Sykes explains red flag crash, upset by ‘extremely harsh’ penalty

Tom Sykes opens up on his post-red flag crash in the Superpole Race which cost him a podium result and denied him a shot at victory in race two.
Sykes explains red flag crash, upset by ‘extremely harsh’ penalty

Tom Sykes has given more context to the circumstances of his post-red flag crash in the Superpole Race, which cost him a podium result and denied him a shot at victory in race two.

Sykes was in a fierce battle for victory with Jonathan Rea when the red flag was shown in the wake of a series of crashes caused by oil on the circuit at the Melbourne Loop, ironically by the expiring S1000RR of his BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team-mate Peter Hickman.

The BMW rider would have been classified second but folded the front of the S1000RR during the cool down lap as he toured back to the pits.

With the S1000RR barrelling through the gravel trap, Sykes had no chance to remount and recover back to the parc ferme in the five minutes allotted time, prompting officials to declare him as a DNF.

For Sykes – who was then forced start tenth in the second race – it was a cruel outcome which he felt could have been handled differently in the circumstances as he was distracted by the activity on track as he came over the unsighted crest before the hairpin.

“It certainly was an unlucky day. When we came over the hilltop into Melbourne Loop after the red flag, there was a parked car right at the edge of the tarmac, riders, bikes and marshals, so I looked up just to try and understand if someone was coming on track.

“Then I hit the oil, Jonathan [Rea] nearly crashed and I unfortunately did. What happened unfortunately completely changed the dynamic of the day and of the long race. Starting from tenth, I struggled as I would have needed some clear air.

“So the performance was certainly compromised in today’s race today. It’s a shame because we definitely had the pace for the podium. Yes, I’m disappointed but with the form we have shown this weekend, we still have a lot of positives to take away.”

Team boss Shaun Muir was also disappointed with the ‘extremely harsh’ result but accepted by the letter of rule there is no comeback in this instance.

“The rule book went against us in the Superpole Race. Tom did everything right. He had a good strong pace and it was only really between him and Jonathan to battle for the win in the sprint race. To be penalised with the five-minute return-pit-lane rule we felt was extremely harsh considering all the circumstances.

“However, there is nothing in the rule book that would have allowed any different outcome to that. Tom could not get the bike back to the paddock, it could not have been moved within the five-minute period stipulated in the rule book and so we must accept the outcome as harsh as it is.”