Marco Melandri rebounded from last week’s disappointing Portimao round to win Race One at Laguna Seca while Tom Sykes extended his championship lead with a win in a red-flagged Race Two.
Melandri got taken out of the second Portimao race after his Aprilia teammate Sylvain Guintoli slid into his RSV4. Melandri looked eager to make up for that DNF, leading every lap of Race One on his way to his third win of the season.
The second race was red-flagged after nine laps when Suzuki‘s Alex Lowes crashed at Laguna Seca’s famous Corkscrew. The race was started as a seven-lap sprint with Sykes taking win #8 on the year.
Sykes got off to one of his typical quick starts, taking the holeshot from pole position on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. An error on the Corkscrew drew Sykes wide, however, opening the way through for Melandri and Guintoli. Sykes managed to regain his composure to finish the opening lap in third ahead of Ducati’s Chaz Davies.
Davies’ weekend ended on the second lap however, when he high-sided on Turn 6, receiving a hard blow to his head. Davies was examined at the medical center where the staff ruled it was too dangerous for him to take part in Race Two.
The crash left a large gap behind the first three riders, with Melandri holding a slim advantage over Guintoli. Sykes bided his time, perhaps looking for a repeat of Portimao. Guintoli stayed close to his teammate for several laps before Melandri started to find some separation on Lap 15.
Guintoli made it close again on the final lap, shaving a second and a half from Melandri’s lead but had to settle for second.
|2014 WSBK Laguna Seca Race One Top Five Results|
|1||Marco Melandri||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||–|
|2||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+0.905|
|3||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||+6.627|
|4||Davide Giugliano||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+13.574|
|5||Toni Elias||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+13.855|
In a repeat of the first race, Sykes grabbed the holeshot for the early lead, but this time he was able to hold onto the lead, completing the first lap ahead of Guintoli with Melandri in third.
The three lead riders were once again running a faster pace than the rest of the field. Sykes remained in front while Melandri passed his teammate for second on Lap 5.
The race was halted on Lap 11 when Lowes crashed trying to pass Kawasaki’s Loris Baz. Lowes went crashing into the gravel but was fortunately not seriously hurt.
After a delay, the race was restarted as short seven-lap sprint. Riders lined up in the order from the previous completed lap, which meant Sykes started at the front with Melandri and Guintoli, but their advantage over the field was mostly nullified.
The red flags quickly came out again however after BMW Motorrad Italia‘s Sylvain Barrier crashed on the start/finish straight. Barrier was examined at the medical center where he was diagnosed with a dislocated and broken foot.
When the race was restarted for the second time, it was Melandri taking the opening lap over Sykes and Guintoli. Melandri’s lead was short-lived however as he slid on the second lap, handing the lead back to Sykes. The Kawasaki rider took advantage, holding on the rest of the race for the win, with Guinoli second and Honda‘s Jonathan Rea in third.
|2014 WSBK Laguna Seca Race Two Top Five Results|
|1||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||–|
|2||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+1.014|
|3||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+2.793|
|4||Eugene Laverty||Suzuki GSX-R1000||>+3.681|
|5||Toni Elias||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+4.165|
After Nine Rounds
With a pair of podium finishes, Sykes increased his lead by a single point to 44 ahead of Guintoli. A Race Two podium pushed Rea into third overall ahead of Baz. Melandri rounds out the top five, with his Race Two crash all-but negating his Race One victory and putting him well behind the rest of the championship leaders.
The 2014 WSBK Championship now heads into the mid-season break. The season picks up Sept. 7 at Spain’s Jerez circuit.
|2014 WSBK Top Five Standings after Nine Rounds|
|3||Jonathan Rea||Pata Honda||261|
[Source: WSBK; Photos by Kawasaki, Aprilia and Pirelli]