Tom Sykes delivered a masterful victory in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship eBay Sprint Race at Donington Park, becoming the ninth different race winner of the season to take the MCE Ducati team back to the top of the podium.
Sykes was inch-perfect during the 15-lap Sprint Race and silenced his critics by leading from the start to celebrate victory with MCE Ducati who become the seventh different team to win this season.
At the start, Sykes launched off the line from the front row to lead the field into Redgate for the first time. The previous World Champion then controlled the race, and despite the gap narrowing in the closing stages, he secured victory in Bennetts BSB for the first time since 2010.
However, the chasing pack continued to shuffle, and it was Jason O’Halloran on the McAMS Yamaha who gave a gritty performance following his two high-speed crashes last week to return to the podium.
The Australian had fought his way through the field after dropping to sixth on the opening laps, taking on his rivals to carve his way up the order with determined moves to keep his title competitors behind him.
The final podium position went down to the last lap to be decided as championship leader Bradley Ray held the initial advantage. Peter Hickman was in close contention and at Goddards for the final time, the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha made a small mistake, which gave the FHO Racing BMW rider the opportunity he needed.
Hickman’s third place came in his 400th Bennetts BSB race start with Ray taking fourth, to extend his advantage by five points as some of his closest rivals missed out in the opening race.
Glenn Irwin was leading the next group of Title Fighters in fifth place for Honda Racing UK as he moved up the order in the closing stages, keeping Lee Jackson and Kyle Ryde behind him. The pair had been dueling throughout the race as they bid to bag the points with just five races now remaining.
Tommy Bridewell was eighth on the Oxford Products Racing Ducati as he too had been part of an earlier battle with his closest title challengers. Leon Haslam and Ryan Vickers completed the top ten.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Donington Park GP, eBay Sprint Race:
Tom Sykes: “I can’t thank the team enough and this win is for them. I was obviously hoping for more this season but Donington Park is more of a Superbike circuit than some of the others we’ve been to and although I still had a couple of limitations with the bike, I was able to ride round them and put the MCE Ducati where I wanted to, taking advantage of the strengths we had in other areas. I’ve a lot of experience around here and the two qualifying sessions was more beneficial as it enabled us to understand the bike a bit more. We made a slight change in between Q1 and Q2 and although I had to be conservative in some corners and lost a bit of time, it was good to be on the front row. I wanted a good, clean start and get away with the leaders and that is exactly what I did.”
Johnny Mowatt, PBM Ducati Team Co-ordinator: “If Tom was going to win anywhere, it was going to be here at Donington given what he’s done previously in the World Superbike Championship and he rode a superb race, controlling it perfectly. Leading from start to finish is no easy task in BSB but that’s what he did despite the pressure he was under, and it was awesome to see and brilliant for the MCE Ducati team to be back on the top step. Behind the scenes, it’s been doom and gloom at times but, like all teams, we’ve continued to work hard, week in, week out and there’s been no shortage of effort. Congratulations to all the lads and to everyone that’s stuck by us through thick and thin.”
Tom Sykes proved to be unstoppable in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park this afternoon, snatching the race two win from standings leader Bradley Ray to celebrate a second victory for the MCE Ducati team.
Sykes didn’t get the best start from the front row of the grid and Ray led the pack through Redgate for the first time. Leon Haslam had his hopes of home success cut short as the 2018 champion crashed out on the opening lap.
Sykes wrestled his way back into contention, holding second with a move at the Melbourne Hairpin on Andrew Irwin and then had Ray in his sights.
The MCE Ducati rider then made a decisive move at Redgate on the start of lap three to return to the front and then delivered a textbook performance to secure his second win of the weekend.
Ray returned to the podium in second place, extending his advantage at the top of the standings, but behind Glenn Irwin had charged up the order to claim the final podium position for Honda Racing UK. The third place moved him up ahead of Lee Jackson in the standings by three points ahead of race three.
