With Sykes winning from Baz each time out in the day’s two SBK events, David Salom gritted his teeth to finish 13th in race one and 10th in race two on his Evo KRT machine. Tom and Loris now lead the championship outright, with Tom on 75 points and Loris on 71.
The truly peerless raceday performances from Sykes and Baz at the KRT team’s home circuit of Motorland Aragon came after Sykes and Baz had also gone first and second respectively on the grid after Superpole at the 5.344km Motorland circuit. Kawasaki is now leading the Manufacturers’ Championship by ten points after four individual races.
Conditions were cooler for race one, given the early start at 10.30am, with Sykes heading into an immediate lead and pushing away in his inimitable style. In race one he won by 4.275 seconds from Loris, having set a new lap record of 1’57.664 on lap two.
Tom came under pressure in the warmer race two, as track temperatures doubled, with Loris his constant companion. A late challenge from Marco Melandri was rebuffed by both Sykes and Baz, after the Italian rider ran wide in the entry to the final hairpin during an out-braking manoeuvre. Tom held off Loris by only 0.338 seconds in race two, after a quite amazing weekend for the KRT full Superbike riders. Tom has now won sixteen full SBK races in his career.
David Salom was also on strong form despite his recent hand injury, finishing second Evo bike in race one and the best of the Evo riders in race two, securing a top ten finish.
Tom Sykes: “It was very important to put in this kind of performance after the first weekend in Phillip Island. We scored two race wins but after four or five laps of race two it felt far from perfect! Race one was very good and we had a good set-up that gave us a consistent pace on a cold track. I was expecting more of a drop off in that race but it was good to the end. I thought race two was going to be more straightforward in hot conditions so I went for the same SC-0 as race one. There was a change in temperature in race two on the starting grid and I had to dig extra deep and try to make the best of the changing situation. The two guys behind me for sure had more grip than me but we were for sure able to put the Ninja ZX-10R on the pieces of tarmac those guys were looking for. I had a plan on the last lap to keep them behind me - and it worked. If someone had have made the pass and made it stick they would have deserved the win. Marco tried a pass and could not quite make the corner on the final lap. It was great racing and good for the spectators!”
Loris Baz: “There was a change in temperature for race two so we changed the rear tyre to suit it. We knew that race one would be hard for us because of the lower temperature but we hoped that the track would warm a little bit more to be sure to use the SC-0 tyre. Finally it was on the limit in the opening race so we did not know what to do in race two. I pushed Pere my crew chief to use the soft one and I think it was a good decision because Tom seemed to have struggled a bit more in race two on a different tyre. I caught him after a few laps and I think we had good race and we each enjoyed it. I tried to pass Tom but I lost the front a bit. I knew Melandri was closing behind so I wanted to overtake Tom as soon as possible. I could not do it and maybe I went a lap too early. When Marco came past we got involved for a while and we could not quite catch Tom. At this track we have usually struggled but here we are, close to the victory, on the podium twice and that is a good sign for the rest of the season. I am still second in the championship and now we go to Assen.”
David Salom: “It was hard in these two races and we had some problems earlier in the weekend because we had to try out some electronic parts in practice. In the first race it was hard because I did not have the pace I wanted. In the second race was easy in one way because the set-up was better but it was more difficult because I could not get away from Leon Camier. He ran wide on the last lap and then Niccolo Canepa was very near me, but I held on to score a top ten. I am happy for the team because they all worked very hard and the KRT full Superbike riders had a great day too.”
In the 600cc race Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India) swept to his first win of the season at the second round after two of his main rivals fell right in front of him. The three time World Champion eased away at full pace to score maximum points and he was joined on the podium by Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres rider, Florian Marino, in third.
After no scoring in the first round of the year and overcoming the early set-up issues he experienced with his machine at this round, Kenan is now fourth in the world championship, only six behind the lead after two rounds. Marino is second overall, just two points from the leading after scoring his first podium of the season.
Roberto Tamburini (San Carlo Puccetti Racing) placed seventh in the Motorland race, held in warm and sunny conditions, while Patrick Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) was an early force but he dropped back on a couple of occasions, finishing 14thand scoring two points. Christian Gamarino (Kawasaki Team Go Eleven) placed ninth and his team-mate Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki Team Go Eleven) 12th. Tony Covena (Kawasaki Ponyexpres Intermoto) was 17th, just out of the points.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “In the beginning of the weekend we had so many problems but I found out my real speed in morning warm up. I knew I would be ready to fight in the race. When we started the race everybody was doing incredible attacks under braking. Going into the hairpin I watched them and I was just scared, so I took it easy. Before reaching the last five laps I thought would wait because I thought somebody would crash with all the big overtakes going on. When it did not happen and we got to the last five laps I thought I should go. Then one of them made a mistake, which I was expecting. When two of the other riders collided and crashed it made it easier for me as I did not have to pass them and I could control the race. The team, my suspension man, my mechanic, crew chief, they all worked really hard, so a big thanks to them. Also to the people around me, who really support me to win this race. Thanks to everybody who helped me to win today because I really needed it.”
SBK Evo Kawasaki Riders
As well as the official KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom, who finished 13th and 10th at Motorland Aragon, a host of top Kawasaki Evo riders competed for points again. In race one Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) was in 14th place and Sheridan Morais (Iron Brain Kawasaki SBK Team) scored the final point on offer for 15th. In the second race, Morais was 13th and Luca Scassa (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) 14th. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India) recovered from a race one no-score to finish 15th in race two.
Michel Fabrizio (Iron Brain Kawasaki SBK Team) was unable to finish either race while rookie rider Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) placed 19th and 16th, just missing out on a point in race two.
Superstock 1000 FIM Cup
Lorenzo Savadori (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) took a clear second place finish in the first Superstock 1000 FIM Cup race of the year and he now sits in the corresponding second place in the championship rankings. In fourth spot, Christoffer Bergman (BWG Racing Kawasaki) was next best Ninja ZX-10R rider, with Matthieu Lussiana (Kawasaki Team Garnier by Aspi), Simone Grotzkyj (Kawasaki Team Pedercini), David McFadden (MRS Kawasaki), Kevin Valk (MTM Racing Kawasaki) and Romain Lanusse (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) filling the finishing positions from sixth to tenth.