World SBK: Kawasaki wins with Sykes closing the gap



Laguna Seca saw two great World SBK races with Kawasaki taking both but the story goes so much deeper. Race reviews with photos by Jim Fonseca

WorldSBK race one..KRT duo battle at the front as Kentucky Kid Hayden withstands the pressure for third

Jonathan Rea has taken his first ever victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, beating teammate Tom Sykes into second with Nicky Hayden coming through under pressure to take third..

Tom Sykes took the lead from pole, with the Yorkshireman leading Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who got a superb start from the second row to end lap one in second, ahead of Sykes’ KRT teammate Jonathan Rea. With the front three setting  the pace and the second bike of Davide Giugliano leading Honda’s home hero Nicky Hayden in the chase, Davies took the lead with 21 to go with last year’s double winner looking to make it three in a row, before the Welshman pushed too hard on the front and slid off into the gravel at turn six, out of contention.


With Rea and Sykes closer to Giugliano after Davies’ crash, reigning champion Rea recovered from going slightly deep into the Corkscrew and began to put the hammer down. Rea, who has never won at Laguna Seca and was only 0.055 off the Superpole-winning time set by teammate Sykes, showed great pace all weekend at the Californian track and began to pull away from Sykes, until a second mistake at the Corkscrew saw the Northern Irishman lose the lead and forced to do the work again. Rea eventually crossed the line over a second clear to take his first victory at the US track, with Sykes in second and Hayden third.

Kentucky Kid, MotoGP Legend and Honda World Superbike Team rider Hayden had warned against expecting miracles at his home venue, aware of the competition around him, but put in a superlative ride under pressure at home to come home in third, adding another podium to his impressive rookie tally.


Hayden’s teammate, 2014 WorldSSP champion Michael van der Mark, moved up from 11th on the grid to hunt down the frontrunners and cross the line fourth after taking IodaRacing’s Lorenzo Savadori and Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes in the latter stages of the race. Lowes crossed the line in fifth and Savadori, who had never ridden at Laguna Seca, put in an impressive rookie ride to come home in the top six, ahead of Barni Racing’s Xavi Forés and Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres. Alex De Angelis on the second Aprilia and Niccolo Canepa on the second Pata Yamaha completed the top ten.

Leon Camier moved up one place from his starting position after an interrupted Friday to come home 11th, ahead of Pedercini’s Anthony West and the Milwaukee BMW pairing of Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham. Roman Ramos completed the top 15 for Go ELEVEN.


Race one results – 1.  Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki   2.  Tom Sykes – Kawasaki    3.   Nicky Hayden – Honda

WorldSBK race two:  Rea out, dueling Ducatis and last corner drama

Tom Sykes has taken victory in race two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, heading the Ducati duo of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies over the line in a race that would have been impossible to script.

With a slight wheelie off the line from Jonathan Rea alongside, KRT rider Tom Sykes kept the lead from pole as Davide Giugliano benefitted from third and slotted in behind the Yorkshireman; Chaz Davies and Nicky Hayden the closest challengers behind.


The first few laps of the race saw Michael van der Mark a high profile casualty, with the impressive Dutchman running on and losing control of his Honda before rejoining down the field. Leon Camier then shortly suffered a technical problem that saw the MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider forced to retire, followed by IodaRacing rider Alex De Angelis.


Giugliano took the lead on lap three, with the two Ducatis sandwiching the KRT pairing of Sykes and Rea, before a fall for Pawel Szkopek brought out the red flag. With the restarted race set for 21 laps, the quick restart procedure soon saw bikes back on track, with Giugliano on pole for the restart from Sykes and Rea, with van der Mark able to restart, but from the final row.

The Italian lost the lead off the line to Sykes, before standing the Yorkshireman up and taking it back, with Hayden able to take Rea and move himself up into third. The reigning champion fought back however, and set off to hunt down the leading duo. Lorenzo Savadori was a high profile casualty soon after, as the impressive Italian rookie lost his Aprilia and crashed out on lap three.


An incredible tussle down the Corkscrew then saw the Kawasaki duo attack Giugliano and fight it out, before a lap later Jonathan Rea went wide at turn six and ran on – out of the frontrunning battle – as he then stopped on track with a technical problem.

The lead trio of Sykes, Giugliano and Davies ahead and away, a six bike train of Hayden, Forés, Lowes, Torres, van der Mark and Canepa battled over fourth, with positions swapping and the Corkscrew hosting another classic moment as Forés took the inside line after running a little deep, and Hayden refused to be overtaken.


An three-way fight for the win ensued with the two Ducatis fighting it out in a modern classic behind Sykes as the laps ticked down, with the Yorkshireman standing firm in the face of incredible pressure from the two red machines behind. As the three crossed the line almost together after the incredible fight, last corner drama ensued for those behind, with Alex Lowes trying to take teammate Niccolo Canepa and sending both off – with Canepa able to at least see the line quickly.

Forés came home fourth for Barni Racing, ahead of home hero Nicky Hayden in fifth, with Torres on the Althea BMW in sixth. Michael van der Mark staged an incredible comeback to cross the line seventh, ahead of Pata Yamaha’s Niccolo Canepa as the Italian managed to shoot over the line after the interruption. Anthony West was ninth for Pedercini, ahead of Roman Ramos who completed the top ten for GO EVELEN.


Raffaele De Rosa ended his WorldSBK debut in 11th, ahead of Karel Abraham for Milwaukee BMW, Grillini’s Dominic Schmitter and a re-mounted Alex Lowes in 14th. Saeed Al Sulaiti took home his first point in 15th.

WorldSBK now heads into the summer break, before the grid get back on track at Lausitzring in September for the final four-Round showdown of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.

Race two results

  1. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki    2.   Davide Guigliano  – Ducati     3.  Chaz Davies – Ducati


Championship standings after round nine