31 Points Separate Sykes from Guintoli ahead of Magny-Cours Superbike
Only 31 points separate the top two riders in the 2014 World Superbike Championship as the FIM series heads to Magny-Cours in France this weekend.
Leading is Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes. The reigning SBK Champion has won eight races in 10 rounds this season, including sweeps at Aragon, Donington and Misano.
The 29-year-old Brit struggled at the last round in Jerez, Sykes’ Ninja ZX-10 R not able to keep up with the Aprilia Racing RSV4s of Sylvain Guintoli – second in points – and Marco Melandri – fourth in points.
Sykes has much luck at the 2.74-mile circuit containing 20 corners that will host the penultimate round this weekend. Last season, he took the pole before doubling, setting the fastest lap in each race. He will be seeking this performance once again as 2014 World SBK heads into round 11 of 12.
“A big weekend coming up and it is potentially getting down towards crunch time. I am very relaxed and yet also excited to go to Magny-Cours. It is a circuit we have done very well at in the past so I am looking forward to getting back on my Ninja ZX-10R,” Sykes says.
“Despite scoring a podium in race two at Jerez we had a few issues at the previous round, especially in race one, so I am hoping we can be a lot stronger this time out. At this present time we are in a good championship position with the biggest margin for error. Hopefully we can stretch it a bit more this weekend.”
Sykes rival all season, the Frenchman Guintoli, will have much to prove at his home race as he seeks his first-ever World SBK title. Last season, Guintoli took second and third at Magny-Cours, respectively, and won a wet race two in 2012.
“After the solid week end in Jerez, I can’t wait to get back on track in Magny Cours to try to close the Championship gap. It won’t be easy but I still have a chance so I ‘ll take all risks and try my best to beat Tom,” Guintoli says.
“The French public support will be a big advantage and I have been training like an animal! I am ready.”
At Jerez, Guintoli’s teammate Melandri doubled – his second sweep including Sepang. The Italian Melandri has never won at Magny-Cours, though he finished second there on Yamaha YZF-R1 and BMW S1000RR machinery.
Melandri is 75 points behind Sykes, and only 18 behind the man in third, Pata Honda World Superbike’s Jonathan Rea. The Ulsterman finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at Jerez, and finished on the podium twice at Magny-Cours.
Many other riders will seek improved overall standings, including the other Frenchman on the World SBK grid – Kawasaki Racing Team’s Loris Baz. He continues to battle with Ducati Superbike Team’s Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano. All three have yet to finish on the podium this season, and neither have ever made it to the podium at Magny Cours.
As for the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team, it enters Magny-Cours with both sides of the garage knowing their 2015 plans. Eugene Laverty is officially heading to MotoGP, while rookie Alex Lowes recently agreed to extend his partnership with the squad for one more year.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Claudio Corti and Team Hero EBR’s Geoff May and Aaron Yates will have another chance to improve their performance as the season enters the final stretch. A second MV Agusta F4 RR will be run by the Dream Team Company and ridden by 27-year-old Nicolas Salchaud, World SBK reports.
Three more Ducati 1199 Panigale R machines will line-up on the grid at Magny-Cours as Team 3C Racing will take part in the French Round with 2014 German Superbike Champion Xavi Fores and his IDM teammates Max Neukirchner and Lorenzo Lanzi, World SBK reports.
The EVO class sees David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) with one hand on the trophy having a 41 point lead over Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), while local riders Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) are third and fourth respectively with a lot of ground to make up in the standings. However expect them fighting to uphold their honor at home, World Superbike reports.
After 15 years of racing spent in the WSBK paddock, Fabien Foret will contest his final race in the series by joining regular Team Pedercini rider Alessandro Andreozzi and replacing the still injured Luca Scassa, World SBK reports.