Melandri wins Czech double

2012-07-22 22:52

Brno - Marco Melandri won both races of the Brno leg of the World Superbike Championship on Sunday, reducing the gap behind Max Biaggi at the top of the standings to just 21 points with five rounds remaining.

Race 1 report: reports that Race 1 got underway on a damp track with pole-sitter Tom Sykes taking the lead as the Kawasaki rider went wide to find the dry patches on the edge of the track. Melandri was up to second ahead of Rea and Carlos Checa.

Sykes immediately put space between himself and his chasers as he stuck to the dry areas while Davide Giugliano was up to second ahead of Checa. The Italian quickly closed up on Sykes as he caught onto the dry line idea and challenged for the lead only for Sykes to take it back. Their battle allowed Maxime Berger to cross the gap and he immediately fought - and claimed - the lead.

Berger started to build up a lead, pulling away from Giugliano who in turn dropped Sykes. But it was game over for Giugliano on lap four when he lost his Althea Ducati, crashing out of the race when he hit a wet patch.

Berger continued to pull away from the field with the battle for second led by Loris Baz, Sykes, Jakub Smrz, Checa, Rea and Melandri. The six riders swapped positions on a regular basis as they fought for every inch of track space, all the while with Max Biaggi gaining ground as the 11-time Brno winner tried to make up ground after a dismal qualifying performances.

As the laps counted down and the track dried out, it was only a matter of time before the chasers caught Berger with Sykes retaking the lead while the Frenchman found himself in a thick of a battle that included seven other riders all vying for the podium.

Halfway through the race it became a nine-man battle behind Sykes as Biaggi rode up to the back of the train, setting fastest laps along the way. However, having caught the back the Roman Emperor struggled to make inroads and took three laps just to take two positions.

With six to go the battle at the front heated up as Rea launched his attack on Sykes, briefly taking the lead before the Brit came back at him. Checa also made his move taking third off Baz while Melandri overtook Laverty for sixth. The six leading riders separated by less than a second with Biaggi four down the road in seventh place.

Trading blows and fastest lap times the leading pack fought it out as time ran out. Melandri was the first to take a bite at Sykes's lead, storming up the inside on the penultimate lap. Sykes then came under attack from Rea but that ended in the latter crashing out after the two touched. Rea was lucky not to be hit by another rider as he slid across the track but did appear hurt.

The incident meant no one was close enough to challenge Melandri and he claimed his fourth win of the season to close the gap to Biaggi to just 33 points in the standings. Sykes was second ahead of Baz, Checa, Laverty and Biaggi.

Race 2 report:

As was the case in Race 1, Sykes was able to make the most of his pole position and take the lead into the first corner - although this time in bright sunshine. The Briton then proceeded to build up a lead in excess of a second as the rest of the pack jostled for positions behind him.

Championship leader Max Biaggi quickly made up ground having started 14th, finding himself in seventh by the end of the first lap.

Melandri did nothing to help team harmony as he touched teammate Leon Haslam as he looked to go down the inside. While the Italian made the pass stick - and duly apologised for the contact - Haslam was sufficiently affected that Carlos Checa and Biaggi managed to sneak through too.

Eugene Laverty proved an easy target for Melandri and Checa as the Aprilia dropped down the pecking order. What followed was an interesting tussle with teammate Biaggi, but the Irishman ran wide, allowing Biaggi to sneak through.

From there on the race was divided into a handful of little battles, with Melandri and Sykes mixing it up at the front of the field with Checa a few seconds back and not able to impact proceedings and Biaggi a further two seconds back.

Behind them, Laverty looked to hold of the rest of the field.

Melandri and Sykes provided some incredible racing, with the Briton fighting manfully in the face of heavy pressure from the BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider.

In what would be the first of a number of cat and mouse exchanges, Melandri attacked on Turn Three with seven laps to go, grabbing first place down the inside only to see Sykes pinch it right back from him.

The 29-year-old repeated the act on the next lap, with Sykes powerless to fight back on this occasion. However, he lost the lead and nearly his whole race on the following lap, as a tyre lock up saw him wobble worryingly and go wide, allowing Sykes to once again take first place.

On the penultimate lap the pair once again traded positions at turn three and with Melandri more dominant in the first half of the circuit and Sykes comfortable in the closing stages, Melandri knew he had to make a move early on the first lap if he was to win.

A small error from Sykes at the beginning of the start-finish straight provided him with the chance to do just that as he steam passed the Kawasaki rider. Sykes was unable to fight back on this occasion and Melandri was able to complete the first double of his Superbike career under heavy pressure.

Behind them, Checa (six seconds) and Biaggi (nine seconds) came home some way back while Laverty was able to hold onto fifth with Chaz Davies sneaking by Haslam for sixth.

Race 1 results:

1. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 41'59.808
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 42'01.168
3. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) 42'01.756
4. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) 42'02.302
5. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) 42'03.640
6. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) 42'06.947
7. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 42'11.101
8. Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) 42'11.753
9. Maxime Berger (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) 42'18.796
10. Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert) 42'18.925
11. Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing) 42'22.746
12. Alessandro Polita (Red Devils Roma) 43'05.454
13. Norino Brignola (Grillini Progea Superbike Team) 43'05.541
14. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 43'08.056
15. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 43'11.928
16. Lorenzo Zanetti (PATA Racing Team) 43'12.865
17. Viktor Kispataki (Prop-tech ltd) 42'58.319
18. David Salom (Team Pedercini) 43'25.422
RT. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) 37'58.877
RT. Leandro Mercado (Team Pedercini) 22'40.739
RT. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) 22'40.853
RT. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) 10'28.947
RT. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet)

Race 2 results:

1. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport)
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) +0.140
3. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) +6.801
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) +9.840
5. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) +11.775
6. Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing) +11.950
7. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) +12.547
8. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) +13.088
9. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +18.141
10. Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) +25.332
11. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) +28.458
12. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) +29.254
13. Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert) +29.513
14. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +34.875
15. Maxime Berger (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) +41.861
16. Lorenzo Zanetti (PATA Racing Team) +42.139
17. Norino Brignola (Grillini Progea Superbike Team) +1'15.743
18. Viktor Kispataki (Prop-tech ltd) +1'41.325
RT. Alessandro Polita (Red Devils Roma) 10 Laps
RT. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) 11 Laps
RT. David Salom (Team Pedercini) 13 Laps
RT. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) 16 Laps