I had to make a good start straight away otherwise my race was over. I was really quiet today and after warm-up I was really nervous. I was going through all these scenarios in my head about what I would do with a good start, or a bad start, and then what my race plan would be. My guys worked really hard overnight to build a completely brand new bike because yesterday’s was destroyed. The first time I rode it this morning, with some set-up changes from Pere. The bike was talking to me in a way I have not had this year. So I knew today was mine if I could get a good start.

“There was a little bit of pressure for the 100th Kawasaki win and I was thinking about it today. From half race distance I said to myself that it has to be me today. We managed the race perfectly and I even managed a nice little stand-up wheelie at the end!”

WSBK – Sykes continues Donington domination with Race One win

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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.”

WSBK – Hayden in ‘serious’ condition after training crash

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Nicky Hayden remains in a very serious condition in hospital after a bicycle accident while training in Italy.

The 2006 MotoGP world champion was reportedly hit by a car between Tavoleto and Riccione, south of the seaside resort of Rimini and rushed to a local hospital with severe head and chest injuries. However, the severity of his injuries led to the medical team deciding to fly him to the Bufalini hospital in nearby Cesena, one better equipped to cater to serious head injuries.

Hospital staff describe Hayden’s condition as ‘very serious’ and he has now been moved to intensive care.

Hayden was in the region training following last weekend’s fifth round of the WSBK series at nearby Imola.

The Kentucky Kid raced for the factory Honda and Honda  MotoGP teams before switching to WSBK in 2016, finishing the season in place.

 

 

 

 

 

WSBK – Davies does the double at Imola

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After winning Race 1 in a dominant fashion, Chaz Davies did the double at Imola (Italy), giving the factory Ducati squad its fourth WSBK success in a row at its home race.

The Welshman, who took pole position on Saturday, had to work his way up the field from ninth position today, based on the new 2017 grid regulations for Race 2, and got off the blocks quickly at the re-start – the red flags interrupted the race after only two laps.

Davies then progressively climbed his way up the ranks, closing the gap from provisional leader Sykes on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.

The Welshman then took the lead on lap 8, and eventually pulled away to win with a four-second advantage on his rivals.

Davies said: “What a weekend! For the first time this year I feel we’ve been the benchmark from the beginning. We were able to find our rhythm on Friday, and it sort of snowballed from there.

“The team has done an awesome job, the bike worked superbly in both races, in different conditions, but today it was quite interesting. We got mixed up at the first start, but after the re-start we got a good launch and I was able to make some good moves that put us in a good position. Sykes’ pace was strong, so I had to put my head down to hunt him and, once I caught him, I was able to set my own pace and that was good enough. Thanks to all the Italian fans for showing up this weekend, their push was something special.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director, said: “Once again, Imola coincided with a really emotional weekend. Chaz rode two flawless races, and we dedicate the wins to all the Ducatisti who flooded the circuit and showed their passion, and also to all the boys at home who allowed Chaz and the team to finalise the job. To win at Imola is incredible.”

WSBK – Ducati dominates Race One at Imola

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The factory Ducati team enjoyed a day to remember in front of its fans at Imola as Chaz Davies once again proved to be the man to beat at the Italian track.

The Welshman, who secured pole position in the morning while showing an unmatched pace, never looked back after the start and finished with a seven-second advantage over his rivals when, with six laps to go, the race was red-flagged after Eugene Laverty’s big crash.

The race was declared, and with the results based on the positions from the previous lap, Ducati had two riders on the podium with team-mate Melandri enjoying his first WSBK podium at Imola .

Race winner Chaz Davies said: “It’s been a perfect weekend so far. I think this track really suits me and the Panigale R. We’ve made good steps forward under acceleration this year, and it was a big help here with the tight chicanes. Also, this layout helps me to take advantage of the strong points of my riding style. I kept controlling the gap from Rea, looking after the tyres, and the bike felt really consistent. It was a lonely race, but not an easy one.

“Tomorrow’s going to be different, starting from the back. We need to keep it clean and be patient. We can still improve something on the electronics side, but clearly we won’t make any big changes. Thanks to all the ducatisti for their amazing support today!”

Team-mate Marco Melandri said: “To step on the podium in front of the home crowd is amazing, but it wasn’t easy out there today. From this morning, we had some issues. I still didn’t feel at 100 percent under braking, and under acceleration I had to shut the throttle often while upshifting, without being able to fully take advantage of our power.

“Nonetheless, Chaz was really fast, especially in the third sector, and while trying not to lose contact with him I made some mistakes. After a few laps, with less fuel in the tank and a lighter bike, we improved. I was ready to fight against Sykes and in general I expected to battle against the two Kawasakis, but we didn’t take advantage of our full potential and I want to do better tomorrow.”

WSBK – Laverty escapes injury in huge Race One off at Imola

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Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty emerged unscathed from a dramatic, and fast, racing incident during Race One at Imola.

