Following a tragic week with the passing of American racing icon Nicky Hayden, the 2017 World Superbike Championship headed to Donington Park in the UK for round six of 13.As a memorial to Hayden, who died Monday, May 22, from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident in Italy, fans and riders carried stickers and flags in tribute the 2006 MotoGP Champion Hayden. All podium finishers also wore t-shirts donning Hayden’s famous number 69 in honor of the Kentucky Kid.
In the spirit of Hayden, the racing went on. And once again, the Kawasaki Racing Team of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes dominated the weekend.Starting from pole, the ZX-10RR Ninja pilot Sykes claimed the race-one win as teammate and two-time World SBK reigning Champion Rea crashed out. This was Sykes ninth-straight win at his home race, and was joined on the podium by two other British riders: wildcard rider Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team).Although Rea suffered his first crash of the season in race one, he redeemed himself with the race-two win. Rea was joined on the podium by Sykes and Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies.With his victory, Rea also provided Kawasaki with its 100th World SBK win. The first win for Kawasaki was with Adrien Morillas aboard the GPX 750 at the legendary Hungaroring during World SBK’s debut year in 1988.“I had an incredible first lap today,” Rea says. “I had been really frustrated because I got penalized by no fault of my own yesterday in scoring no points and then penalized again with my grid position today, when I went back to tenth. I knew I had to make a good start straight away otherwise my race was over.“I was really quiet today and after warm-up I was really nervous. I was going through all these scenarios in my head about what I would do with a good start, or a bad start, and then what my race plan would be. My guys worked really hard overnight to build a completely brand new bike because yesterday’s was destroyed. The first time I rode it this morning, with some set-up changes from Pere. The bike was talking to me in a way I have not had this year. So I knew today was mine if I could get a good start.”Rea also spoke of claiming Kawasaki’s 100th SBK win: “There was a little bit of pressure for the 100th Kawasaki win and I was thinking about it today. From half race distance I said to myself that it has to be me today. We managed the race perfectly and I even managed a nice little stand-up wheelie at the end!”With his 2017 Donington Park World Superbike results, Rea now has 260 pints as he chases his third-straight SBK title. Sykes is second, 55 pints behind, and Davies third 75 behind.The series now breaks for two weeks ahead of Misano World SBK June 16-18. Following are the official WorldSBK recaps:
2017 Donington World Superbike Results, Race 1 Recap
Sykes took a brilliant win in Race 1 of the PATA UK Round in a dramatic race which brought crashes for Rea and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Wildcard Haslay and Lowes made it an all-British podium, as Sykes took an amazing ninth successive victory in his home race at Donington Park.An incident-packed race saw provisional leader Davies go down in the early stages at turn 12, after he lost the front end. He picked his Ducati up to rejoin, eventually finishing eighth having crashed at the same corner as he did in last year’s Race 1 at Donington and this latest incident will be a big blow to his World title aspirations.With 6 laps to go Sykes got through on his teammate Rea to lead and within just over a lap he had opened up a two second gap on his Northern Irish teammate. Rea then suffered a high speed accident at turn 3, crashing out of the race, but was soon back on his feet and was taken back to the pits on a scooter.A superb ride by Haslam on his return to the series saw him take a highly creditable second place, whilst Lowes took third thanks to a late move on Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) completed the top five, with Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) making it four Brits in the top six to further delight the home crowd.In seventh place Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) crossed the line a couple of seconds ahead of Davies, with Spaniards Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) completing the top ten after 23 breathtaking laps around the exciting 4.023km Donington Park Circuit.Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) unfortunately suffered technical issues and ended up with DNFs.The riders will be back in action on Sunday with Race 2 at the PATA UK Round at 3pm local
2017 Donington World Superbike Results, Race 2 Recap
The PATA UK Round concluded on Sunday afternoon with a dramatic Race 2, which brought victory for World Champion Rea after a crash on Saturday, with Rea’s KRT colleagues Sykes and Davies also on the podium.Rea’s eighth victory of 2017 extends his lead in the standings to 55 points after six rounds and he rode brilliantly at the Donington Park Circuit to beat his teammate to the line by 1.601 seconds and win his home race.The result brought an end to Sykes’ remarkable run of nine successive wins at Donington and the Yorkshireman was amongst the first to congratulate Rea on his triumph. It was also Kawasaki’s 100th race win in WorldSBK.In parc ferme after the race Rea dedicated his win to the late Nicky Hayden who so sadly passed away earlier in the week after a cycling accident in Italy.Van der Mark had looked good for a podium result but was caught for third in the final stages by a determined Davies – who had crashed and finished eighth on Saturday.Lowes completed the top five and Camier made it five Britons in the top six, crossing the line five seconds behind Lowes.Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) was seventh and he was joined in the top ten by Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Jake Dixon (Royal Air Force Reg. & Res. Kawasaki) and Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team).Only 14 participants were able to finish the race as a number of high profile riders crashed out, including wild card Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) and Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC-Project).Meanwhile, Melandri stopped on the eighth lap after the chain of his Ducati Panigale R broke and fell loose.