The mad rush at Nurburgring ended in madness, but also victory. Tom Sykes took the win in the 1st race, while Chaz Davies took the win in the 2nd race. The Kawa-rider also managed to pass Sylvain Guintoli and now leads the championship with 1 point. There are 4 more round to go, and it looks like it will be a neck-to-neck race for points.
By Chitra Subramanyam
I come to you breathless, with a hoarse throat and burning palms (I was clapping hard). But give me a madness-infused race day over a staid one anytime. For, that was Nurburgring. It was everything we hoped for. Despite the Red Flags. Despite the injuries. I think all of us could have done without that part.
It happened in Race 1. It was horrific. Jonathan Rea, who was at 4th, and Leon Camier lost control of their bikes at turn 9. It was a result of the oil left on the track by a broken engine courtesy Federico Sandi’s 10R. Rea has been diagnosed with a broken left femur and Camier has been sent to the hospital because of an injury to the top of his neck. Race 1 also proved to be laden with bad luck for Eugene Laverty who crashed and had to pull into the pits for a change. He rejoined the race and ended up way down the list. “A small mistake but another mistake nonetheless. I touched the engine casing on the kerb and crashed out of race 1,” Laverty tweeted later. It was enough to make him angry. And an angry Laverty means a fantastic Race 2.
Tom Sykes managed to decrease the points gap in the first race after taking the win. Race 2 was that moment when he could pass Sylvain Guintoli and take on the mantle of championship leader. But the BMWs and the Aprilias had a different plan in mind. Marco Melandri (after staying quiet the past few races) surged to the top, as did Chaz Davies. The Welshman was in form all weekend. And this time, he was prepared to give his teammate a tough time. As was Laverty for that matter. Before I knew it, Laverty had passed his teammate way down in the grid, attacked Sykes, and was running in 3rd. It was a three-way battle where our warriors changed places – it was so consistent that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for fear that I would miss even a second. Sykes was down at 4th with rival Guintoli at 5th. It was a matter of points and Sykes managed to hold off the Aprilia rider, until the very end.
It was at the 19th lap when it happened. A red flag waved, just as Laverty, now at 2nd place, tried to make a move on Davies. The commentators groaned. Were we going to miss another brilliant battle? But the race organizers had learnt from Race 1. One Event rider Matej Smrz had crashed. He landed next to his R1 that had left a patch of oil on the tarmac. The second race ended on the 19th lap.
It was a race well won, and about time in coming. Chaz Davies finally took a win – a much, much-deserved one. Especially considering the Race 1 battle. Davies and Melandri spent a lot of time changing places, passing and trying to stay ahead of each other. The Race 1 battle helped Sykes though. He managed to extend his lead and stay ahead.
But Sykes was an unhappy ‘un at the end of Race 2. He sat in the box, frustrated. He has managed to get ahead of Guintoli in the championship standings. But don’t forget that Monza matter, which still needs sorting. It looks like it will all come down to the International Disciplinary Court who is dealing with the appeal lodged by the Aprilia Racing Team and Sylvain Guintoli. The FIM stewards at Monza had cancelled the drop of position sanction (3rd to 4th in Race 2) that Race Direction had imposed on Sykes.
It was heartbreak over at the Mahi Racing camp as well. Kenan Sofuoglu’s arch nemesis Sam Lowes solidified his championship lead after taking the WSS win. Sofuoglu crashed out leaving his teammate Fabien Foret to fly the team colours on the podium. The Frenchman took 2nd place in the race. But Lowes now leads the championship with 185 points. Sofuoglu is way behind at 131 points.
But there’s nothing so cut and dry about the SBK championship. It’s still up for grabs. Sykes now leads with 287 points, a lonesome point ahead of Guintoli. Melandri upped his game this round and is now at 257 points, with Laverty, 10 points behind at 247. We have got four more rounds to go. Istanbul is going to be the next battleground. Fingers crossed? I would suggest you cross your toes as well. After all, it all boiled down to .5 points last year.