Saturday’s Superpole sessions were promising for the Milwaukee Aprilia rider, with Laverty qualifying an encouraging P6 after going straight to Superpole 2 from Free Practice.

Laverty made a good getaway and quickly took fifth place, and although he couldn’t manage the pace of the top four he ran well in the middle of the field, enjoying battles with the Ducati of Fores and the MV Agusta of Camier.

As his pace dropped Laverty fell into the clutches of the Yamahas of Van der Mark and Lowes, defending well against both until a late move from Lowes resulted in a contact of the bikes.

Laverty’s bike suffered a broken front brake line and he was unable to slow as he approached Turn 17 – he managed to jump from his bike at high speed and avoided a collision with the wall, while his bike burst into flames on impact.

Laverty said: “I was optimistic at the start because the bike was feeling good, but I started losing pace after about 7 lap and I was moving backwards. I tried hanging in, and just before the crash happened the bike started to feel good again.

“We didn’t have much rear grip today. It was good at the start and then went away, but then it came back in the middle of the race which was strange. That’s something we need to look closely at, at times I felt I could really push but it was disappointing to see other guys coming past.

“I’m OK after the crash and I thought it would hurt me more, but my gear did its job and I’m ready to get on the bike again tomorrow. It’s hard to know how tomorrow will go, obviously there are positives to take from today but we have to analyse where we’re struggling.”

Laverty visited the Medical Centre for precautionary checks but has been deemed fit to race on Sunday.

WSBK – Davies urges Rea to ‘cut the crap’ and let the racing do the talking

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The war of words from Assen’s fallout between Johnny Rea and Chaz Davies continues with the Ducati rider telling Rea to ‘cut the crap’.

Davies has issued a lengthy statement, apologising for his tirade against the reigning world champion in Parc Ferme, but also calling for the Kawasaki rider to stop playing games and to focus solely on riding.

Davies said: “Now that the dust has settled on the Assen WSBK weekend I’d like to bring into context the events that unfolded during the Superpole session on Saturday afternoon. I don’t feel like all the facts were obvious at the time so I think it’s necessary to provide the full picture.

“Firstly, I hold my hands up and apologise for my choice of language. I’m sorry it came across on live TV and to whoever it may have offended. While I’m sorry for my choice of language, I’m not sorry for addressing the issue in the way I did. I don’t need to detail that this sport is dangerous and there isn’t much more dangerous than a rider touring on the racing line. Add a touring rider into the path of other riders during the last lap of Superpole and it’s another level of #Sh*tsAboutToGetReal.

“Towards the end of Superpole 2, rider #65 set an incredible marker with his first lap on the new Pirelli qualifying tyres. These tyres aren’t exactly qualifying tyres, they’re called a pre-qualifying tyre and according to Pirelli should be “good for around three fast laps” rather than the typical single flying lap you’d usually see from a true qualifier. #65 rolled off the gas immediately after his first flying lap. That’s pretty normal when you know you’ve got everything out of your package, which, judging by his lap time, he seemingly did.

“I completed my first flying lap. The lap went OK, but I didn’t feel like I perfected it and I assumed it was probably not good enough for the front row of the grid. So, I pushed on for another bite at the cherry with a second lap. I crossed the line at the end of my first flying lap, 19 seconds after #65 completed his lap. 19 seconds is quite a large gap. For example, a full lap of cruising is, on average, about 15 seconds slower than an on-pace lap.

“So, for me to catch up the full 19 seconds in less than half a lap, is quite exceptional. Add to that the fact that #65’s slowest ‘pit in’ lap of the entire weekend was 18 seconds slower than a full on-pace lap (1’54 vs 1’36), yet at the end of Superpole 2 somehow he managed to lose 19 seconds in the opening 40 seconds of a full 96 second lap.

“In Moto3, the percentage determined to be “cruising” is 10%. Applying Moto3 rules, losing just 4 seconds would have been enough for #65 to incur a grid penalty. I wonder what penalty would have been handed down for 19 seconds?

“My second lap was underway and at the second intermediate split I was 0.051 (51 thousandths of a second) outside of my previous lap, a gap that I would definitely call ‘in touch’ to improve my own lap time. I saw #65 as I exited turn 5 onto the back straight, he took a long look over his shoulder through turn 6 and with that I expected him to move well aside on what is a seriously fast part of the circuit.

“As I threw my bike into into turn 7, #65 was mid corner, just wide of the ideal racing line. I’m talking a bikes width but no more, definitely far from off line. In that situation you don’t know what the rider ahead is thinking or which way he’s going as he hasn’t clearly shown which part of the track he’s heading for. He stayed on that line which then on corner exit turns into what is exactly the ideal line, where the natural line is to drift out to 3/4 track width before bringing it back to setup the entry for turn 8.

“I had already backed out of committing to turn 7 at the very last split second on corner entry as I could see what was about to unfold. That foresight and slight lack of commitment at the speed I was carrying gave me the time I needed to be able to pick the bike up on the early part of corner exit and give enough room to avoid what could have been a massive accident. #65 again looked behind, the opposite side to where I was and I felt the need to wake him up to the severity of what just happened. I hit him on the arm as I passed and hurtled some gestures his way.

