Tom Sykes earned his first win of the 2013 season and came a hair short of a double victory at the World Superbike Championship round at Assen in the Netherlands.
Traditionally a fast starter and qualifier, Sykes started on the pole once again at Assen and had strong starts in both races. But unlike the first two rounds where he started strong before fading, the Kawasaki factory rider was able to remain at the front in both races at Assen and earn some valuable championship points.
Sykes took the lead right from the start of Race One ahead of Pata Honda‘s Jonathan Rea with a trio of RSV4 riders: Davide Giugliano of Althea Racing and the Aprilia factory duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty.
Pushing his Kawasaki ZX-10R, Sykes set a new lap record of 1:35.893 on his second lap. Sykes stretched his lead with every lap until he gained a nine-second advantage, before easing up the final few laps to win by 8.786 seconds.
Meanwhile, there was a three-way battle for second between Rea and the two Aprilia RSV4 riders. Laverty passed Rea for second on Lap 8 while his teammate followed a lap later. But Rea worked his way back up, first passing Laverty on Lap 15 and then Guintoli on Lap 19. Rea would hang on to finish second but only 0.006 seconds ahead of Guintoli.
In other notable news, both BMW Motorrad Goldbet riders had an unfortunate Race One. Chaz Davies, who swept both races at the previous round at Aragon, crashed during the warm-up and severely damaged his BMW S1000RR. He was forced to use his backup bike but had to start from the back of the grid. Despite the setback, Davies still managed a respectable seventh-place finish. His teammate Marco Melandri was less fortunate. Melandri’s S1000RR suffered a technical problem during the warm-up and was unable to even start the race.
The second race began with Sykes off to another strong start but this time he had Laverty right on his tail. The two remained within half a second of each other for the entire race with Rea staying up in front until Laverty made his move on Lap 19.
Sykes gathered himself for a final lap pass but fell short or Laverty by just 0.089 seconds. Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz outdueled Rea for the final podium position, beating the Honda rider by an even narrower 0.042-second margin.
Other notable results include FIXI Crescent Suzuki‘s Leon Camier finishing seventh after starting at the back of the grid. Meanwhile, Giugliano had a spectacular low-side crash that saw his RSV4 tumbling into the gravel leaving a trail of flames. The crash occurred on Lap 5 while Giugliano was fighting to hang to third place. Fortunately, the Althea rider escaped without serious injury.
The 2013 WSBK Championship continues May 12 at Italy’s Monza circuit. Guintoli maintains his spot on top of the standings with 111 points but he’s followed by Laverty, Davies and Sykes all tied with 83 points.
|2013 WSBK: Assen Race One Top Five Results|
|1||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||–|
|2||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+8.786|
|3||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+8.792|
|4||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+9.225|
|5||Loris Baz||Kawasaki ZX-10R||+14.231|
|2013 WSBK: Assen Race Two Top Five Results|
|1||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||–|
|2||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||+0.089|
|3||Loris Baz||Kawasaki ZX-10R||+5.848|
|4||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+5.890|
|5||Chaz Davies||BMW S1000RR||+7.359|
|2013 WSBK Championship Standings after 3 Rounds|
|1||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia Racing||111|
|2||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia Racing||83|
|3||Chaz Davies||BMW Motorrad Goldbet||83|
|4||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing||83|
|5||Jonathan Rea||PATA Honda||63|