Superbikes - Imola WSBK: Sykes storms to race one victory

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes dominated the opening World Superbike race at Imola this afternoon, and pulverised the rest of the competition to take the win by seven seconds from second place, Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano, and Aprilia's Eugene Laverty.

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Superbikes - Imola WSBK: Sykes storms to race one victory
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Imola WSBK: Sykes storms to race one victory

Sykes even broke his own lap record that he set back last year with a phenomenal 1’47.274 lap, knocking three tenths of a second off the time from 2012.

The Huddersfield rider had a did not lead from the start, Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea had that pleasure, and the Isle of Man resident had a spectacular start to lap one, followed by local rider Giugliano. But the Honda rider did not have the best of races. His first mistake happened on the first lap where he went wide at Variante Tamburello while in the lead, and found himself back in eleventh.

Rea then worked his way up the grid, overtaking fellow Brits GoldBet BMW’s Chaz Davies and Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier and on lap eighteen got the better Davies’ team-mate Marco Melandri at the Variante Bassa to go to fourth. But with two laps remaining the Northern Irishman tried to over take Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty to go to third but another mistake at Rivazza 2 meant Rea found himself in the gravel, but even though he managed to restart the bike, he ended up making his way to the pits on the penultimate lap.

After Rea’s crash, Giugliano took the lead, but Sykes was never too far behind and on lap six the Kawasaki was at the front, and the Italian was never able to retake the lead as the Englishman continued to charge ahead, until he crossed the finishing line, giving his team their first win at the circuit.

Laverty did manage to close the gap on second place finisher Giugliano, but he could not catch up with the Aprilia and finished the race two seconds behind, to take the final step on the podium. Team-mate and championship leader Sylvain Guintoli was as high as third in the early stages of the race, but a technical issue on lap seven ended his race, and even though he did attempt to come out again the problem could not be rectified and he retired. With Sykes' win the Frenchman only has a three point lead at the top of the championship table.

Elsewhere there was the battle of the Brits in the mid-pack, between the two tallest riders out on track, Camier and Davies. The Kent rider was out pacing Davies, but the Welshman finally found some speed to overtake Camier to finish the race in sixth. But both riders were not able to fend off the charges of Red Devils Roma rider Michel Fabrizio who overtook both riders to finish the race in fifth, one second behind fellow Italian, local hero, Marco Melandri.

But there was another battle out on the Italian circuit, and that was between injured riders, Kawasaki’s Loris Baz and Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam. The battle for ninth place continued to change between the crocked racers, but it was the Frenchman who clinched ninth, with the Smalley rider rounding off the top ten.

Rea was not the only rider to crash out, Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel fell in exactly the same spot, Rivazza 2, ending the Frenchman’s race ambitions on lap fifteen.

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