Monday, September 2

SYKES TAKES SUPERBIKE LEAD

AFTER two red-flagged races, Kawasaki's Tom Skyes departed the Eiffel Mountains of Germany with a one point lead in the Eni Superbike World Championship over Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli.

After setting a record-breaking pace out front in the first race at the Nurburgring, Sykes was passed by BMW's Marco Melandri with two laps to go.  Just as he was working on a way to get back in front, the race was red-flagged.

Running at the back of the field, Team Pedercini Kawasaki rider Federico Sandi had the engine of his ZX-10R let go and trail oil onto the track at the entry to a fast left-hand corner.  Sandi pulled to the edge of the track as he slowed and left the track.  

Running right behind the leading trio of Melandri, Sykes and Chaz Davies (BMW), Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea was running a wide line in order to maintain corner speed.  His front tyre slid and tucked sideways on the oil, sending the Irishman hurtling off the track at very high speed into crash barriers. 

Just as he was trying to move, Leon Camier's Suzuki GSX-R1000 came hurtling through the gravel trap, clipped the barriers and went flying almost out of the circuit.  Camier followed his bike into the barriers and took a big impact.

The race was immediately red-flagged and under the rules of a red-flag finish, the race positions were declared from the order of the previous lap, which gave Sykes the race win.  It also meant he had closed the gap on Guintoli in the championship to just one point.

Rea and Camier were both flown by helicopter to the local hospital. Rea was diagnosed with a broken left femur, while Camier was sent for precautionary measure due to an injury on the top of his neck. As a result, neither took part in race two.

This time Melandri got his BMW into the lead from Sykes and kept it there while Davies was right on the Kawasaki's tail.  A little further back was Guintoli from Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty and Aprilia privateer Davide Giugliano.

The race quickly developed into a fierce battle for the win.  Laverty, who had crashed out of the first race, got his head down to pass team-mate Guintoli, then set off after the leading trio.  

With Davies nipping past Sykes under brakes, Laverty first had to deal with the Kawasaki.  Once he'd done that, Davies was next on the list. But then Davies passed BMW team-mate Melandri for the lead so it was the Italian Laverty had to challenge.  He did that, got through to second and set about dealing with Davies.

Melandri had other ideas about his place in the Superbike peaking order.  He fought back, not only getting by Laverty's Aprilia, but also re-taking the lead from Davies.

Davies was back in front a lap later, and two laps after that he had Laverty on his tail again after the Irishman passed Melandri.

Behind this duelling trio, Sykes was holding off Guintoli's Aprilia with Giugliano drifting back in sixth.  

Then, with a lap to go, wildcard Matej Smrz (Yamaha) crashed and landed on the track next to his YZF-R1.  With a motorcycle and a rider on the track, the officials once again flashed the red-flags.

This time the order was not affected:  Davies winning from Laverty and Melandri.

With Sykes coming home fourth to Guintoli's fifth, the Kawasaki man ended the day leading the championship with 287 points to Guintoli's 286.  Melandri and Laverty's efforts kept them in the running for the world title as well: Melandri 30 points back from Sykes and Laverty 40 points behind.

For Race One results, click here

For Race Two results, click here

Championship points here