Tom up to second in title race while Atsu scores season best
RIZLA SUZUKI'S Tom Sykes took two well-earned second places in today's ninth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire to move up to second overall in the title chase while his team mate Atsushi Watanabe took a ninth and followed it with a season best seventh.
Tom led for two-thirds of the opening race and posted the fastest lap before being out-braked at the end of the straight on lap 10 as he took a tear-off from his visor. He remained in contention for the win right until the end but was just beaten to the chequered flag at the 2.18-mile picturesque track by Honda's Leon Haslam. Atsu started from eighth on the grid and impressed to record ninth in warm sunshine.
In the second shortened race Tom again led from the front, completing seven laps before being passed by Haslam. The pair fought to the end but no opportunity to pass meant Tom had to settle for second and move up from third to second in the Championship standings. Atsu got a stronger start and battled through to take seventh place, his best result of the season.
Tom and Rizla Suzuki are back in action again on September 7th at the 11th round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park in Leicestershire as a wild-card entry. After that he will be joined by Atsu at the 10th round of the British Superbike Championship at Croft on Sunday, September 14th.
Tom: "In the first race I was passed and then lost a few tenths when the front wheel slid at the hairpin. There weren't enough laps left to catch it back again. In the second race Leon got past me cleanly and then we had a hard fight right to the end but it is very tight and narrow around Cadwell Park and I didn't want to risk a dangerous overtake and ended up second again.
"It's a good double rostrum for Rizla Suzuki, although I would have liked to have won a race to say thank you to the team for all its efforts. Second in the title race is what we want and from here on in I'll be getting my finger out to bring home more silverware. We all want more race wins."
Atsu: "Race two I enjoy fight with Karl Harris and Michael Laverty. My Rizla Suzuki is performing very well and the engine braking and throttle response gives me much confidence. Passing Michael was difficult as his Suzuki has similar speed but I really wanted good result.
"Cadwell Park is track I like, although the Mountain is still scary. I feel that my Rizla Suzuki is better than ever and I am now looking forward to the rest of the season, I cannot wait for Croft."
Jack Valentine, Rizla Suzuki Team Manager: "A pair of second places is a good result for Tom and the Rizla Suzuki squad - well done to them all. We harboured hopes for wins but Cadwell Park is a tough place to make overtakes - but we have all enjoyed fighting at the front for the top honours.
"Atsu has proved a point this round by conquering the hardest circuit on the BSB calendar and taking his best result so far and quite a few good scalps in the process. He has found confidence in his Rizla Suzuki and is riding like a different man compared to earlier in the year, he is showing his talent and we like what we see.
"It's off to World Championship duty for Tom and Rizla Suzuki in a fortnight and we want to be challenging for the podium if possible. The GSX-R1000 is right on the money and so is Tom - the fans really helped us at Brands earlier in the month and I hope they'll come and show their support again at Donington."
Race One Results:
1: Leon Haslam (Honda) 26:42.195
Race Two Results:
1: Haslam 22:11.771
Championship Positions (after nine of 12 rounds)
1: Byrne 364