Tom Sykes took his first Bennetts British Superbike Championship victory since Brands Hatch in 2010 with the MCE Ducati rider leading from start to finish in the ebay sprint race at Donington Park on Saturday afternoon.
The 2013 World Superbike Champion put in the perfect ride to win by 1.4s from McAMS Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran with Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) getting the better of Bradley Ray (Rich Energy FHO BMW) for third on the final lap.
Ray’s teammate Kyle Ryde got the lead going into Redgate only for Sykes to take over on the exit and he led the field round at the completion of the opening lap followed by Ryde, Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW), Ray, Hickman and O’Halloran.
Sykes and Ryde edged away on the next lap, their advantage over new third placed rider Ray now just over a second but fourth to sixth remained the same with Tommy Bridewell, second in the championship, now up to eighth on the Oxford Products Ducati and one place behind fellow title hopeful Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing).
Ray moved up to second going into the Old Hairpin on lap four with O’Halloran going ahead of Hickman at the Melbourne Hairpin but Andrew Irwin ran wide going into Redgate at the start of the fifth lap and dropped back to sixth.
Sykes’ lead had stretched out to 0.950s as he started his sixth lap but whilst Ray was still in second, O’Halloran had moved up to third after diving up the inside of Ryde at Goddards. Ryde was now fourth ahead of Hickman and the regrouping Andrew Irwin.
Ryde dropped back to seventh next time around with Sykes’ lead still a second over Ray with O’Halloran a further six tenths of a second adrift. Hickman was still well in touch in fourth with Andrew and Glenn Irwin now occupying fifth and sixth respectively.
The lead was down to 0.7s starting the tenth lap with O’Halloran half a second behind in third whilst it was all bunching up behind with Hickman and the two Irwin brothers running nose to tail. However, Andrew Irwin’s strong ride ended when he ran into bike trouble on the 11th lap.
Sykes responded to Ray’s challenge and his lead was back up to 1.1s with three laps to go and although Ray brought it back down to 0.8s a lap later, his attentions were more on the closing O’Halloran and, indeed, the Australian moved up to second on the penultimate lap.
There was to be no touching Sykes though and he ran out victor by 1.4s from O’Halloran and at the final corner, Hickman moved ahead of Ray to take the final podium position although the latter was still able to extend his championship lead to 45 points.
Glenn Irwin took a close fifth with Jackson, Ryde, Bridewell, Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) and Ryan Vickers (FHO Racing BMW) completing the top ten.