The penultimate round of the 2012 World Superbike and Supersport Championships took place in Portimao in Portugal this weekend, while the British Superbike Championship left the UK for the first time, with Assen in the Netherlands hosting the first of the Showdown rounds.
SHARK riders made up two thirds of the podium in the first World Superbike race, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) on the top step and Sylvain Guintoli (PATA Racing Team) in third. Sykes rode from pole to a convincing victory in tricky, drying conditions in race one and in doing so took second place in the championship with only one round to go. Unfortunately a technical problem in race two prevented him from going for the double win as he was forced to retire. Guintoli came fourth.
The World Supersport race saw another double podium for SHARK as PTR Honda’s Jules Cluzel enjoyed a brilliant victory after a race-long fight at the front and Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) was less than a second behind in third. Bogdanka PTR Honda’s Sam Lowes managed to finish fifth and remains in fourth in the overall standings, just eight points from third position.
The final round of the World Superbike and Supersport Championships take place at Magny Cours in France on Sunday 7th October.
The BSB Showdown opener at Assen was a success for Alex Lowes, who impressed with a double podium. Lowes got off to a bad start from pole in both races but put up a strong and determined fight to blast his way back through the pack and take two third-place finishes. Team-mate James Westmoreland kept his Riders’ Cup bid on track with two eighth places.
Samsung Honda’s Michael Laverty dropped to fifth in the overall standings after struggling to find the best setting for the tyre longevity. Despite hitting the front of the field in the early stages of both races, he later dropped down the order in each outing, eventually ending the day with two seventh places. Ian Lowry was 14th and 17th while Danny Buchan came 16th in race one but unfortunately did not finish race two. In the British Supersport class, Ben Wilson took two seventh places.
Tom Sykes, SBK
We have had some good luck today and also had some bad luck. Obviously on the good luck side in race one, in the first start, we were really struggling. We made two big changes to the bike after the red flag so on the restart it was a different motorcycle and I was able to do what I wanted with it. I felt more comfortable. So a big thanks to the team and Kawasaki for the snap decision to make those changes. I was feeling confident for race two because we had done a lot of work this weekend and I definitely felt we could have had a very strong race. Honestly I felt I could have been top two in that second race, or maybe even better, but it is what it is.
Jules Cluzel, WSS
That was one of my hardest races so I am really happy to win. I had big problems braking at the start of the race but then I calmed myself down and really concentrated. Then at the end I relaxed for the last three laps and was able to do good lap times. For me the target was to do my best and win if I could, I was not thinking about the Championship. I will be more relaxed now the title is decided for my home race at Magny Cours and will want a good result as I think I will have a lot of fans coming to watch.
Sam Lowes, WSS
I didn’t have the best of starts but the bike was feeling good and I was doing well early on. A few laps in I had a big moment and nearly crashed in the last corner and hurt my shoulder. It took me a long time to recover and I lost some time. I was struggling a little bit at the end but other than that it’s been good so it’s not that bad. It was unlucky to have the race in a bit of strange conditions as the track wasn’t very good after the rain and the lap times were a lot slower than in practice; but I’m looking forward to Magny Cours already and want to end the season on a high.
Michael Laverty, BSB
That was a horrible day for me that had promised so much – coming at the start of the Showdown this is my worst day of the season. We had been working so hard and had a good pace but we were always worrying about tyre choice for the races. In the first race we used the softer compound which had good pace, but it wore and I dropped back down the field to seventh. For the second race we used the harder tyre but we couldn’t get the grip. That has put me on the back foot and I have to come back strongly at Silverstone – it has been so frustrating as I couldn’t get the result that I wanted.