“Fast forward a couple of minutes into Parc Ferme and once I saw #65 I made the Italian gesture of a pinched together thumb and fingers, translated as “what the hell were you thinking?”.

“I expected a different reaction to what came. #65 went straight on the defensive saying he hadn’t seen me, claiming he was off line anyway, why was I on the outside of him, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near him. It was a good attempt at turning the situation around to put the blame on me.

“There was everything but a simple apology, which, had it have arrived straight away, would had instantly diffused the situation. At that point I tried to put across the severity of the situation, but his arrogance was off the scale. I threw the regrettable profanities at him and finally, after heated exchanges, he begrudgingly offered his hand as an apology.

“As far as I was concerned it was too late and I didn’t feel like it was genuine, so I declined. He was happy to tell the media that is was good to see me frustrated. If you get your kicks from putting other riders’ lives in danger, good for you. My reaction was genuinely not informed by any kind of frustration other than at what I perceived as dirty riding.

“Race Direction took the matter into their own hands (without any intervention from me or my team) and decided that a three-place grid penalty was sufficient. Quite honestly, I’d have preferred to see an immediate admission of fault over the penalty that was handed down.

“After the incident, another rider who was on his ‘in lap’ and saw everything unfold confirmed exactly my thoughts that #65 was looking over his shoulder with intent from early in his in lap.

“At turn 5 it’s very easy to glance across the circuit to all the way through turns 2, 3 and 4 to see which riders are coming. #65 stayed well off the gas, taking another look over his shoulder during turn 6 (seconds before the incident) which unfortunately wasn’t broadcast on the replay, but is shown on the full Superpole 2 session video on the WSBK website (20min 52secs into the full Superpole 2 session video).

“I saw this look behind on track and then again on the full video clip when I was called to Race Direction – it was clear for all of us to see. #65 knew I was coming and endangered both of us with his underhand games.

“Of course, he will deny this, but the facts, video and Race Direction penalty prove otherwise. #65 knew I would abort my lap, but, if I had have committed to turn 7, there’s a strong chance neither of us would have made the grid. I’d expect fairer play from a novice, let alone a double world champion.

“Mistakes do happen. I’ve unintentionally held up others before and have always held my hands up to those kind of mistakes. However, with the facts that were in front of me, I’m absolutely certain there were no coincidences on this occasion. On track it’s usually clear what is or isn’t intentional – I had the same situation last year with my team mate Davide Giugliano in Thailand. However, then I recognised it as an honest mistake and he was quick to admit fault. A number of riders messaged me on Saturday to say they have, at various points in the past, had the same issues – if #65 sees you as a threat he’s willing to play those cards.

“So, I have this message for #65 – you’re a good enough rider without these games, so cut the crap and lets continue to put on the show that is entertaining fans of WSBK, mano a mano. I enjoy the battles, the intense rivalry and hugely respect your ability/achievements, but I strongly believe on this occasion you just took it way too far. Let’s get back to old fashioned hard and fair racing at Imola.”

WSBK – Rea wins photo finish Race Two at Assen

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea celebrated his 200th series start in style after crossing the line by the narrowest of margins at Assen – just 0.025 seconds separated the Ulsterman and team-mate Tom Sykes as the reigning champions secured another double Dutch success.

Rea made a strong start, cutting through the field from ninth on the grid and taking the lead early on. However, the strong winds caused him to run wide, brining him back into the clutches of his team-mate Sykes.

Sykes continued to push hard, shadowing Rea, though never looking capable of passing him. However, he got superb drive through the final chicane, catching Rea and almost passing him on the drag to the line.

The win was Rea’s 11th at Assen since he started his WSBK career and his third double at this 4.542km circuit since he joined Kawasaki in 2015.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been an incredible weekend of racing. I have been especially happy with Superpole yesterday because the lap I made then was maybe the best lap I have ever made on a bike. I am really proud of that. Of course the race wins were really nice to take away. Today was a race of two halves. In the first half I raced hard until I got a warning so in the second half I just managed things to try and be safe and bring her home. I had a little bit left at the end but the biggest problem was the wind today. I was pulling a gap but then I had a huge front slide in T11, and my foot came off the peg, at mid-race distance. I decided just to ride and save something for the last laps after that. I had a big wobble coming out of 11 again near the end and I then just tried to be clever in the last lap and cover the last corner. My line was probably not the fastest way around there but it covered any move up the inside and I made it to the line first.”

It was an important day of statistics for Rea, as he also secured his 45th WSBK career win and his 30th individual race win for Kawasaki.

In the championship Rea now leads by 64 points, from his team-mate Sykes, with Chaz Davies third on 111 points and second race faller Marco Melandri on 97.

The next races in the series will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May, at the Imola circuit in Italy.