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The French Revolution . . .

SBK Silverstone, Great Britain, 5th August 2012

Words: Laura Bradley
Pics: simon bradley and Richard Handley

Leon Camier and the Fixi Crescent Suzuki finally seemed to have sorted their problems and got things working properly...This is our second year at the newly reformed Silverstone, but the beautiful sunshine sadly didn’t stick around and, in a typical World Superbikes 2012 fashion, it rained a lot. However, this still wasn’t a simple wet or dry decision as the patchy conditions once again made it difficult for teams and riders to make tyre choices. This meant that there would be some interesting results and the weekend was completely unpredictable.

Qualifying had Baz going fastest in the first session, but Guintoli went fastest with thirty-nine minutes to go with Checa in second. Smrz then went fastest with half the session left, but Guintoli took it back. Checa out did them all with twenty-three minutes left with Berger in second and Sykes in third, Haslam slotting into fifth behind Guintoli. Camier then showed just how good the Suzuki can be and set a time for second place. Badovini and Baz both went faster than Haslam and Guintoli, Canepa and Camier all overtook Checa’s top time. Rea then followed suit into fourth place with Smrz going faster than them all and going into fourth. Checa soon regained first but Sykes took the overall top spot of the session with twelve minutes to go, leaving the results of the first qualifying as Sykes, Checa, Guintoli and Camier making up the first front row set up of the weekend.

The second session started badly for Chaz Davies as he had a technical problem with his bike on turn six of the first lap, entering the pits and retiring from the session. However, he did managed to get into superpole with his time from the first session. Giugliano hit the gravel on the Saturday session with Rea following suit, both re-joining but then Giugliano did the same again. The rain then started to pour with fifteen minutes left of the session, but everybody managed to stay on their bikes. Sykes dominated the session as fastest with Hopkins surprising everybody by qualifying in second place. Melandri came in third followed by Camier in fourth.

This left the superpole entry list as Sykes, Hopkins, Melandri, Camier, Checa, Guntoli, Baz, Berger, Laverty, Smrz, Fabrizio, Giugliano, Haslam, Rea, Davies and Biaggi.

Jakub Smrz took pole by the smallest of margins in the dying seconds of the session...Superpole was announced as a wet session, meaning there would be two timed sessions rather than three. The first session saw Camier get the fastest time at first with Melandri, Giugliano, Fabrizio, Haslam and Rea all slotting in behind. Smrz overtook Camier’s time with Checa then beating Smrz. Baz then went faster with Checa. Davies had a technical problem with thirteen minutes left, but re-joined to still make an attempt for the front row. Camier took the fastest time again with twelve minutes left, Baz going into second and Melandri third with Checa fourth. Smrz, however, wasn’t happy with that and re-took provisional pole. Fabrizio crashed at turn sixteen, walking away but damaging his bike. Baz then set the fastest time with Checa getting into third place ahead of Camier. Smrz went fastest again with just under ten minutes to go but Baz took the top spot straight back, but then crashed at turn eight with not much time left of the session and wrote off his bike. Checa then was fastest with Smrz in second, Baz was still third but the bike was in too bad of a state to be able to get fixed for the next session. Melandri ran off track, as did Smrz before the end of the session, both re-joining. Guintoli put in a time for second place with Camier going into fourth and Sykes fifth. So at the end of the session the riders going into the final shoot out were Checa, Giugliano, Guintoli, Smrz, Melandri, Camier, Sykes and Haslam. Baz, Rea, Biaggi, Hopkins, Berger, Laverty, Fabrizio and Davies were all knocked out.

The second session started with Camier setting the fastest time with Checa in second and Guintoli third. Giugliano then set a time for second place and Checa took pole, which was short lived as Camier then took it back. Giugliano set the fastest time with eleven minutes to go, as Sykes crashed out of fourth, walking away but not happy. Smrz then took fourth with Guintoli fifth. The slippery track then saw Checa crash, then Giugliano. Haslam slotted into fourth place with Camier on pole with two minutes left of the session. Smrz was in third and Haslam then went fastest in the last minute, with Camier just taking it back. It looked like Camier had pole but, as the flag went down, Smrz just crept in front and ended up with that top spot on the grid. This left the front row results as Smrz, Camier, Guintoli and Haslam. The second row was Giugliano, Melandri, Checa and Sykes.

