Continuing intermittent light rain showers over the course of the day at the Silverstone circuit in the U.K. caused major shakeups in the latter half of each World Superbike Championship race’s finishing order as riders fought to maintain their finishing spot while also maintaining control in the changing conditions. Both races started out dry with threatening skies, but with light rain falling just past the midway point in each race—and with the WSBK rules specifying that the races will continue with each rider making their own determination as to whether they will change tires or not—most riders elected to stay out on slicks, as the pavement was not wet enough for rain tires.
Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea...
Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea (65) took the Race One win as intermittent rain forced Kawasaki's Tom Sykes (66) to choose caution.
In Race One, polesitter Eugene Laverty
took the lead on his factory Aprilia, with Kawasaki teammates Loris Baz
and Tom Sykes
in tow. Sykes soon worked his way to the front, and looked to be slowly pulling away when the rain began fall. Not wanting to risk falling and gathering no points, Sykes began to fall back, while others who didn’t have as much to risk moved to the front. After falling back as far as sixth, Laverty worked his way back to the front, accompanied by Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea
and FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier. Rea eventually pulled out a small lead that he held to the finish, with Laverty just beating out Camier for second; championship leader Sylvain Guintoli padded his points lead by finishing fourth, while Sykes could only manage 11th.
Kawasaki's Loris Baz (67)...
Kawasaki's Loris Baz (67) took the Race Two win in the same intermittent rain conditions as the first race.
Race Two also started dry, and Sykes quickly worked his way to the front and once again looked like the man to beat—as long as it stayed dry. That didn’t happen, and as rain began to fall midway through the race, the chasing pack swallowed up Sykes again. One of those chasing Sykes was his teammate Baz, who revels in these types of conditions. Baz began mixing it up with fellow Frenchman Jules Cluzel on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki, Laverty, Rea, and Camier, with Guintoli also joining the fray. The rain held up for a bit, allowing the track to dry out and the pace to pick up, only for it to fall again with a few laps left to go. Cluzel crashed and was seemingly out of the race, until Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam highsided and both his bike and himself were left prone on the racetrack, forcing officials to red-flag the race. This brought the finishing order back to the previous lap, allowing Cluzel to keep his second place, with Baz taking his first WSBK win and Laverty salvaging third. Sykes kept the points damage to a minimum by finishing seventh right behind Guintoli; the Aprilia rider still leads the title chase, now by 13 points over Sykes.
The next race is August 30-September 1 at the Nurburgring.
“Race One was probably one of the sweetest victories of my career because to ride out front in those conditions was quite scary,” admitted Rea. “I was so happy for the whole team and our sponsors, but I had to be very cautious. I also had to be smart and, as I saw the gap heading into the last few laps, I didn’t want to be throwing away that kind of lead. My team gave me a great bike after we pulled something out for Superpole that worked in the dry. We made a good change for race two and got up to fourth after I got stuck behind Tom Sykes for a few laps. I lost way too much time at the beginning but I was happy to do a 2:05 lap in the later stages. The Race Two result was OK but we can go into the summer break happy enough that we’ve got an overall package that can challenge for podiums.”
Tom Sykes (66) looked like...
Tom Sykes (66) looked like the man to beat in both races as long as the track stayed dry. BMW's Chaz Davies (19) suffered an engine failure in Race Two that took him out of a possible podium position.
“After race one I was really disappointed because I was fighting for the podium but maybe I was thinking too much about this and made a lot of mistakes, so I finished fifth,” said Race Two winner Baz. “In Race Two I said to myself, ‘OK, this one is mine.’ In the first part of the race, even in the dry, I had good pace and I pushed at the front. I tried to control the pace from the front but there were some fast people behind me and it was difficult to go away. Every time somebody tried to pass me I passed them back and at the end the conditions were really wet and I nearly fell. I want to say thanks my team because they are making a really good job with this bike for not just Tom or me but for both riders. Now I feel really comfortable. I also want to dedicate this victory to Andrea Antonelli’s family.”
World Superbike Silverstone Race One results:
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
2. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
3. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
4. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia
5. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
6. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki
7. Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda
8. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) Ducati
9. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
10. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW
11. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
12. Max Neukirchner (GER) Ducati
13. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
14. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia
15. Mark Aitchison (AUS) Kawasaki
16. Federico Sandi (ITA) Kawasaki
17. Vitorrio Iannuzzo (ITA) BMW
DNF Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia
World Superbike Silverstone Race Two results:
1. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
2. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
4. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
5. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
6. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia
7. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
8. Aytron Badovini (ITA) Ducati
9. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
10. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
11. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia
12. Max Neukirchner (GER) Ducati
13. Federico Sandi (ITA) Kawasaki
14. Mark Aitchison (AUS) Kawasaki
15. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia
16. Vittorio Iannuzzo (ITA) BMW
DNF Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda
DNF Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW
World Superbike Championship standings:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia 262
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 249
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 226
4. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 221
5. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW 180
6. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki 180
7. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda 176
8. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia 138
9. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki 114
10. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki 113