There are straight-forward races, there are confusing races and then there are flag-to-flag races in mixed conditions. Teams that practiced pitstops will have looked at the skies and considered the time likely not wasted. As the riders lined up on slicks under a grey sky, even if Sykes struggled to get off the line for the warm up lap, they couldn’t know just how different this race would be.
Chaz Davies got the jump on Davide Giugliano and Eugene Laverty while Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes chased them down. On the second corner, however, Jules Cluzel turned into the corner only to find Carlos Checa in the way, tagging his handlebar and bringing him down. They both went out, with Cluzel rejoining while Checa’s race was over. Vittorio Iannuzzo and Lorenzo Savadori, replacing Alexander Lundh, also crashed out on the first lap as conditions, while dry, were far from ideal on cold tyres. On the second lap, Melandri passed Laverty for a third place that would very quickly became a second as Giugliano also crashed out.
Tom Sykes slotted in behind Eugene Laverty, but just couldn’t pass him, and, as he tried to set up another pass, he pulled off the track and, as he slowed, he throttled the bike up and it burst into flame while spewing fluids out of the left side, giving us the image of Sykes storming away from his weeping, burning bike.
Six laps in, as Chaz Davies was cradling a two and a half second lead, the white flags came out, signifying that it was raining in places. Chaz Davies kept increasing his lead, even as the pace dropped by two seconds a lap, ahead of Marco Melandri who was escaping the clutches of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli with Jonathan Rea and Loris Baz chasing them.
On the ninth lap of twenty five, rain decided to make a more noticeable entrance, dampening half the track. Half of the lap was slick tyres on a wet track while the other half was dry. Chaz Davies, who could see a slowing Jules Cluzel in front of him, primed for being lapped, had a six second lead. Michel Fabrizio and Leon Camier, further back, pitted in to get wet tyres in World Superbike’s first pitstop. Flag to flag racing finally met the single bike rule.
Thirteen laps in, the rain stopped briefly, but on the fourteenth, it came back. Davies still led the race from Melandri but Melandri started slowly reeling in his teammate. Shortly after Jules Cluzel was lapped, Eugene Laverty, after a long battle with Loris Baz, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea and a forthright Leon Haslam, made a mistake and destroyed his bike. Haslam followed him into the run off and limped away.
Sylvain Guintoli and Max Neukirchner both pitted in for tyres six laps from the end and, one lap later, everyone but Loris Baz was getting wet tyres. Baz was managing the lead on slicks until the rain decided to show him that nature was not to be trifled with and have a proper downpour. Chaz Davies had to give the lead to Marco Melandri, whose bike was much better in the wet. Jonathan Rea and Ayrton Badovini fought the last few laps, and, as Marco Melandri took the victory ahead of Chaz Davies, Badovini took the Ducati Panigale’s first podium in 3rd.
A confusing and exciting race, with Tom Sykes giving the title lead away to a very careful Sylvain Guintoli while Marco Melandri took third place in the championship from Eugene Laverty. Rain made for a war of attrition, with only eleven riders finishing.
|1||33||M. MELANDRI||BMW S1000 RR||1'35.624||314,2|
|2||19||C. DAVIES||BMW S1000 RR||7.441||1'35.299||306,1|
|3||86||A. BADOVINI||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||12.754||1'36.272||301,7|
|4||65||J. REA||Honda CBR1000RR||21.317||1'35.902||309,6|
|5||84||M. FABRIZIO||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||47.456||1'36.011||313,3|
|6||50||S. GUINTOLI||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1'00.999||1'35.890||311,4|
|7||27||M. NEUKIRCHNER||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||1'04.762||1'36.282||299,2|
|8||76||L. BAZ||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'04.947||1'35.783||308,7|
|9||2||L. CAMIER||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'09.140||1'36.127||305,2|
|10||16||J. CLUZEL||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1 Lap||1'37.058||303,4|
|11||23||F. SANDI||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1 Lap||1'37.888||290,2|
|RET||58||E. LAVERTY||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||10 Laps||1'35.727||314,2|
|RET||91||L. HASLAM||Honda CBR1000RR||10 Laps||1'36.268||307,8|
|RET||66||T. SYKES||Kawasaki ZX-10R||22 Laps||1'36.099||310,5|
|RET||34||D. GIUGLIANO||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||24 Laps||1'34.676||305,2|
|RET||25||L. SAVADORI||Kawasaki ZX-10R||25 Laps||1'39.504||289,4|
|RET||31||V. IANNUZZO||BMW S1000 RR||25 Laps||1'39.079||294,2|
|RET||7||C. CHECA||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||25 Laps||1'35.220||292,6|