British rivals sympathise with Sykes after red flag debacle

“It is what it is, rules are rules - I feel bad for Tom because he had an awesome race" - Jonathan Rea sympathises with Tom Sykes after red flag furore in Superpole Race.
British rivals sympathise with Sykes after red flag debacle

Tom Sykes’ rivals have expressed their sympathy towards his plight following his controversial elimination from the Superpole Race results when he crashed after the race was declared as over due to a red flag.

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK rider was set for a second-place finish behind Jonathan Rea when the Superpole Race was red flagged on lap seven due to oil being dropped in the braking zone for the Melbourne Loop hairpin, taking down four bikes at the tail end of the field.

However, on the next lap round, a touring Sykes struck the oil and folded the front of his bike sending it into the gravel trap. With the Briton unable to get back to parc ferme with the BMW S1000RR, organisers removed him from the results and declared him as a DNF.

Prompting an angry response from Sykes himself – not least because he says marshals were on track at the time with vehicles he could have struck – the ruling won him sympathy from Leon Haslam, Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes, even if they accept the letter of the rule as it stands today. (CLICK FOR FULL PHOTO SEQUENCE OF INCIDENT)

“Everybody hit the oil, some saved, some crashed,” said Haslam. “That’s what the rules say.

"It doesn’t matter if there weren’t flags, if you don’t get your bike back you aren’t in the results! Someone could run on and nick your bike if you don’t get your bike back,” he joked.

“It’s unfortunate, Tom deserved second, he was riding well but the rules are that. It was clear, there were flags [red] all the way in and people on the floor so there was obviously an issue, we just didn’t know wat the issue was. But the red flag had been out for 75% of that lap so we weren’t pushing. It’s over a crest, it is no-one’s fault. Just one of those things.

Rea, who was very nearly caught out himself after having to get his foot down to stop himself when he ran on under braking, says he brought he matter up with Race Direction.

“It is what it is, rules are rules,” he added. “I feel bad for Tom because he had an awesome race and after the red flag to be caught out with oil… I must admit I didn’t see oil flags until the braking marker going into the corner. Into the chicane, I didn’t see any.

“I spoke to Race Direction about it because it was a surprise to arrive in that part of the track, from my point of view I was very lucky to stay upright, I had to dab my foot to stay upright. Tom was in no-man’s land, there was so much oil, I was lucky.”

Lowes, meanwhile, sided with Sykes on the matter, saying ‘common sense’ to move the riders away from where the spill had occurred would have been sufficient.

“I understand it now after the team explained it to me. I didn’t understand because he didn’t crash in a live race, so if your bike runs out of fuel you don’t get it back?

“Tom’s done a great race. I won’t say anything negative about the marshals because I really appreciate their hard work and support so we can race but there wasn’t enough guidance, you can’t see the oil

“We could have had someone pushing [us] to the inside of the track because Tom was going slow but still fell and Jonathan nearly crashed. A little bit of common sense wouldn’t have been a bad thing.”