Imola WorldSBK: Sykes struggles to match practice pace in race

Picture: GeeBee Images

Once again in a WorldSBK weekend Tom Sykes’ pre-race pace could not be replicated in a race, despite his recent race two success at Assen last time out.

In that Assen race he had started from pole and run away. In race two at Imola he was on the back foot already, starting from seventh. And with some problems that meant he had to play all his hands of cards to get what was his fourth podium of the season – and his first double taste of Prosecco in 2018.

“We had to make the best of a bad situation,” the 2013 champion told bikesportnews.com. “I could see the guys in front of me had better overall speed, and just strategically, I tried to come back at them and slowly, slowly got there.

“Then VDM made a mistake and he and Melandri went out of the race, and that made it a lot easier for me to manage. I was able to try a little bit harder with the bike, and do what was needed.

“A podium is what we should have been doing but unfortunately we have had these bad races in Thailand, which could have been a possible 20-25 points more. Now we are paying for this, but on a bad day we made a podium.”

Sykes may have had a tyre issue in race two, but until all the data is gone through, and comparisons made with race one, he was unsure of why there was such a drop in his Sunday pace after only giving best to Rea on Saturday.

“Going off the grid, when we took the tyre warmer off I thought, ‘that’s strange,’” said Sykes. “There were a lot of markings on my tyre. On the first laps I was missing entry grip on the rear and I was making 1’48s laps. My slowest lap yesterday was about 1’47 something, so something was not right and we have to evaluate something.

“It was like a different bike compared to yesterday. All we changed was a couple of clicks and half a mill here or there. Who knows what happened today but I tried my hardest and made the best of the package that was available.”

Sykes had a high-speed grandstand view of the crash that put two of his rivals out ahead of him, and laid the foundation for what was an unlikely podium from the perspective of the early stages of race two.

“Basically, VDM made a mistake coming down the fast right curve (into the first Rivazza left hander) and made a big commitment. It is not a problem if you have a clear track in front, you can get away with it, but unfortunately for VDM he had two riders there and they were very close together. There was a gap, so small in between the two riders, and he tried to put his bike through that gap. But, unfortunately for Marco, he was on the receiving end of some bad luck today.”

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