2013 Laguna Seca World Superbike Race One Results: Third Time The Charm

World Superbike at Laguna Seca was always going to be unusual, with a race on Saturday and the other a day later on Sunday. How unusual exactly was not expected. The bikes were finally wheeled into scrutineering over two hours after they were first put out on the grid.

The 26-lap race started with Sylvain Guintoli getting the hole shot, heading into the Andretti hairpin first, with Tom Sykes and the BMW pairing of Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies behind him. As the laps were ticked off, Davies looked like the only rider able to cleanly pass anyone on a track with only one line, passing Melandri, then Sykes, only to have Sykes pass him again. Six laps in, Danny Eslick crashed out, hitting an air fence and walking away unhurt.

Unfortunately, the air fence didn’t survive as well as Eslick, with heated bike metal, melting a hole in it, reducing its ability to absorb impact. As the track was no longer safe, the red flags came out.

The 20-lap race started, again, with Sylvain Guintoli getting the hole shot, followed by Sykes, Melandri, Eugene Laverty and Davies in what looked like a carbon copy of the first start. The front six riders once again, with Davide Giugliano at the back of the pack, broke away, with Chaz Davies demonstrating again that he was the only rider with passing lines. As Marco Melandri had a tank slapper at the bottom of the corkscrew, Davies was able to pass him, and start to chase down Guintoli and Sykes, who were gifted a gap thanks to the fighting behind them.

Then, Niccolo Canepa, the surprise rider of the weekend, had a crash, followed by Leon Haslam then Roger Lee Hayden. The red flags came out again. Canepa and Hayden walked away, but Haslam limped off and went to the medical centre.

The 12-lap race started, again, with Sylvain Guintoli getting less of a good start, allowing Tom Sykes to have a go past him, but it failed and set them both of the line, inviting Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri, men who don’t need need much of an invitation at the best of times, to take the lead. Davies led the race and looked like he could lead the race comfortably, but he was unable to break away to gap the riders behind him.

As the same six riders from the first two race starts set off as a pack, Tom Sykes setting the fastest lap with a 1’23.803, Sylvain Guintoli tried a pass on Marco Melandri at the end of lap three, into the last corner, but Melandri just ignored him and hit the apex as usual, forcing Guintoli to scrub a lot of speed, allowing Sykes to pass him.

It looked for a while like nobody would be able to pass anyone without forcing mistakes, with Melandri trying to pass Davies on the outside of the run up to the hill crest before the photogenic corkscrew, but he couldn’t make it work. Then, at half race distance, Sykes pushed cleanly past Melandri and all bets were off.

Third-placed Sylvain Guintoli and fourth-placed Marco Melandri swapped places to and fro, giving Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes a bit of breathing space to try to develop a gap, but instead, Sykes used the gap to build a pass that took half a lap of planning, taking a slightly different line to give him drive at different places to the usual lap, and ended with a clean overtake. As Davies started to form a plan to pass, he was set upon by a resurgent Melandri and switched to a defensive tack. Behind the BMWs, the Aprilias were having a reorganisation of their own, with team orders definitely off the table. Eugene Laverty past Sylvain Guintoli and set his sights on Melandri in front while Melandri tried to pass Davies.

The last lap started with the BMWs fighting each other and the Aprilias doing the same, with Melandri passing Davies only to be passed back, all the time while Sykes made a run for the flag. As Melandri entered the corkscrew, Laverty took a different line. The line was reminiscent of Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez, hitting the spot inside the kerb on 8b, the second corner and stealing third place. Guintoli, back in fifth place, was left to fend off Davide Giugliano as his rival Tom Sykes won the race and extended his title lead.

With the first two race starts showing that Sylvain Guintoli had an advantage, the third race was a blessing for Tom Sykes, tasting champagne after race one, thanks to the unusual schedule, for the first time in his career. 


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Gap Speed
1 66 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R   1'23.803 255,8
2 19 C. DAVIES BMW S1000 RR 1.253 1'23.852 251,6
3 58 E. LAVERTY Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.454 1'23.814 255,2
4 33 M. MELANDRI BMW S1000 RR 2.650 1'23.819 251,0
5 50 S. GUINTOLI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3.430 1'23.829 255,2
6 34 D. GIUGLIANO Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3.584 1'23.893 256,4
7 16 J. CLUZEL Suzuki GSX-R1000 9.134 1'24.225 248,1
8 24 T. ELIAS Aprilia RSV4 Factory 11.252 1'24.162 249,8
9 86 A. BADOVINI Ducati 1199 Panigale R 14.140 1'24.334 248,7
10 8 M. AITCHISON Kawasaki ZX-10R 17.830 1'25.008 244,1
11 44 D. SALOM Kawasaki ZX-10R 18.010 1'25.052 245,2
12 79 B. YOUNG Suzuki GSX-R1000 21.767 1'25.269 246,9
13 84 M. FABRIZIO Honda CBR1000RR 22.087 1'25.291 244,7
14 23 F. SANDI Kawasaki ZX-10R 32.837 1'25.947 239,7
15 31 V. IANNUZZO BMW S1000 RR 34.267 1'26.676 242,4
16 14 G. ALLERTON BMW S1000 RR 50.167 1'27.748 236,5


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is the most exciting track - and they are dropping it.

Ok, I'm a Guintoli fan, but really... that's bad luck. He had a nice two seconds lead in the first race, and he was controlling the second race too... Bad third start, and then the battle with Melandri really costed him. Guinthers doesn't like taking risks, and suddenly he has to overtake three guys in less than ten laps, at Laguna Seca !... He was doing everything right, and now he lost 14 points... hope he can bounce back, a lot can still happen in the championship ! Great effort by Sykes though, getting faster and faster for every start...

Guintoli was really unlucky with the 3rd start :O(
Also, Sykes had the chance to tweek his bike, effectively having 2 more test sessions. Guintoli wouldn't have wanted to change his bike as it was working well enough to be clearly leading...
Sykes wants to thank his fairy godmother, BIG time.

(why aren't there spare sections of airfence to replace damaged sections immediately?)

This is rather annoying, that every time somebody crashes into the air fence, the race has to be red-flagged to repair it. Either they make those fences stronger, or they find a way to repair/replace them quicker.

By the way, I have the impression that Sykes is often rather lucky with red-flagged races. Like last year at Portimao, where he was falling back through the field while Biaggi was riding away at the front, and then the race was stopped, giving him the chance to change his bike.

Man, this time luck definitely was not on the side of Guintoli. Being in the lead three times (Superpole, race part 1 and 2) and then ending up with fifth. He'll be looking for revenge today... Good luck to him!

Sorry but I'll never forget Monza 2012 where Sykes put his Balls where no-one else dared, and then got awarded half points which... how many did Biaggi win the championship by? Oh yeah half a point.

So please don't treat Sykes like only good luck happens to him. Karma owes him Big.