News 15 May 2016

Hayden scores breakthrough WorldSBK win at Sepang

Masterful West charges to fifth in rain-soaked second race.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Honda World Superbike Team rider Nicky Hayden crossed the line in Sepang on Sunday to take his first-ever win in World Superbike.

The American, a rookie in the class, took off from the pack in a supreme display of speed and control in difficult conditions. Ducati’s Davide Giugliano came home second after a late charge, ahead of reigning champion Jonathan Rea.

“I’m really happy for this win,” Hayden said. “Last night I was so frustrated that my crew chief asked me if I was okay and told me not to give up. I told him not to worry and that I was just a bit of a sore loser.

“This morning in the dry we had good pace and great potential. When it started raining I knew I had to go for it – I’m definitely not in the championship fight and that meant I could risk a bit more.

“It’s been a few dry years but I never stopped trying – to get a win at this point in my career in Superbike is truly amazing.”

Sunday in Sepang saw sun replaced by rain as a downpour hit the circuit just before the WorldSSP race was due to start, causing it to be postponed until after WorldSBK.

While Hayden controlled the race out front after taking the lead early on, Pedercini Kawasaki’s Anthony West put on a charge from 11th on the grid.

West, on debut in WorldSBK as a replacement for Sylvain Barrier, made his way inside the top five and that’s where he’d stay, finishing fifth much to the delight of the Italian squad.

All three Australians in the race scored points as West was fifth, Josh Brookes 12th on the Milwaukee BMW and Josh Hook 15th for Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki.

Team Lorini Honda substitute Ayrton Badovini fended off local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin for the World Supersport victory, with Gino Rea joining them on the podium.

It was an entertaining fight for victory at the front, while Australian duo Aiden Wagner and Lachlan Epis crossed the finish line in 16th and 19th positions respectively.