TOM SYKES and Atsushi Watanabe both finished in uncharacteristic positions today following a tough wet session on track at Donington Park, ahead of round four of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with Sykes 13th and Watanabe 22nd.
The wet weather arrived just in time for the singular 50-minute qualifying session following a dry free practice this morning, where Sykes was running in an encouraging second place.
The Rizla Suzuki technicians worked on the chassis on both bikes to accommodate the tricky conditions; however Sykes was struggling for rear grip. Towards the end of the session he suffered a small crash at Coppice corner but walked away unhurt, unfortunately there was insufficient time left in the session for him to return to the track.
Atsu, who is still getting to grips with the 2.5 mile GP circuit, had similar concerns to his team-mate. He also fell at Coppice with just eight minutes of the session to go. He had been progressing up the time sheets until this happened.
Race one takes place on Monday 26th May at 1300 with race two at 1530. Live coverage of race day can be seen on Eurosport 2 from 1230 to 1630, a one hour highlights show will also broadcast on Eurosport 2 from 2045 to 2145.
Tom: I know in the dry we can be competitive but it will be hard work as Im starting from the fourth row of the grid. My Rizla Suzuki has felt good all weekend and Donington is a circuit I enjoy so Im hoping we can pull something out of the bag tomorrow.
Atsu: Im not so happy with today. I have seen the DVD of Donington Park and lots of riders crashed in wet conditions, now Im one of those riders. I like the track and I will work hard to get a result for my team. I dont want to be in 22nd place that is not for me.
Jack Valentine, Team Manager Rizla Suzuki: It was a good day until the rain came. We had a very productive free practice three with Tom in second place just 0.486secs off pole and we were hoping for the same in qualifying. We struggled for set-up in the wet conditions and both our riders suffered crashes in the slippery conditions. We have more work to do if it does rain tomorrow as we need to find more rear grip. We will make some changes for warm-up and go from there. If it is dry we have good settings and can run at the front.
1: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:46.639
2: James Ellison (Honda) +1.048
3: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +1.462
4: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +1.626
5: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) +1.628
6: Scott Smart (Kawasaki) +1.970
7: Leon Haslam (Honda) +2.190
8: Leon Camier (Ducati) +2.384
9: Gary Mason (Honda) +2.611
10: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +2.699
13: TOM SYKES (RIZLA SUZUKI) +3.276
22: ATSUSHI WATANABE (RIZLA SUZUKI) +5.810