Race 1, Lap 1. It's a bit crowded as Sykes leads Camier and Checa. But Baz (78) is about to do something reckless...Race One was, to say the least, insane. I have to apologise in advance for any confusion in this report, as it all happened at once and I’m still not wholly persuaded that it actually happened. It started with Haslam taking the lead from the first corner, Smrz taking Second and Sykes third. Melandri was just about fourth, with Camier having started in second on the grid but dropping to ninth. Sykes and Melandri overtook Smrz and the rain started in sector five. The red flag immediately came out with downpour, but sadly the crashes still happened. Johnson highsided hard in front of Brignola, who  crashed into the wreckage of the Kawasaki. Both ended up being taken to the medical centre. Smrz  got collected by a crashing Berger at the final chicane. They were fine but the bikes needed a rush back to the pits for repairs before the re-start. Giugliano had a lucky escape when the Effenbert bikes crashed, running across the grass  but staying on the bike despite being hit by the crashing pair. Technically unhurt, he had to ice pack his hand on the grid waiting for the restart.

The race re-started, but without Johnson and Brignola who were both injured. Camier made a better start as Checa took the lead through the first corner with the rest of the pack all huddled up still. Haslam was second with Sykes third, Biaggi fourth and Camier fifth. Rea ran onto the gravel but re-joined at the back while Camier overtook Biaggi into third place. Baz suddenly got ahead of Sykes and Laverty was also up there. Sykes overtook Baz again and Checa, with Baz also overtaking the current world champion. Camier gave Checa a run for his money for third place, and Checa overtook Baz on the run down Vale. Baz then came through on the final chicane, going for a non-existent gap and pushing Checa into the unfortunate Camier. Checa and Camier did well to stay on but both ended up further down the field. This left the standings by lap two as Sykes, Haslam, Baz, Laverty, Biaggi, Checa, Berger, Zanetti and Camier. Haslam overtook Sykes into third, with Baz also overtaking. Biaggi and Checa also both overtook Laverty. By lap three the top thirteen were still ridiculously close, all within point three of a second of each other. Camier passed Laverty, they touched but both stayed on and Laverty overtook him back. Checa then went on to overtake Biaggi and Sykes into third place. So, by lap five the standings were Haslam, Baz, Checa, Sykes, Camier, Biaggi, Laverty, Fabrizio, Rea, Melandri, Berger and Zanetti, all of them still close. Biaggi tried to overtake Camier but failed, and Camier went to overtake Sykes but just missed. Checa soon overtook Haslam into first place, with Baz in third and Camier having worked his way to fourth after overtaking Sykes. Camier, Sykes and Biaggi then all overtook Baz. Checa started to make a gap by lap seven and Biaggi, Sykes and Baz all overtook Camier. Sykes also overtook Haslam, leaving the standings by lap eight as Checa, Sykes, Haslam, Biaggi, Baz, Camier and Laverty. Camier made an attempt to overtake Baz and succeeded to get fifth place. Due to poor tyre choice of full wets, Smrz and Guintoli were right at the very back of the grid and in danger of being lapped by lap nine, with Camier now ahead of Biaggi too. Melandri had worked his way up to just behind Biaggi. marshals posts around the circuit were reporting spots of rain by the end of the ninth lap, with Camier overtaking Haslam towards the start of lap ten.

The impossible about to happen. After a race of attrition, Loris Baz is about to take the chequered flag from...well, from everyone else!Baz and Melandri both soon overtook Biaggi and battled for fifth place, with Melandri taking it. This left the standings by lap eleven as Checa, Sykes, Haslam, Camier, Melandri and Baz. Camier then went on to overtake Haslam again with Hopkins having to retire with a technical problem at turn three. Haslam overtook Camier again on turn twelve, both of them overtaking Sykes but Sykes then taking Camier back. Checa suddenly dropped back as conditions abruptly deteriorated, relegated to third on lap thirteen as Haslam and Sykes both overtook him. He dropped furtherwith Sykes also dropping to fourth as Camier took second place and Baz followed suit into third. Fabrizio went on to overtake Sykes into fourth place, and the Crescent Fixi Suzuki hopes ended as Camier crashed out at the end of lap fifteen, walking away in disappointment. By lap sixteen the standings were Haslam, Baz, Badovini, Fabrizio, Checa, Rea, Sykes, Melandri, Biaggi, Laverty, Giugliano, Zanetti, Berger and Aoyama. Haslam and Badovini both had a wobble coming over the line into lap seventeen, with Baz in third and Checa fourth. Baz then overtook Haslam and Badovini, with Haslam suddenly dropping way down the pack to join Melandri. Fabrizio then took the lead coming into lap eighteen with Rea in second and Baz third. Biaggi crashed out of sixth place at turn five and Baz overtook Rea and Fabrizio into first place. Fabrizio tried to overtake him but was blocked off and Rea overtook Fabrizio, just to be overtaken back and to also have Badovini muscle in. Rea overtook Fabrizio back but Fabrizio ran wide, hit the wet Astroturf and had a huge highside as he crossed the line, with Rea hitting him and crashing too. However, as they both crossed the line in contact with their bikes then the results stood and they still finished in second and fourth.

