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Marco Melandri beat his Aprilia team mate Sylvain Guintoli in a pair of dramatic World Superbike races at Sepang. Marco Melandri beat his Aprilia team mate Sylvain Guintoli in a pair of dramatic World Superbike races at Sepang. Photo courtesy WSBK Press Office

Melandri takes World Superbike double

Written by  on Sunday, 08 June 2014 09:03

SEPANG, Malaysia – Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) came out victorious in both eni FIM Superbike World Championship races at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday, in front of an enthusiastic Malaysian crowd that reached a total of 34,528 spectators over the three days. It was the second double of Melandri’s career after the one he scored in Brno two years ago, aboard the factory BMW machinery he was riding at the time.

“We really needed this double,” Melandri said. “We never gave up despite the difficulties we went through, we kept working hard and fighting. I found a good feeling here astride my RSV4.

“Conditions were difficult in race one, but I managed to close the gap to Sylvain [Guintoli] anyway. After overtaking him I was able to pull away just enough to win. Race two was even harder, as I had to make my way through the Kawasakis before trying to catch my teammate. During the last lap I tried everything I could up to the finish line.

“A lot of respect should be paid to all riders for today’s races, because it was really tough to ride in these conditions. I would like to dedicate this double to my girlfriend Manu who is due to give birth soon, and to the team.”

The first race at Sepang was a thriller, with Aprilia Racing Team's Melandri and Guintoli locked in a titanic battle for victory until the flag.

The race was incident packed from the start as Loris Baz tangled with his Kawasaki racing team mate Tom Sykes, both riders falling and taking with them Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).

With the incident creating a gap at the front the race, Guintoli and Melandri exchanged places at the front with Melandri eventually coming out as the victor and claiming his first win as a factory Aprilia rider. Guintoli was second.

Behind the leading two, a three-way fight raged with Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) claiming the final podium spot ahead of Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) and Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), who were fourth and fifth respectively.

Sixth at the end of the first 16-lap encounter of the day went to Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), who recovered from a bad start to get the better of his team mate Leon Haslam.

David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) claimed the EVO honours with a spirited ride to ninth overall ahead of Leon Camier (BMW Motorrad Italia).

The second race was initially red flagged after the MV Agusta of Claudio Corti expired, resulting in a small fire that needed to be extinguished by the track side marshals.

With only three full laps completed the grid for the restart was determined by the positions at the end of the third tour, meaning Guintoli was on pole ahead of Elias and Melandri. The restart, over 10 laps of the Sepang International Circuit did not disappoint, with the leading five riders locked together until the two factory Aprilia riders eased clear.

Melandri had to take avoiding action as he misjudged his braking point on the second lap, narrowly missing the back of his team mate Guintoli and Elias. Thankfully everyone stayed aboard treating the fans to one of the closest race finishes of the year. Melandri and Guintoli exchanged places several times on the final lap with the Italian getting the better of his team mate once again to take a double win on the championship’s first visit to Sepang.

Sykes made amends after being taken out in race one to take the final spot on the podium, despite a painful wrist. The Brit still leads the standings after the sixth round while Guintoli now lies second in the title race, only 13 points behind the reigning champion.

“We got a podium and we are still leading the championship, which is very important,” Sykes said. “We made a change to the machine after Superpole and in warm-up I was very happy.

“I had a bit of a limitation in race two which created a little bit of instability with the bike because I was not able to use my right hand to its full potential. It is was difficult to see the two guys up front go away because if I was riding fit then I think we could have tried to give them something to think about. My crew chief had a good chat with me before race two, and he said we needed to try and do the best we can.”

Elias edged Baz for fourth, with Rea finishing in sixth place.

Camier was the best classified EVO rider, racing to 12th at the end of the race ahead of David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team).

After 14 exciting laps, Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) took victory in the first ever World Supersport race in Sepang and with it extended his lead in the championship after an enthralling battle in the hottest Supersport race of the year, both on and off the track.

After taking the lead at turn one former champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Team India Kawasaki) was put under intense pressure from Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport), van der Mark, Robert Rolfo (Go Eleven Kawasaki) and Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), with the top five riders easing slowly away from the chasing pack.

As the race progressed Sofuoglu dropped slowly back as did Rolfo and Zanetti leaving championship leader Van der Mark and Cluzel to fight to the flag with the Dutchman getting the better of the Frenchman in the final turn.

Sofuoglu took the final podium place in third after getting the better of Rolfo, with Zanetti and Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) completing the top six.

Wildcard rider Zaqhwan Zaidi (SIC Racing Team) rode superbly to claim a well deserved ninth in front of a very enthusiastic local crowd.

World Superbike Race 1 Results

1.Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 16 Laps/88.768 km in 33:42.359 (158.016km/h)

2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.620

3. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) +12.865

4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +15.437

5. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +15.723

6. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +31.304

7. Leon Haslam (Honda) +34.093

8. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +35.804

9. David Salom (Kawasaki) +42.031

10. Leon Camier (BMW) +49.465

11. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) +53.715

12. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki) +1:07.783

13. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) +1:10.746

14. Imre Toth (BMW) +1:18.143

15. Romain Lanusse (Kawasaki) +1:21.026

16. Aaron Yates (EBR) +1:49.054

RT. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)

RT. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)

RT. Peter Sebestyen (BMW)

RT. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta)

RT. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki)

RT. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)

RT. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)

RT. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

Superbike Race 2 Results

1.Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 10 Laps/55.480km in 21:00.424 (158.461km/h)

2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.166

3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +2.689

4. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +5.386

5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +5.514

6. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +7.073

7. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) +7.476

8. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +11.057

9. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) +15.866

10. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +16.206

11. Leon Haslam (Honda) +16.488

12. Leon Camier (BMW) +23.820

13. David Salom (Kawasaki) +30.653

14. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) +31.266

15. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +43.009

16. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) +46.127

17. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) +58.167

18. Imre Toth (BMW) +1:00.017

19. Peter Sebestyen (BMW) +1:03.574

20. Aaron Yates (EBR) +1:13.522

RT. Romain Lanusse (Kawasaki)

RT. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki)

RT. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki)

World Superbike Standings (Round 6 of 13)

1.Tom Sykes 201

2. Sylvain Guintoli 188

3. Jonathan Rea 179

4. Loris Baz 170

5. Marco Melandri 147

6. Chaz Davies 130

7. Davide Giugliano 96

8. Eugene Laverty 90

9. Toni Elias 89

10. Leon Haslam 89

11. Alex Lowes 80

12. David Salom 56

13. Niccolo Canepa 39

14. Leon Camier 30

15. Jeremy Guarnoni 19

16. Luca Scassa 16

17. Fabien Foret 14

18. Claudio Corti 10

19. Sheridan Morais 10

20. Alessandro Andreozzi 8

21. Glenn Allerton 6

22. Kervin Bos 5

23. Bryan Staring 3

24. Imre Toth 2

25. Michele Fabrizio 2

26. Romain Lanusse 1

--From WSBK Press Office

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Last modified on Sunday, 08 June 2014 09:10

John Hopkins

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