Carlos Checa (left), Leon Camier (right), and Pirelli reps discuss the track conditions at Monza during the red flag stop.
Tom Sykes (66) earned the win in the second race but only half points due to it being shortened to only eight laps.
John Hopkins (21) leads Chaz Davies (19), Maxime Berger (121) and Lorenzo Zanetti during the first lap at Monza before Hopkins' crash in Race One.
A huge crowd of 85,000 at the Monza circuit in Italy was unfortunately cheated out of a full World Superbike program by the erratic weather, with heavy rain forcing the cancellation of Race One, and Race Two being called after eight laps due to more rain showers falling on parts of the circuit. The problem is not so much the wet weather, but the Monza circuit’s high speeds and fast turns that require a very robust tire…while the wet pavement requires the opposite. With several turns that are taken at well over 150 mph, Monza is a unique circuit that places unique demands on a tire. Throw in the necessary prerequisites for rain—i.e., tread siping and compound additives, both of which create heat, which is what you don’t want in a tire for Monza—and you end up with an untenable combination for a tire manufacturer.
The first World Superbike race was aborted after three laps, with Marco Melandri and John Hopkins both crashing heavily in the fast Parabolica turn, Melandri on the first lap, and Hopkins on the third as rain showers pelted that section of the circuit. Hopkins’ crash brought out the red flag, and the American suffered a fractured foot and torn hip muscles that ruled him out of Race Two. After some track inspection and discussion with the riders, Monza race organizers decided to cancel Race One and hope for better conditions for Race Two in the afternoon.
And while the second race did get off to a good start (Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes quickly pulling away from BMW’s Leon Haslam and Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty), another deluge on the back portion of the circuit forced another red flag race stoppage. Once it was determined that any chance of racing on dry surface was not possible, organizers were forced to call the second race at eight laps.
“My second win for Kawasaki but my first this year and it was nice to get that one under the belt,” said Sykes. “It’s a shame that it’s only half points but we put on a good show in eight laps and I hope I put on a good show for the Italian fans. This was my first podium at Monza so that is good and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been working fantastically well. Conditions have often been very bad so there has been a lot of talk and other things going on but it has been my job to keep focused. From the green light the feedback on my bike was fantastic, and I was able to go about my business in a good way and keep out of trouble. I had a great start and got myself into the lead and as Elvis once said, 'It’s now or never.' We went for it and every lap the bike was getting better, the track conditions better and I was confident with our package today that we could do a good race distance.”
As if his body isn’t already hammered from previous injuries, Hopkins’ fractured right foot and torn hip muscles are just another injury that he takes in stride. "That was not a good weekend,” admitted Hopkins. “I got pretty banged up in the first race crash and damaged my left hip and broke a bone in my right foot. I don't know what happened because the bike suddenly let go without any warning. It's a big shame because I had been really looking forward to this weekend and continuing my improvement. Today's conditions were treacherous and all the changes of weather didn't help at all. There was no way we could ride on the wets, so the right decisions were made."
World Superbike Monza race results:
Race One: CANCELLED
1. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
2. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
4. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
5. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
6. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
7. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
8. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati
9. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati
10. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW
11. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda
12. Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia
13. Maxime Berger (FRA) Ducati
14. Lorenzo Zanetti (ITA) Ducati
15. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
16. Leandro Mercado (ARG) Kawasaki
17. Niccolò Canepa (ITA) Ducati
DNS Michel Fabrizio (ITA) BMW
DNS Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati
DNS Sergio Gadea (SPA) Kawasaki
DNS Mark Aitchison (AUS) BMW