By winning both legs of the event organized in Italy on the Imola circuit, Tom Sykes has moved up to first place overall in the World Superbike Championship.
A month after his twin-win in Donington, Tom Sykes did it again on the Imola circuit by winning both races. The day before, the Kawasaki rider won his sixth Superpole of the season, setting a new lap record of 1’47.274 on the way. “It was a perfect weekend,” said the Brit. “I’m really pleased about it, because I like this circuit and we were able to use it to our advantage. I also thought a lot about Joan Lascorz who was seriously injured here last year. It’s not much in comparison with what he has to put up with today, but I want him to know that we haven’t forgotten him.” Victim of a fall during the qualifying sessions, Loris Baz had to grit his teeth during the races to finish ninth and sixth. “I had a sore shoulder and ankles,” said the French rider. “They bothered me when I was shifting gears and changing directions. Given the conditions, I’m not unhappy with my two results.” In Supersport, Sofuoglu got back his winning ways by beating Sam Lowes. At odds with the settings of his motorcycle, Fabien Foret had to settle for twelfth place.
With the fifty points he scored in Italy, Tom Sykes has taken control of the championship. The Kawasaki rider now leads Sylvain Guintoli by six points. After seven events, Loris Baz stays in sixth place overall with one hundred and twenty-six points. In Supersport, his second win of the season means Kenan Sofuoglu has moved up to thirty-four points behind the leader, in this case Brit rider Sam Lowes. Fabien Foret follows the two of them twenty-one points behind.
Kawasaki have not been at the top of the World Superbike Championship for almost twenty years. The defending champion at that time, American Scott Russell stayed in the lead most of the 1994 season before finally losing to Carl Fogarty. Thanks to the abandonment of Sylvain Guintoli in the first race and his own wins in both legs at Imola, Tom Sykes is now the Championship leader for the first time in his career. Vice World Champion in 2012, maybe the Kawasaki rider can start to believe in his chances as the Championship moves into its second half. “It’s better not to think about it,” says Marcel Duinker, his chief mechanic. “There’s no point putting on additional pressure. You have to continue taking the races one after the other, and try to do the best you can in each of them. We’ll draw up the accounts at the end of the year.”