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May 14, 2012

More From This Past Weekend's Various Races

Tom Sykes (66) leads a group of riders at Donington Park.
Double Podium Takes Sykes Closer To The Lead

WSBK, Donington Park, Europe

Two third places on home soil for Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) put him within five points of the championship lead as his new rookie team-mate Loris Baz scored a strong eighth place in race two.

Starting from pole for the fourth time this year Sykes led both Donington races and finished within 1.609 seconds of the win in the first 23-lap contest of the day. He was in combative and consistent form in race one but in race two he had no choice but to let his pursuers finally get past when he made a small error.

Tom looked set for a fifth place in the second race, after the second close and entertaining fight entered the last lap, but calamities for riders up front saw him promoted to third. Despite finishing behind championship leader Max Biaggi in race two he is now only five slender points behind the Aprilia rider. Tom has now scored five podiums in the nine races so far, including his win last time out at Monza.

Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) made up places in both his starts from 18th on the grid, going 16th and just out of the points in race one, then taking a great eighth in a second race with only 15 finishers.

Kawasaki Team Pedercini rider Leandro Mercado had a double no score today, as did his Donington team-mate, Gary Mason.

Tom Sykes: "Race one was a fantastic race, I really enjoyed it and it certainly felt like a long one as it seemed to go on for many laps. Overall I think we had a very good show, lots of passing and a little bit too much at some corners, especially at the Foggy Esses, which seemed to claim a few victims. Unfortunately we seemed to struggle at one particular part of the track and that definitely affected our race performance. Yet again we got the holeshot and led for a number of laps in race two, but I was missing a bit of feeling with the wind, which was unfortunate. I managed to stay out front but made one mistake and all the other guys came past at a rate of knots. We didn't quite have the best setting this weekend but a pole position and two podiums are great for myself and the Kawasaki team. I had the best seat in the house for the last couple of laps of race two, but for me five minus two equals a podium so I'm very happy!"

Loris Baz: "Race two was really good, to be eighth is a result even if there were some crashes from other riders. I think it would have been about 13th or 14th without those and that is really positive for a first race. But crashes are part of racing and I took some good opportunities. If you look at my lap times I did nearly all my laps alone in front of a group and if you take off the first lap I was about 0.9 seconds from the pace of the fastest riders, like Tom, Rea or Melandri. Less than one second from the top riders in my first race at this level is pretty good."

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Sofuoglu Still In The Lead After Donington Podium

WSS, Donington Park, Europe

Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) rode with his head and his heart at Donington to secure second place in the race and the lead in the championship. Sheridan Morais was a fine sixth.

After qualifying fourth on Saturday Kenan understood very well that he could possibly win the Donington race but on the day the front running force of British rider Sam Lowes took the prize. Sofuoglu was pushing him hard in the latter stages, but realising he risked a crash if he pushed any more and he finally accepted second place, keeping his championship lead.

Having now scored four podiums in five races, including a win in Australia, Sofuoglu is five points ahead of Lowes, and 17 points up on Donington third place rider, Jules Cluzel.

Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) found that the severe beating he took in a Monza crash last weekend had a real affect on him through the practice sessions at Donington. He still rode to good effect on raceday, posting seventh place after being hampered by other riders in the early laps.

Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step Racing) suffered a head knock in practice but pluckily rode on to finish tenth and score points enough to only drop him one championship position, to fourth overall. He is now 26 points off the lead just over one race win's worth of points.

Kenan Sofuoglu: "In the beginning of the weekend I was finding it a little difficult but all weekend we have worked well to find a good set-up and we did not so bad for the race. In the early part I really tried to follow Sam and Jules. Near the end I tried to attack Sam again but I saw he was too fast and maybe I would crash if I tried any more. I thought then that maybe I just had to take a second position and finish the race. To win world championships you have to get on the podium every time and make every race very strong. I am quite happy to be leading the championship still."

Sheridan Morais: "I had a big crash at Monza and that affected me quite a lot. I have been to the Clinica Mobile and they have been sorting me out, and that has helped a lot. I just get really tired. It did not get as bad as thought I might in the race so I was happy with that. Sixth is not where I wanted to be but I am happy with a nice solid result. I have had so much bad luck this was a nice one. I came from quite far back because I got boxed in at the start but I managed to pass some guys and pull out a gap to the riders behind. It is nice to have this solid base now, so for the next ones I can start fighting a bit again."

Fabien Foret: "I feel a little bit tired because I hit my head pretty hard when I fell in practice. Since then I lost a bit of confidence in a track that has always been a bit like that. I will be happy to go home after three hard rounds and move on again at Misano. After round two and leading by 20 points I leave round five in fourth place, so it has been a bit tough recently. But I am also tough so I will come back."

More, from a press release issued by Marks Bloom Racing:

Donington disappointment for Kneen

Dan Kneen was back in action at the weekend competing in rounds 4 and 5 of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship at Donington Park but it proved to be a disappointing weekend for the Marks Bloom Racing rider. The Manxman was running inside the top 15 in both of the races held around the 2.5-mile circuit and was looking good to score points on both occasions only to be forced to retire on each occasion.

The weekend started well for Dan though as he posted the 17th fastest time in opening qualifying on his GSXR1000 Suzuki and he lapped faster still in the final qualifying session late on Friday afternoon. However, changes to the gearing didn't improve the bike as much as he would have liked and, having slipped back to 22nd on the grid, he reverted back to his initial settings for Sunday's two races.

Unfortunately, Dan got knocked off in the morning warm-up by another rider and although he was uninjured, the team had less than an hour to get the bike repaired and scrutineered in time for the first 12-lap affair. They managed it with seconds to spare and although it meant Dan had to take to the track with tyres not fully up to temperature, another great start saw him inside the top 15. However, having to exceed caution in the early laps, he dropped back to 19th and then to 25th after an off track excursion. He fought his way back up to 20th but was forced to retire on the 8th lap with the tyres still not giving him the grip required.

Another good start in the second race saw him leap up to 16th and by lap 6 he was up to 13th, running strongly and very much in contention for some Championship points. However, Josh Day relegated him back to 14th and then another rider pushed him onto the gravel at the Esses bringing his race to an early end as, with no chance of scoring points, he pulled into the pits soon after.

Speaking later, Dan said; "It's just been one of those weekends where things have gone against us and situations out of my control have intervened. Practice and qualifying went reasonably well and I found out what worked and what didn't work with the bike so felt confident of socring some points but race day was pretty much ruined when I got knocked off in morning warm-up. With such little time before the first race, we struggled to get the bike repaired and it was all of a bit of a rush. The tyres weren't up to temperature nor at the right pressure and although the race started reasonably well, I wasn't able to push anywhere near as hard as I would have liked."

"I got a good start in the second race and was running strongly inside the points, making up a lot of time on the brakes, but when I got pushed into the gravel it wasn't worth continuing. I've a lot of big races coming up in the next few weeks so I opted to pull in and concentrate on getting the bike ready for next week. We're definitely heading in the right direction compared to where we were a few weeks ago but we still need to work a bit more on the suspension and if we can get that properly sorted, we'll be a lot better off. Let's hope for some good weather in Ireland and some better fortune so we can get the results the whole team deserves."

Dan now heads to Northern Ireland for the first road race of the season, the International North West 200. Practice takes place around the 8.9-mile circuit on Tuesday and Thursday with races taking place on both Thursday evening and Saturday.
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