Superbikes - Sepang WSBK: Melandri wins race one as Sykes crashes

Aprilia’s Marco Melandri took his first World Superbike victory of the year at the Malaysian circuit of Sepang, and successfully held off the charge of his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli to take the win.

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Superbikes - Sepang WSBK: Melandri wins race one as Sykes crashes
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Sepang WSBK: Melandri wins race one, as Sykes crashes

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes did have a great start and was one of the favourites for the victory, but crashed on the first lap. The reigning champ was unable to remount and missed out on some valuable points.

In the beginning it was Guintoli who took the lead at turn one, but there was a tangle of bikes bringing out the yellow flags when Kawasaki’s Loris Baz clipped the machine of his team-mate Sykes, with Huddersfield’s finest taking Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes with him on turn 2. All three riders fell, but hobbled away – ending their chances of a podium before they even completed the first rotation.

Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea managed to avoid the pile-up but even though he stayed on his bike went wide and slipped down to 16th. Elsewhere at the top of the field Guintoli was able to plough on ahead with Elias Davies and Melandri close behind.

On the third lap Melandri got the better of his former BMW team-mat Davies to go into second, with the three most experienced riders dominating the opening stages. Voltcom Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty slowly began to creep up on the Ducati of Davies going into fifth, followed by Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam with 13 laps remaining.

On lap six Rea made up ten places, and was eighth, just behind Ducati’s Davide Giugliano. The Italian had the Northern Irishman’s team-mate as his target, as he began to close the gap on Haslam for sixth place. Meanwhile Welshman Davies got the better of Elias on the back straight to go into third on lap seven.

While all the action happened further down the grid, Guintoli was locked in a fight with his more diminutive team-mate Melandri and the pair had a five second lead from Davies by lap seven. By lap nine it was a distinctively Aprilia battle with the colleagues setting almost identical lap times around the Malaysian track. On the same rotation Laverty overtook Elias, but the former MotoGP contender was not giving up and tried to fight back.

A lap later Alstare’s Christian Iddon crashed out while in a solid 11th overall, just behind fellow Brit and Evo contender, Leon Camier. But at the top of the pack Melandri took the lead on the final turn of lap ten to edge ahead of Guintoli.

Further down the running order the Pata Honda lads were having their own mini battle. On turn 14 Rea out paced his team-mate to take sixth, pushing Haslam down to seventh. With five laps remaining it became a three-way fight for the final step of the rostrum, between Davies, Elias and Laverty. But while the trio were fighting it out the leading Aprilia’s had an eight second advantage.

Laverty found some extra pace to go into third after making a solid move on the final corner on lap 12 over Davies. On the penultimate lap Elias was on course for his best result of the year so far, as he took back fourth from Davies at turn 1, but that was only to last four corners as Davies retook the spot.

On the final rotation the fight for first came down to the final corner but Melandri had that extra pace to take the win from his team-mate Guintoli, with Laverty taking third from Davies and Elias. Rea, Haslam and Giugliano completed the top eight.

Kawasaki’s David Salom won the Evo category, finishing ninth overall. Crocked Camier, who is still nursing a bicep injury from Donington Park rounded off the top ten and was the second fastest Evo machine this morning.

Results

1 5 33 M. MELANDRI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 16 2'04.884 307,2 2'03.971 304,6 25 122 5 2 1 50 S. GUINTOLI FRA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 16 0.620 2'05.248 304,6 2'03.002 305,4 20 168 3 3 7 58 E. LAVERTY IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 16 12.865 2'05.225 298,7 2'04.263 297,8 16 81 9 4 8 7 C. DAVIES GBR Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 16 15.437 2'05.598 301,2 2'04.343 297,8 13 122 6 5 4 24 T. ELIAS ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 Factory 16 15.723 2'05.509 304,6 2'03.160 305,4 11 76 10 6 10 65 J. REA GBR PATA Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 16 31.304 2'06.978 299,5 2'04.514 300,3 10 169 2 7 11 91 L. HASLAM GBR PATA Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 16 34.093 2'07.169 294,6 2'05.202 296,2 9 84 8 8 3 34 D. GIUGLIANO ITA Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 16 35.804 2'06.794 297,8 2'03.137 297,8 8 90 7 9 12 44 D. SALOM ESP Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 16 42.031 2'07.966 284,5 2'06.388 286,0 7 53 12 10 16 19 L. CAMIER GBR BMW Motorrad Italia SBK BMW S1000 RR EVO 16 49.465 2'07.982 290,6 2'06.184 286,8 6 26

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