With MotoGP, World and British Superbikes and the first round of the Endurance World Championships taking place over the same weekend, SHARK’s protected riders were in action around the globe this weekend.
In Argentina at round three of the Grand Prix championship Johann Zarco took his first win of the year in the Moto2 category, with last rounds winner Sam Lowes securing third place. Zarco leads the championship by four points. In MotoGP Aleix Espargaro qualified in second place and finished an eventful race bringing home his Suzuki in seventh position. The next round takes place 1-3 May at Jerez in Spain.
In France at Le Mans for the opening round of the Endurance World Championship Vincent Philippe and Etienne Masson (with Anthony Delalle) won the gruelling 24-hr race for the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. Honda Racing, with Freddy Foray and Sebastian Gimbert, led the race in the early stages but were forced to retire with mechanical issues after 20-hours. The next EWC race takes place 26 July at Suzuka.
It was tough going for SHARK’s SBK riders in Assen, Holland. Tom Sykes finished both races in fifth place, Randy de Puniet suffered two DNF’s and his teammate Alex Lowes had one DNF and a ninth place, while Sylvain Guntoli finished within the top-ten in eighth and seventh places. The next round takes place 8-10 May at Imola, Italy.
Back in the UK for the second of 12-rounds for the BSB championship there was success for many SHARK protected riders at Brands Hatch. Kyle Ryde won the first Supersport race and was runner-up in the second installment and broke the lap record.
Josh Elliott won the Superstock 1000 race and now leads the championship after two rounds. Meawhile Marty Nutt placed second and third in the two Ducati TriOptions races and Chris Taylor took a third, second and third in the KTM British Junior Cup. The next round of the British Superbike championship takes place 2-4 May at Oulton Park, Cheshire.
Today was always going to be difficult but I gave it my best right to the end. It’s our first top ten with the new system, which is positive; especially as no one else crashed so it’s a genuine result. We ran strongly for the first few laps of race two, until I got caught out entering turn one, so obviously still need to improve, but we’ve all done our best so we can be happy with that. Thanks to all the team for working so hard, we’ve got some good information to go on now so we will continue to push forward together and see what we can achieve at Imola.
It’s been a struggle this weekend but we have actually come away from both races with some positives. My feeling with the CBR is definitely getting better – it’s just taking more time than we thought. In race two I was able to keep the pace better for much longer and I was actually quite close to the leading group. We’ll take that with us to Imola and keep trying to improve that feeling. We’re basically working on little details and the way I’m riding the bike. It’s taking time to change the way I’m doing things and then dialing in and starting to use the bike properly. But I really feel we’re not far away now so this is the really good news!
We tried to show that we were able to pursue our goals. We thought that the worst was behind us, but every time we were caught by surprise by another breakdown. We were very unlucky during that race and it is a pity because apart from these troubles, we were able to show that we were fast and we had a good race strategy. We would have deserved a better end for us as riders, but also for the team, for Honda and for all the hard work that has been done. I am a bit disappointed, but now I am looking forward to Suzuka, even if the championship points lost today will be difficult to catch up then.
We are all more or less disappointed because we had worked a lot and we thought that we could really perform well in Le Mans. However, like last year, we are at the front every time we have a problem, so I am convinced that once we have put everything end-to-end, we’ll perform very well. For now it is a bit difficult to accept, because we were in a good pace, but that’s racing and we’ll have to keep on working for the rest of the championship.