Jonathan Rea was left with an overriding sense of disappointment after the Pata Honda rider was unable to challenge for the podium places at Misano in Italy.
Rea had been holding third place in the World Superbike Championship prior to the seventh round but has now slipped to fourth behind Kawasaki’s Loris Baz, whose team-mate Tom Sykes won both races to underscore his status as a hot favourite to retain his crown on the ZX-10R in 2014.
Ulster star Rea – who finished seventh and fifth at Misano – is now 52 points off the championship summit as his title challenge begins to falter and a downbeat Rea said he had made ‘zero progress’ with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP at the Italian circuit.
“It’s been a disappointing weekend for me because it feels like we’ve made zero progress here,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was frustrating to be unable to pinpoint and fix the problems we’ve had and, while I don’t want to sound like a broken record, I feel a bit like one with my comments in the garage.
“It’s been frustrating for the whole team because I know we haven’t been able to get the best out of the CBR this weekend.”
Sykes, who started from pole position, led from the end of the opening lap in race one and dictated matters from the front as he went on to win from Baz, with the Kawasaki pair a class above their rivals.
Marco Melandri finished in third on the Aprilia after an error on the opening lap dropped him as low as eighth position.
Ducati’s Chaz Davies was next with Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) and Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) the top six ahead of Rea.
Eugene Laverty bravely battled to ninth place on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki after feeling a bone ‘snap’ in his foot.
The Northern Ireland rider had suffered a fracture after a crash during a test on Suzuki’s MotoGP machine at Phillip Island and further aggravated he injury at Misano yesterday.
Laverty improved two places to take seventh in race two behind Elias after receiving medical attention.
Sykes was simply imperious in race two as he closed out a stunning brace to stretch his championship advantage to 39 points over Guintoli.
The Kawasaki rider was lying in second place in the early stages behind Davide Giugliano, who received an inevitable ride-through penalty after a jump-start.
Once Sykes moved into the lead, he was largely untroubled throughout the 21-lap race as he powered the Kawasaki to his sixth victory of the season, with team-mate Baz again taking the runner-up spot after holding off Aprilia pair Melandri and Guintoli.
Rea battled to fifth place from Elias after Chaz Davies crashed out on his Ducati.
Race 1 – 1 T Sykes (Kawasaki), 2 L Baz (Kawasaki), 3 M Melandri (Aprilia), 4 C Davies (Ducati), 5 S Guintoli (Aprilia), 6 T Elias (Aprilia).
Race 2 – T Sykes, 2 L Baz, 3 M Melandri, 4 S Guintoli, 5 J Rea (Honda), 6 T Elias.