Sykes and his team had to overcome the wet conditions that suddenly showed up on raceday morning with little time for preparations by his crew, but despite this Tom rode his Ninja ZX-10R with style in race one, only giving best to rain specialist Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Eventual champion Biaggi fell and no-scored in race one and gave Sykes an opportunity to win the title in race two.
Tom led with conviction and pace for the whole of race two, seeing off an early challenge from Eugene Laverty to record his fourth race victory of the season. Biaggi was fifth in race two and that was enough for the Italian rider to win his second world championship by only half a point.
Sykes, wearing a Joan Lascorz tribute helmet this weekend in honour of his injured team-mate, won the hearts of the crowd with his brilliant determination and spirit to be champion against the odds, having made up 30 points on Biaggi and only losing the chance of overall victory by half a point because of a quirk of the championship scoring rules.
Tom had known after winter testing that he would have the chance to challenge in 2012, but his and the entire team’s performance had exceeded all expectations. He has taken four wins, 13 podiums in total, nine pole positions and three fastest laps.
Loris Baz, Sykes’ team-mate had a tough home weekend, going tenth in race one then falling hard at high speed in race two. He was taken to hospital for tests afterwards but was later released, suffering just extensive bashes and bruises. He finishes his season as a replacement for the injured Joan Lascorz in 13th place, having only joined the series in Donington.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki rider Claudio Corti was ninth in race one, and then 12th in race two, strong results that put him 24th overall after only one round. His Magny-Cours team-mate Alexander Lundh had a heavy crash in practice and injured his T7 and T8 vertebra, although not seriously. He missed the Magny-Cours races as a result.
The title deciding Superstock 1000 FIM Cup race was held in wet conditions on Sunday morning and the race was won by Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki). Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) lost his outside chance of the world title when series leader Sylvain Barrier finished second and took enough points to win the crown. Staring was fifth in the race after falling early on and working his way back up, and fourth in the championship, one place behind Guarnoni. Leandro Mercado fell and no-scored today.
Tom Sykes: “We were on pole, took a new circuit record, got a podium and then a win and pulled back 30 points on Max Biaggi. Not easy against a rider of his level. Yes, obviously there is a massive disappointment on one hand because we were only half a point from the world championship! But on the other hand, being realistic, we are very happy and we have - by far - overachieved on expectations this year. We have been very strong and I think this weekend we have been particularly strong; partly because of this Joan Lascorz replica helmet I am wearing. I have had massive support here from my family, friends and the Kawasaki fans so to sum up my year it has been fantastic. I really appreciate that Kawasaki, Provec; all the team our sponsors, Motocard, Leo Vince and all of them have put us in the situation of fighting for the world championship. Hopefully next year we can be very consistent from the start.”
Loris Baz: “It was not the kind of home race weekend I wanted but we got a bit unlucky when we lost some track time early in practice. I got sick on Saturday as well so it was not easy to ride but felt a bit better today. I started off confident to have a good result in the wet race one but I just did not have the same feeling as I had in warm-up. Had I not run-on I think I had the pace for about seventh or eighth. Following Max in race two I just hit a slippery patch and had a very big highside crash. I had a bad pain in my back and ribs but nothing was broken and then I developed a sore head. We went to hospital for tests just to check but everything is OK. We have some testing on the bike again soon so it is good to not have any injuries and although I am not 100% fit right now, I will be OK for testing which will really help our preparations for next year.”