2013 Silverstone World Superbike Sunday Roundup: Drama To Carry Us Through The Break
Silverstone is a fast, flat track with only one slow corner worth writing home about. The fact it’s at the top of a hill, like most airfield tracks, means that the weather can change fairly quickly and the size of the track means that each end can have its own weather. Couple this with the ripples and bumps caused by the formula one and other cars pushing the tarmac into the corners under braking and you have a unique track. What was forecast earlier in the week, a dry Sunday, was thrown away when bikes hit tarmac and the weather did its thing. We also learned the difference between waved white flags, there is rain somewhere on the track, and stationary white flags with a red cross from corner to corner, it's raining right here.
The single bike rule meant that the fear of flag to flag racing was at the back of everybody’s mind, but luckily for the riders, the rain only got treacherous by lap seventeen of race two, Leon Haslam’s crash summoning the red flags one lap before the race was due to finish. With no pitstops, it was left to World Supersport to provide us with something to argue about in the four-week break from racing. What at first looked like Kenan Sofuoglu wedging himself into a gap left by Sam Lowes on the last lap of the race then looked like Sofuoglu riding on the inside kerb to force his way under Lowes. Yakhnich Motorsport subsequently put in an appeal in against Kenan Sofuoglu for irregular riding, but it was not upheld by the stewards’ panel.
In World Superbikes, the championship lead held by the injured Sylvain Guintoli looked like it would be cut short, but the weather played into the Frenchman’s hands and instead his lead was extended. Sykes’s weakness in the rain is partially due to wanting to maintain his title challenge but luckily for Kawasaki it is matched by the skill of Loris Baz, who will be hoping his win will help him secure a ride for 2014, in mixed conditions. Sykes will look back on this weekend as damage limitation while Guintoli will be relieved not to have lost the lead while heading into a four week break that will allow his shoulder to heal and two fastest laps in mixed conditions should serve to remind us why he’s leading the championship.
Eugene Laverty’s second place in race one and third place in race two pushed him past Marco Melandri to third in the championship with a spread from first to third of just thirty-six points. Having bagged his first Tissot, Laverty must consider himself in with a shout at the title, if he can tie down the consistency he’s lacked thus far. With five DNFs to Melandri’s three, consistency is all he needs to beat his former teammate, and with Guintoli only suffering one DNF to Sykes’s three, in spite of only one win to Sykes’s five, he has a clear example across the garage of what consistency can do.
Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies are both job hunting now that BMW has announced it’s pulling out of World Superbike. While this weekend wasn’t a decent showcase of Melandri’s talent, Davies was running at the front of the field before his engine gave out. Unfortunately for Davies, Loris Baz has just equalled him on points, sharing fifth place ahead of Jonathan Rea’s seventh. It’s clear, though, that Davies has overcome the wet weather defect he was suffering after many years competing in the US. Last year was a baptism of wet weather riding and Davies is no longer a stranger to wet tracks.
Jonathan Rea’s victory on a visibly slower bike led to Carl Fogarty anointing him the most talented rider in World Superbike, although with his seeking a ride in MotoGP, he could end up losing that plaudit for 2014. The replacement for the Fireblade that was rumoured for next year is now being rumoured for 2015, which would encourage anyone to seek other options as the current bike isn’t particularly quick.
Fixi Crescent Suzuki had their best weekend to date, with Leon Camier fast throughout qualifying and getting a third place in race one, and Jules Cluzel getting a second in race two, their fortunes have changed for the better. As the qualifying record is still held by John Hopkins on his BSB-spec GSXR, it could be that the bike just goes well at Silverstone, but the next race in Germany will clarify that.
Once again, Ducati had a miserable weekend, in spite of Carlos Checa’s second place qualifying in Saturday’s odd conditions. Ayrton Badovini yet again outscored the number one rider Checa.
Attendance was under 28,000 for the weekend, just under Donington’s figures. Silverstone’s fast corners and unique character gave us three good races, with overtakes for the lead aplenty; if only there were more people there to see it.