Melandri Takes Point Lead With Moscow Win
MOSCOW — After winning race two at the all-new Moscow Raceway Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) took the lead in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship for the first time in 2012, following up a second-place finish in race one in perfect style.
Melandri reversed the opening race finishing order as he beat Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) by less than one second in the second intense 25-lapper in front of 32,500 enthusiastic fans. Sykes’ race one win was his second of 2012, following on from his success at Monza in May.
Melandri had been stung by a wasp on his left leg in the first race but battled on to his podium finish, then recovered well enough to take an important lead after race two that now gives him an 18.5 point advantage over the long time championship leader, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team). Biaggi had been third in race one but no-scored in race two.
The enthusiastic and thoroughly entertained Russian race fans judged the first ever SBK event in their country a real success, even if many of the top names were to lose points after several high profile but largely injury-free crashes. Biaggi had a collision under braking with Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in race two and neither rider finished, which means that Melandri now has 308.5 points to Biaggi’s 290, with Sykes third on 267.5.
Sykes scored the first win after a faultless display of front running at a high pace. Despite damp patches on the track surface from earlier rain, his instant speed from second on the grid kept him away from the troubles many other top riders endured behind him, with crashes helping Melandri finish second. Biaggi overhauled his teammate Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) on the very last lap to take third place and what would prove to be important points. Potential podium riders Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati), his team-mate Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia), Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) and Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Racing Team Ducati) all crashed out, with Haslam also falling then restarting to finish sixth after clashing with Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Aprilia).
“Carlos made history yesterday with the first pole but like I’ve said all season I would certainly trade my pole for a race win and today that’s happened,” Sykes said. “Myself and Kawasaki have gone down in the history books by winning here, the race went very smoothly for myself, we did a lot of work yesterday on race tiyres and today has paid off with full points.”
Melandri was never under serious threat after he eventually took the lead in the second race, heading up Sykes by less than a second after another 25-laps of drama and incident. Sykes had been too preoccupied with the riders behind him to read his pit signals at one time and he missed out on a late chance to attack Melandri again. Davies was third after the three riders in front of him on the last lap were affected by a high side from Laverty. The Irish rider was to retire but Rea recovered from his collision with Laverty’s machine, and subsequent crash, to go seventh. The following Checa was pushed off track and dropped back to finish fourth. Leon Camier was a strong fifth for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team, after some woes in qualifying and a heavy crash in practice.
“It’s been an awesome day for me because race one was very tough, so finishing second was for me like a win,” Melandri explained. “But in race two, I felt very good, my crew chief made a small modification on the bike and I felt very confident from the beginning. About six or seven laps to go, my rear tire was sliding a lot but was working perfectly with my BMW. I’m so happy because this year we are doing a great job.”