REA GIFTS SYKES SECOND
Davies’ dominant double not enough to secure second from Sykes as Rea lets his team-mate pass
While the fight for the championship may have been all but over coming into Qatar, Chaz Davies’ five wins out of six races meant he had closed in on Tom Sykes for the runner-up spot.
However, another dominant double for the Welshman wasn’t enough this weekend after Jonathan Rea controversially gifted team-mate Sykes second in Sunday’s final race to ensure a Kawasaki 1-2 in the final standings.
Davies had every right to be furious about being relegated to third, but was almost resigned to it saying: “I saw it coming. I said to everybody before the race, ‘watch this, watch what is going to happen!’”
With Davies out front, Sykes needed the second place in the race if he was to retain the runner-up spot, but teammate Rea was on fire in the ten lap sprint after the initial start had been red flagged due to a blow up for local rider Al Sulaiti.
However, despite charging through to push Davies hard, Rea realised he couldn’t beat the Ducati and suddenly slowed down – allowing Sykes to catch up and pass him – even popping wheelies out of some corners in the middle of the lap.
Sykes, who was some way back, eventually passed him over the start finish line to secure second in the standings with Davies unable to do anything, despite having just taken his 11th win of the year.
Rea’s controversial move comes in spite of the divisions that have been evident in the Kawasaki garage, not just over the last two years, but even prior to his arrival in 2015.
Sykes has lost out on two world titles to team/manufacturer orders over the years. In 2012 Aprilia ensured Max Biaggi was given preferential treatment to beat Sykes by half a point and then again in 2014 when KRT rider Loris Baz helped the Yorkshireman in one race but not the other, meaning he’d lose the title to Baz’s fellow Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli.
However, Rea’s assistance in the second race came without any official order from the Kawasaki team, leaving Sykes with a new-found respect for the team-mate he’s struggled to get on with over the last two years.
“Of course there was conversation about it but there was no official order
in a written email to me or a contract,” said Rea. “I knew the maths. I am just really grateful to Kawasaki for the opportunity to ride this bike and they have been at a high level. Tom has been a key player in the development of the team and today was my time to play the team-mate.”
Sykes for his part, seemed genuinely touched that his rival would do such a thing as slow down to let him past.
“I was quite speechless when I saw this last lap,” he said from the podium. “I was quite emotional. Johnny and I stopped in turn one and I said to him that ‘this is the first time somebody has helped me like this – thank you very much.’ I have been on the receiving end of some crap in the past, and team orders, and have lost titles because of it.”
Davies, who grabbed a heap of points on Sykes after his race one win knew he was likely to be outnumbered by the men in green going into the final race, but was unable to hide his disappointment at how second place had been decided.
Davies said: “To be fair to Tom he put in a good first part of the race and he broke the other guys and really dug in. He has been on the receiving end of championship politics a couple of times so in all honesty he deserves to have the shoe on the other foot at least once. He lost the championship by half a point once before, Johnny gifted him the points that he needed here, so be it. I saw it coming a mile off!”
‘ There was no official order or contract. I just knew the maths’ JONATHAN REA
Rea and Sykes have had a fiery relationship in the past but that was all behind them on Sunday
Sykes has been a victim of team orders before but not this time