So when the dust settled (literally),  this left Loris Baz taking his first World Superbikes win in his first season followed by Fabrizio, Badovini, Rea, Checa, Haslam, Melandri, Sykes, Giugliano and Laverty.

Early stages and the weather is merely disgusting. Guintoli and Smrz have already pulled a huge lead, presumably after the practice they got on wets in Race 1...Race Two had a delayed start again as the weather turned from sunshine through shower to something rather more substantial. It was announced as a wet race, meaning that regardless of what the weather did it would race from flag to flag, an extra warm up lap was added and a lap was omitted from the race itself. All the riders chose full rain tyres apart from Sykes, who chose an intermediate rear.

Guintoli took the lead from the first corner with Smrz and Laverty behind, they were all really close again though. Salom had to retire with a technical problem in the second lap at turn twelve, as Baz overtook Melandri into fourth place and Davies, Giugliano and Berger all overtook Haslam. Melandri suddenly dropped back through the pack, leaving Guingoli still in the lead by lap four with Smrz second and Baz third. Giugliano barged past Davies into fourth place with Laverty, Melandri, Berger, Camier and Hopkins behind. Guintoli and Smrz started to show that they planned to battle for first place, which was interesting as Guintoli had something to prove and Smrz had a job to stop him from proving it. Camier’s bike sadly broke and billowed smoke on this lap, retiring from the race. Berger overtook Laverty into sixth place on lap six, with Checa and Rea both overtaking Haslam into tenth and eleventh.

So, lap seven came and the flies started to drop, as Giugliano crashed at turn eighteen. Haslam then crashed on lap eight, re-joining at the back of the field. Baz overtook Smrz into second place, with Berger and Checa both having overtaken Davies into fifth and sixth. Rea crashed out, with Smrz following suit. This left Laverty in third place and all spectators questioning the safety of this race. On lap ten Baz was right on Guintoli’s tail, Checa crashed out and Berger did the same. Baz overtook Guintoli but then crashed, with Sykes also crashing and standing up to enthusiastically shout at the marshals to stop the race due to safety issues. The red flag was immediately put out and the race finished, leaving a provisional result as Guintoli, Baz and Laverty taking the top three.

However, due to the red flag and conditions the race was taken back a lap, and the final results were confirmed as Guintoli winning with Baz and Smrz finishing the podium. Laverty, Berger, Checa, Davies, Melandri, Rea and Hopkins finished the top ten. Due to the shortened race, all achieved points were halved.

Congratulations, by the way, to Jules Cluzel in the Supersport race, who took his first win of the season and beat his team-mate Sam Lowes into second place by just a tenth of a second in a last corner sprint to make it a French grand slam.

Russia next, we won’t be there in person but shall still keep you posted on all results.

Sylvain Guintoli definitely gets our man of the match award after a pretty spectacular performance... (Pic: Richard Handley)Race One

1 Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
2 Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
3 Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
4 Jonanthan Rea (Honda)
5 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
6 Leon Haslam (BMW)
7 Marco Melandri (BMW)
8 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
9 Davide Guigliano (Ducati)
10 Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)

Race Two

1 Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
2 Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
3 Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
4 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
5 Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
6 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
7 Chaz Davies (Aprilia)
8 Marco Melandri (BMW)
9 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
10 John Hopkins (Suzuki)

Championship Standing after ten rounds:

1 Max Biaggi 274
2 Marco Melandri 263.5
3 Tom Sykes 222.5
4 Carlos Checa 220.5
5 Jonathan Rea 203.5
6 Leon Haslam 170
7 Eugene Laverty 160.5
8 Sylvain Guintoli 122.5
9 Michel Fabrizio 108.5
10 Davide Giugliano 106

SB

 




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