The first Superbike World Championship round continued at Phillip Island today with the qualifying session and first race. Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Tom Sykes completed two practices yesterday, which he concluded in twenty-first place with a time of 1’33”015, focusing more on the setup of his ZX-10RR than on lap times.
This morning, the Englishman was back out for the third and final practice in which he improved on his best of yesterday (1’32”684) and prepared for the subsequent Superpole.
During qualifying, the former WorldSBK champion improved significant on his best time, setting a 1’30”914 with which he placed nineteenth.
This meant a seventh row start for the afternoon’s 22-lap race, which ran in difficult, wet conditions. Sykes was making up positions in the early stages when he began to struggle with a gear issue that forced him to pit. With this resolved, Tom returned to the track but then retired definitively during the course of the eleventh lap. A real pity, but the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider will be able to make up for this tomorrow, in the Superpole Race and Race 2.
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit – Victoria – Australia
Superbike World Championship
Combined free practice results: 1) Lecuona (Honda) – 2) Bautista (Ducati) – 3) Oettl (Ducati) – 4) Rinaldi (Ducati) – 5) Rea (Kawasaki) – 6) Gardner (Yamaha) ………. 20) Sykes (Kawasaki)
Superpole: 1) Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) – 2) Bautista (Ducati) – 3) Aegerter (Yamaha) – 4) Rea (Kawasaki) – 5) Oettl (Ducati) – 6) Rinaldi (Ducati) …………..19) Sykes (Kawasaki)
Race 1: 1) Bautista (Ducati) – 2) Rea (Kawasaki) – 3) Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) – 4) Locatelli (Yamaha) – 5) Bassani (Ducati) – 6) Lecuona (Honda) ………. n.c) Sykes (Kawasaki)
“To be honest not an easy day. We know our limitations and know where we can improve but we also had a little bad luck. We had a gear shifting issue in the race and it was tricky to manage, particularly in the damp conditions – I was lucky not to crash. I came in to fix the problem before heading back out and the lap times were starting to look promising actually, but I had to pit again before the end of the race. So a difficult day, but the data from this wet race is useful anyway, and we will see what we can do in tomorrow’s races.”