‘Doningtom Park’, as some have called Donington Park in the recent past, was nothing like the most rewarding circuit for Tom Sykes (KRT) this year. Nine wins from the previous ten races at his home venue became a third and a sixth this year, even after Sykes has already won a front-running race in 2018, at Assen.
Not using the bigger rolling diameter rear Pirelli tyre option in race two, unlike most of the top competitors, cost Sykes dear. It had not even been tried out in Sunday morning warm-up.
“I think we potentially missed out with that tyre,” said Sykes. “Here at Donington I know where to be fast and it was terrible today because I could not just open the throttle and hold it like I could in the past, so clearly the bike set-up needs to be adjusted.”
Sykes explained why they did not opt for the bigger tyre in race two.
“The plan was to maybe try it this morning in warm up but we did not do, and to swap it for the race is a big gamble,” said Sykes. “So it is strange. I did some good lap times in warm-up this morning but on the limit with the wind. I just could not turn the bike and this afternoon the wind was stronger but just the tyre did not stay consistent at all.
“When I look at the guys in front of me, on the bigger tyre they had, I think it is clear to say that there was some advantage to be had in the bigger tyre. But we have not used it yet so we did not have the information. We lost pace compared to those guys.”
Sykes, despite his obvious annoyance at how things went in race two, praised his rivals. “Van der Mark has done an incredible job and so did Toprak coming through; he rode great,” said Sykes, with one caveat for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad. “Toprak has done a fantastic second race here at Donington and for sure it was a stand-out performance for him, and they have done an incredible job. They need to do it because he has the same package as me and Jonathan.”
It was hardly Kawasaki domination of the Donington weekend, as we could have expected compared to recent history.
“A mixed bag today and a different result to what I was expecting,” said Sykes. “I really thought as well if I wasn’t there certainly Jonathan would be there, but again he has had probably not his best weekend either. So there is definitely something to look into – and move on.”
Race two was almost the usual battle from the third row for Sykes, and his fellow race one podium riders, VDM and Rea. “It was tight at the beginning and I had a good start,” said Sykes. “I was just moving alongside Loris and then he pulled to the right, really, and hit my handlebar. Then Jonathan came past and hit my other handlebar. I had a good initial launch, and then lost all my advantage.
“I had a good early battle and some good overtakes, so I enjoyed that moment, but there is disappointment because as soon as I started to try to open the power and use the bike to exit the corner I was sliding the tyre. I am disappointed not only for me but for my family and friends who were here and I am capable of much, much more. I am disappointed that I did not have the package underneath me.”