Ahead of the summer break, the 2014 World Superbike Championship headed to Mazda Raceway better known as Laguna Seca for round nine. In front of almost 50,000 fans, the opening 25-lap race was won by Aprilia Racing Team’s Marco Melandri. The Italian was joined on the race-one podium by Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes.
Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli went some way towards atoning for the disaster of Portimao by clinching a 1-2 for Aprilia. The teammates took advantage of an early slip by top qualifier Tom Sykes before easing clear to complete a comfortable victory. Everything looked to be running smoothly for Sykes after reaching the first corner first on the opening lap but his supremacy only lasted as far as the Corkscrew when the Yorkshireman outbraked himself.
Melandri wasn’t troubled thereafter and cruised to his third victory of the season with the Italian admitting he had to make the most of the opportunity presented on lap one.
“My start was great even if I was a bit nervous in the first laps since Tom usually tries to pull the pin straight away. When he made that mistake at the Corkscrew I thought that was the right opportunity to push it to the limit. I set my pace, staying focused and not making any mistakes. Only in the last few laps was I finally able to breathe a little easier since I had gained a bit of an advantage over Sylvain. This was a great race. The RSV4 worked wonderfully and the team did an impeccable job”.
Sykes fell six seconds back but comfortably took third ahead of Davide Giugliano who resisted a late challenge from Toni Elias to take fourth. Sykes maintains his points lead in the championship over Guintoli, with Rea sitting third, Baz in fourth and Melandri in fifth.
In race two, the pole-man Sykes earned the win – his sixth of the season. He was joined on the podium by Guintoli and Pata Honda World Superbike’s Jonathan Rea.
Guintoli put on the pressure, and eventually took the lead on the fifth lap. But Sykes immediately responded, and took back the number one spot from Guintoli, as Gunintoli went off his the racing line Melandri was able to seize the moment. The Italian moved into third, and the battle was not between six riders, including Giugliano and Elias.
On lap 11, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes suffered a huge crash on the Corkscrew, which brought out the red flags. The Brit was taken to the medical center for further checks. The race was delayed, and was restarted for a seven-lap sprint to the end. The riders would line up on the grid in the positions they held prior to the stop. Sykes remained on the pole with the Aprilia duo of Melandri and Guintoli alongside. Row two for the restart saw Laverty, Elias and Giugliano.
The race began, but soon red flags were out once again when BMW Motorrad Italia’s Sylvain Barrier crashed at the start/finish straight. Sykes would eventually take the win ahead of Guintoli and Rea. Melandri and Giugliano were on a charge, but both crashed out. Rounding out the top five were Laverty and Elias.
The 2014 World Superbike series now breaks until September 7 when the series returns at Jerez.
World Superbike Championship Points 2014
1. Tom Sykes, 325
2. Sylvain Guintoli, 281
3. Jonathan Rea, 261
4. Loris Baz, 253
5. Marco Melandri, 217
6. Chaz Davies, 159
7. Davide Giugliano, 153
8. Toni Elias, 137
9. Eugene Laverty, 134
10. Leon Haslam, 133