Andrew Irwin had earlier been scrapping with his brother but he was able to hold off the next group of contenders with a fourth place for SYNETIQ BMW.
Lee Jackson was fifth for the Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki after a final tussle at Goddards on the last lap to keep Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran behind him, as the Title Fighters diced for the crucial points.
Peter Hickman had been in the battle for the top five earlier in the race on the FHO Racing BMW but faded to eighth place in the closing stages with Josh Brookes and Ryan Vickers completing the top ten.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Donington Park GP, race two result:
Bradley Ray stormed to victory in the final Bennetts British Superbike Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park, holding off the challenge from the Irwin brothers to return to the top step of the podium.
The race had got underway and was red flagged on the opening lap when Chrissy Rouse crashed heavily on the opening lap of the race, exiting Goddards Corner.
An 18-lap restart began with double race winner Tom Sykes launching off the line into the lead as Jason O’Halloran dived into second ahead of Ray with Glenn and Andrew Irwin in hot pursuit.
On the second lap, O’Halloran took his opportunity to take the lead and made a pass on the brakes into the Melbourne Hairpin but Sykes was instantly back ahead on the MCE Ducati.
Sykes was still holding the advantage, but Ray was soon into second and then grabbed the lead on the fourth lap. Glenn Irwin had also been on the move and he was able to get ahead of Sykes and began his bid to hunt Ray.
As Sykes bid to make a counterattack on the riders ahead of him, he had O’Halloran for company and on the sixth lap, the McAMS Yamaha rider made a mistake into the Melbourne Hairpin, colliding with Sykes and crashing out. Sykes was consequently forced to retire from the race.
The incident between them is under investigation as O’Halloran was attending the Medical Centre after sustaining injuries to his thumb and ankle. It will be heard at Brands Hatch.
There was subsequently a BMW Safety Car intervention until the incident was cleared. Glenn Irwin hit the front of the pack, but Ray fought hard to regain the position. The Honda Racing UK rider was leading until lap 14 when he lost his foot peg at the Fogarty Esses and then it was a damage limitation act.
Andrew Irwin moved into second for SYNETIQ BMW which he held until the finish, whilst Glenn Irwin scrapped with Tommy Bridewell over the final three laps to just hold off his Oxford Products Racing Ducati rival.
Danny Buchan completed the top five for the SYNETIQ BMW team just ahead of Kyle Ryde and Lee Jackson.
Ryan Vickers was eighth ahead of Danny Kent on the Buildbase Suzuki with Leon Haslam bouncing back from an earlier crash to claim tenth at his home round.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Donington Park GP, race three result:
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings:
Tom Sykes: “It’s been great to take another race win today and I’m more pleased for the team than I am myself as they’ve not stopped working all year and deserve the success. I was in third place in the initial stages of today’s first race, but the bike was fantastic and once I’d got the lead, I felt really comfortable and was able to control the race very nicely. We made some small alterations to the bike, nothing major, but with the red flag, the performance with edge grip on the tyre dropped off. I still thought a good podium was on the cards but, unfortunately, another rider made a mistake and hit the back of me, which was obviously not their intention. It’s a shame to end with a DNF but we’ve got to be happy with two wins and have some smiles back in the garage.”
Johnny Mowatt, PBM Ducati Team Co-ordinator: “All in all, it’s been a very good weekend and with two wins, it’s been great to see the PBM MCE Ducati team back on the winner’s step. It was good to back up Saturday’s victory with another win and it was another, controlled ride from Tom. We were hopeful of making it a treble, but the restart didn’t work out for us with the drop in tyre performance, but a podium finish was a strong possibility. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as Tom was hit from behind by another rider with damage to the bike making it impossible to continue. Josh had a tough day, and it won’t have been easy for him to have seen his teammate take two wins, but he’ll evaluate everything with his team and look to end the year strongly at Brands Hatch, a circuit that’s been good for him in the past.”