Donington Park. After pole position and a podium finish on Saturday, Sunday’s action in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) at Donington Park (GBR) did not go according to plan for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. In the Superpole race, unfortunate circumstances saw BMW S 1000 RR rider Tom Sykes (GBR) end up with a DNF instead of finishing in second on the podium. In the main race of the afternoon, a catch-up race saw him finish in seventh place. Peter Hickman (GBR) retired in the morning due to a technical defect, he finished eleventh in the afternoon.
Sykes started the morning’s Superpole sprint race from pole position. He was embroiled in a close duel for the lead with Jonathan Rea (GBR / Kawasaki) and was at the front of the field for four laps. Rea overtook him, but Sykes was hot on the heels of his rival in second place. With three laps to go, a technical defect meant Hickman lost oil, several riders fell as a result, and the race was aborted. After the race was red flagged and the field headed back to the pits, the oil slick also sent Sykes skidding into the gravel. Second place was taken away from him and he was classified as not having finished the race.
This meant Sykes had to start the second main race of the afternoon from tenth on the grid. With a plucky catch-up race, he moved up into seventh. Hickman started from eleventh on the grid and briefly dropped down one place, but was back in eleventh after the second lap, where he remained until the end of the race. Hickman stepped in for Markus Reiterberger (GER) at Donington Park, who was unable to compete after contracting a severe viral infection. Reiterberger will return to action in the next round this coming weekend at Laguna Seca (USA).
Quotes after race two at Donington Park.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Unfortunately, today didn’t go according to plan. Firstly, we are very sorry that the technical issue with Peter’s motorcycle in the Superpole race affected other riders, who ended up falling. Unfortunately, Tom’s second place was revoked after he fell on the cool down lap and was unable to make it back to the pits with his bike within the requisite time. In the main race he delivered another outstanding performance and got a lot out of the race with seventh place. We need to file today under learning year and move forward. We saw that the pace of the BMW S 1000 RR is definitely there, and we hope we can convert this into the corresponding results in the Superpole and all three races at Laguna Seca. Kudos to Peter, who jumped in at short notice and delivered a really strong performance.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “The rule book went against us in the Superpole Race. Tom did everything right. He had a good, strong pace. It was only between him and Jonathan to battle for the win in the sprint race. To be penalised with the five-minute return-pit-lane rule we felt was extremely harsh considering all the circumstances. However, there is nothing in the rule book that would have allowed any different outcome to that. Tom could not get the bike back to the paddock – it could not be moved – within the five-minute period stipulated in the rule book. So, we must accept the outcome as harsh as it is. Tom’s main race was obviously affected by starting from tenth. He rode a strong race and even though he struggled with grip he was within a second of fourth position and not too far away from the podium. We have to take strength from this weekend; I’m pleased with the guys, I’m proud of everyone’s effort, and proud of how everyone bounced back from such a big knockback in the sprint race to come back fighting in the main race. We will take this away with us, it will hopefully make us stronger and we will learn from it. Peter had a bit of a lonely main race. If he had got away a little bit sharper at the start, he could maybe have stayed with the guys in front of him. But we are happy with P11. He did not put a foot wrong all weekend, coming in at the last minute and he has certainly done himself and the team proud.”
Tom Sykes: “It certainly was an unlucky day. When we came over the hilltop into Melbourne Loop after the red flag, there was a parked car right at the edge of the tarmac, and riders, bikes and marshals, so I looked up just to try and understand if someone was coming on track. Then I hit the oil, Jonathan nearly crashed and I unfortunately did. What happened completely changed the dynamic of the day and of the long race. Starting from tenth, I struggled as I would have needed some clear air. The performance was certainly compromised in today’s race. It’s a shame because we definitely had the pace for the podium. Yes, I’m disappointed but with the form we have shown this weekend, we still have a lot of positives to take away.”
Peter Hickman: “I’m a bit disappointed to be outside the top ten, to be honest. I felt I had some pace to be in the top ten. But I did not quite have the grip in the final race compared to what we had earlier in the day and yesterday. Maybe the track temperature went up a bit but because of what had happened in the Superpole Race, we did not the have time to make changes to the bike based on what we had learned in the first race for the second. But that’s the way it goes. I’ve had a good weekend, I’ve enjoyed myself and learned something. The team has been fantastic, thanks to Smiths Racing BMW for allowing me to compete here, and to Dunlop UK for allowing me to drop their weekend to come here. I hope to get an opportunity like this again sometime in the future.”