This weekend SHARK-supported riders were out in force as the World Superbike Championship continued from Assen, the Netherlands and MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 from Argentina, South America. It was a successful outing for SBK riders at Assen with one race win and two-second places collected.
At Assen, Sylvain Guintoli stormed to victory in race one. From the off he set an impossible pace for the rest of the field to follow and although racing in slightly damp conditions with slick tyres, the Frenchman still managed to set a lap record on the third lap of 1:36.440. The race was red flagged four laps from the end after an engine blow out. Tom Sykes completed the SHARK 1-2 podium in second place, Loris Baz was fourth and Alex Lowes finished within the top ten in ninth place.
Race two started to look promising again for Guintoli, however heavy rain forced race control to suspend the race and it was later restarted with the distance shorted to ten laps. On the restart Guintoli managed again to get in front and was looking like a double win, but on the last chicane poor surface grip caused him to crash out – he was able to remount and rejoined the race in 18th place. Resuming his previous pace Guintoli eventually crossed the line in ninth place making a remarkable comeback. Meanwhile Lowes took his first SBK podium in second place, Sykes fourth and Baz seventh.
SHARK riders are currently dominating the SBK rider standings; Sykes leads with 108 points, Guintoli second with 96 and Baz third with 93.
Meanwhile in Argentina, South America at the all-new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, Sam Lowes stormed to a fantastic eighth place Moto2 finish – after starting the race in 22nd - following a difficult weekend in practice and qualifying sessions with tyre issues.
In MotoGP Scott Redding finished in 14th after struggling with a lack of front grip. The Brit had high expectations for the race after a strong qualifying performance, but had to ride for points after realising the grip issues. Fellow SHARK-man Aleix Esparagaro finished in 15th place.
It’s a real shame about Race 2. Despite a less than perfect start I was making up ground without any difficulty. The slide in the second lap had nothing to do with any specific mistake. On a track that wet it simply doesn’t take much at all. In spite of the blow to my back and damage to the footpeg and handlebar, I lapped fast and that really makes me angry because it’s clear that I could have won Race 2 as well. In Race 1, on the other hand, I took some risks in the first few laps to try and increase the gap – a dangerous strategy but one that worked in the end. Before the race was called I was keeping an eye on Tom Sykes’ comeback, trying to manage my advantage.
Sylvain Guintoli was definitely setting a good pace at the beginning of race one and I tried to get back to him in the early part of the race. I caught a little bit of damp track surface on the brakes and the rear end came around. I had to run off the track but I left myself with a lot of work to do. The Ninja ZX-10R was working well and I know I could have got a lot closer to Sylvain but passing is another thing. I am happy enough with second in that race. Race two was held in very greasy conditions and we had made a small alteration to the ZX-10R set-up and it probably wasn’t the best change. The good thing is that we are a lot closer than we used to be and I am sure we could have been even closer knowing now what we did not know at the start of the second race.
It was a hard race and a difficult weekend overall with the bike settings, but I improved a lot in the warm up. The race was always going to be hard starting from 22nd, but I’m so happy to finish eighth and have shown we have good potential when everything is right. Jerez is up next and the first circuit of the year I know so I’m excited to race there again. Thanks to everyone for the support!
Next championship rounds:
2-4 May – MotoGP – round four – Jerez, Spain
3-5 May – British Superbike – round two – Oulton Park, Cheshire
9-11 May – World Superbike – round four – Imola, Italy