This past weekend’s round nine of the FIM Superbike World Championships saw mayhem and excitement and two winners on Sunday before the event was finished. Honors for the day’s opening race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Callif., went to Aprilia factory rider Marco Melandri, while Kawasaki factory’s Tom Sykes snapped up the win later in the abbreviated second race of the day.
Race one was the less eventful of the two, with Sykes getting the holeshot after starting from pole position. But Sykes erred in the infamous Corkscrew and Melandri and Aprilia teammate Sylvain Guintoli got by. As the competition heated up, previous track records shattered and the frontrunners began gapping the field. Although they all turned in a good fight, Melandri wound up leading every lap to take the win, with Guintoli in second and Sykes in third.
“I had an awesome start today,” Melandri said on Cycle News. “And was second in the first corner and I was trying to follow Tom because normally he try to pull away in the beginning. Luckily he made a mistake and I went a bit too wide also in the Corkscrew, but not like him so I could pass him.
“At the beginning I felt I was not too fast because my lap time was not as fast as I expect,” Melandri continued. “But in the middle of the race, I didn’t drop down three of four laps I could start to breath a little bit. I hope to get a good start again in race two and do my best. It would be a dream to get a double here in a America because it is a great country.”
Melandri’s dream was not to be. The second race of the day saw two crashes, two red flags and two restarts. The first get-off was a spectacular display in the Corkscrew when Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes went down. Lowes was taken to the medical center but came away relatively unscathed. The second incident occurred when BMW Motorrad Italia’s Sylvain Barrier went down on the front straight. Barrier suffered a dislocated and fractured left subtalar joint.
After all the drama had ensued, however, the race finally came to a conclusion with reigning World Champion Sykes pulling out the win in what was essentially a seven-lap sprint race. This was Sykes’ 22nd career victory and he was joined on the podium by Guintoli and Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea.
After this weekend in Northern California, Sykes continues to lead the points with Guintoli in second and Rea in third.