There was excitement in the air this Saturday after Tom Sykes scored his seventh pole of the season. The would-he-wouldn’t-he began anew. Would Kawa finally break its jinx at the battleground we call Brno? I was definitely hoping for a win – Sykes needed it. It was long in coming.
Sykes said it too after setting an invincible 1m58.010. “I’m very happy to take pole again, but I’d swop this for 25 points in the championship any day of the week! It’s fair to say that Kawasaki have got the sheer speed in this championship and it’s no secret we still need to work on the balance of the bike for the race, but this is coming and today we made the best of the situation,” he said in a WSBK press release. Carlos Checa, Eugene Laverty, and Davide Giugliano took 2nd, 3rd and 4th, with Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea right behind.
But Brno had other plans. Race Day dawned and the circuit was wet in patches. Race 1 began. Max Biaggi, who didn’t run in the Qualifying, was way down at the 14th spot. But the pressure was on. Sykes battled for position, even as Melandri crept up behind, climbing steadily up the grid. The lead changed hands for a brief while, as Maxime Berger took charge, but gave way. It soon became a three-way battle between a focused Melandri on the power-packed BMW, Rea and Sykes. It promised to be a nail-biting finish. Then, suddenly, Sykes and Rea made contact, colliding at a corner. It ended Sykes’ run for a dream win on his favourite circuit. But it also saw a bloody scary crash, as Rea tumbled over his bike and crashed out. Melandri won the race, with Sykes coming a close 2nd. His Kawa teammate Loris Baz, the 19-year-old who took Joan Lascorz’s place, came 3rd. Baz later said in a press release, “It’s great and I can’t believe it! The race was just perfect for me, I knew we had a good pace in the wet so just tried to do the best possible. Then my race pace was quite good compared to the other guys; we just had some problems with the front. The last lap was not easy, but I am really happy, the team did a great job.”
The second race couldn’t begin soon enough. I had distraction though, in the shape of a brilliant F1 race at the classic, historical Hockenheim circuit. Just as Button and Vettel battled it out in the final lap, Sykes got ready for Race 2. This time it was going to be different. The lights went red and Sykes set off like a rocket, blazing down the tarmac. It was focus at its best; a determination to win that seeped through. The Kawa racing green glinted as Sykes set a phenomenal pace. But, the race was long and there was still that BMW to deal with (Yes, I know. I wax eloquent when it comes to Kawa). Melandri caught up with Sykes pretty soon. The two played a nail-biting duel that went back and forth. But it was not to be.
Melandri went on to score a double win – creating a personal landmark, after he passed Sykes on the final lap. The gap of 0.140 seconds was too long for Sykes, who just couldn’t catch up. Carlos Checa grabbed 3rd, while Biaggi managed to get in on 4th. Melandri later said, “I’m living in a dream, it’s a first time for me to get a double win! It’s something fantastic to see BMW leading the Constructors’ Championship and it makes me very proud.” A disappointed, but upbeat Sykes said, “It’s fair to say we made another big leap forward this weekend, but unfortunately Marco spoiled my day yet again. Hopefully payback is on its way!”
The beautiful superbikes now make their way to Sykes’ homeland and the historic Silverstone – a circuit that has always promised excitement and challenge. Here’s to Sykes and a Kawasaki victory on his home ground.
Fresh Off the Press
Much excitement this week. There’s Leon Haslam who is looking simply smashing in his new suit – painted on. Copyright laws, do not let me feature the image, but you see the gorgeous image here. Haslam stripped down (down girls!) for Double World Body Painting Champion Carolyn Roper who painted his BMW Motorrad Motorsport team leathers on to his torso and arms (watch the video here). Phew! Hot flushes galore.
Meanwhile, as you are waiting for the Silverstone race (and really do not want to go the F1 or MotoGP way), gear up for the Suzuka 8 Hour race in Japan as it celebrates 35 years. Jonathan Rea, Hiroshi Aoyama, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Noriyuki Haga and Leon Camier among others, will be going hard-core at this gruelling endurance event. Qualifying will be on Friday.
Surprise, surprise. An Indian team has been floated to participate at the Supersport World Championship next year. It has a pretty complicated name: Kawasaki MSD R-N Team India. They made their debut at Brno with Florian Marino on the Ninja ZX-6R who will be joined by Dan Linfoot at Silverstone. The team principal is Amit Sandill, an electronics and communications engineer and Andrew Stone takes on the mantle of technical director. But, here’s the fun part (I looked like a goldfish when I read it). The team is also named after its director Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India’s superstar cricketer and cricket captain. He’s also a superbike enthusiast. Aaannndd Nagarjuna is also a director of the team. He’s an actor, and a verrrryyy popular one at that in South India. Wonder where this will go? The team will make its first full-season debut next year and will also race at the Buddh International Circuit in India. (I can’t wait to see it).