Tough day at Donington for MCE Ducati

The MCE Ducati team endured a challenging opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Donington Park today with Tom Sykes finishing in 11th place and former double BSB champion Josh Brookes ending up in 13th position.

The duo enjoyed mixed fortunes across the free practice sessions and that meant both riders had to take part in the opening Q1 session although both duly lapped quicker than what they had done all weekend, finishing the session first and second to comfortably progress to the main Q2 session to set the grid for the opening eBay sprint race. 

It was Huddersfield-born Sykes who was the quicker in Q2, briefly running in third place, and although he ultimately had to settle for seventh, it was by far his best qualifying performance of the season on the factory-supported MCE Insurance Ducati Panigale V4R. For Australian Brookes though, it was a more challenging session and he finished in 16th which meant a sixth-row start.

Conditions remained good for the 20-lap race although a strong wind remained, and the first lap saw Tom and Josh slot into sixth and 16th respectively. The race proved to be a battle for both riders and although Tom held on to a top ten position for the first half of the race, he took the chequered flag in 11th. Josh, meanwhile, fought his way up to 13th for three hard-earned points.

Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati #66)
“We are making improvements in certain areas, which could be seen in qualifying and had it not been for a yellow flag costing me three tenths we could have been on the front row. The limitations we’ve had in previous rounds are still there and are ultimately holding me back. It’s really frustrating as I could see the leaders ahead of me but couldn’t go with them whilst having had previous success in the past at this circuit, it gives us more of a reference. We’re not able to show the potential of either myself, the bike, or the team at the moment but we’ll keep working hard to get to where we want to be.”

Josh Brookes (MCE Ducati #25)
“Certain aspects of today have been promising but others not so and after going well in Q1, I didn’t string the laps together in Q2 which ultimately compromised my grid position. I also suffered in the early stages of the race as there was something on my visor which was really distracting. I hadn’t done the helmet prep myself so removing the tear-offs didn’t alter the issue and I dropped back in the early laps. I got going a bit in the second half of the race but am still struggling for rear grip. We’ve been putting more weight on the rear to get better grip but have exhausted all those options now so need to maybe go the other way to see if we can improve and get a better feeling.”

Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator
“Qualifying went well for Tom and it was nice to see him higher up the grid and closer to where we need to be whilst Josh also strung some good laps together in Q1. However, the starting positions are still hurting us and whilst I’ve said it before, when you’re starting down the pack, you get mired in battles and can’t ride the bike the way it needs to be ridden. That, in turn, allows the quick guys at the front to get away so we need to improve. It’s disappointing to only score a handful of points but we’ll look to make changes for tomorrow’s races and get the boys higher up.”