DUCATI’S Chaz Davies has taken maximum points from the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship, winning both races at the Italian marque’s home circuit of Imola, Italy.
Davies is currently third in the Championship, 75 points behind leader Johnathan Rea (Kawasaki), and one point behind Tom Sykes (Kawasaki).
Sunday’s win was a big feat for Davies – the last 12 races in Imola have been won from the front row of the grid, and it equalled Carlos Checa’s record of winning from ninth on the grid due do WBSK’s new grid system in Race 2.
Davies arguably did it in tougher circumstances – a red flag in the early laps paused proceedings, but he produced a superb ride on the Ducati, overtaking provisional leader Sykes mid-race (post-restart) and going on to win by just under four seconds from Rea.
It was Davies’ first double victory of 2017 – a repeat of his Imola result from 2016 where the Ducati man also picked up maximum points at the Italian track last year.
Sykes had led the race but was eventually unable to hold off his teammate Rea for second, as the Northern Irishman ultimately beat the Yorkshirman across the line by +0.603s.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and home rider Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) were engaged in a close fight for fourth, with Spaniard Fores finally coming out on top in that duel by less than two tenths of a second.
Behind that pair Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crossed the line in sixth place for more good points, with Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) close by in seventh.
It was a solid result for Laverty after a difficult day for him on Saturday, with his big crash in Race 1.
Contact with Alex Lowes severed Laverty’s brake line causing him to abandon ship at roughly 200km/h.
— WorldSBK (@WorldSBK) May 14, 2017
Likewise an excellent performance by Jordi Torres saw the Althea BMW Racing Team man finish in eighth place having got away from the back of the grid, after he missed Superpole and Race 1 on Saturday due to illness.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) completed the top ten, Mercado making amends for his Race 1 DNF.
There was disappointment for Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who crashed out of second place early on having made a superb start, with Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC-Project) also crashing shortly after the Englishman. Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was another crasher and Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was forced to retire due to a technical issue.
The initial staging of the race had earlier ended in a red flag due to track conditions at turn 16, following an issue for Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team) which had left oil on track.
World SSP Sofuoglu victorious in superb Italian Sprint
In a delayed and shortened WorldSSP race on Sunday afternoon at Imola, world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took the win, using all his experience to beat Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), who both joined him on the podium.
Having missed the first two rounds of 2017 due to a training injury and then crashing out on his comeback at Aragon, Sofuoglu built on his Assen victory with a second consecutive triumph in this 11-lap sprint to claw back five points on championship leader Mahias.
Frenchman Mahias remains at the head of the standings following his second place finish, a fourth podium result of the year so far for the Yamaha man. Pole man Jacobsen crossed the line just behind Sofuoglu and Mahias in third, but he was never really able to challenge the leading pair for victory.
The top five also included Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini), with South African rider Morais around seven seconds off the podium and eight tenths of a second in front of Smith.
Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing), Loris Cresson (SC Racing-RPM84), Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) were all in the top ten.
Indeed in tenth place Zaccone was the leading FIM Europe Supersport Cup finisher, ahead of Hannes Soomer (WILSport Racedays) in 16th and Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Jenik – Against Cancer) in 17th.
Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) retired with technical problems, with smoke pouring from his MV Agusta F3 675 machine, whilst there were crashes for the likes of Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) and Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
The WorldSSP race finally took place after WorldSBK Race 2 following an initial race start delay and two interrupted races earlier in the day – due to red flags after incidents had left debris and oil on track. Due to the rescheduling of the race it was shortened from an original 17-lap length to 11 circulations of the Imola track.
WSBK Race 1
Davies made a brilliant start from pole and was untouchable, leading by well over six seconds when the race ended early due to a red flag, after a big crash for Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) at turns 17 to 18 – which meant track conditions were not safe for racing to continue. Laverty walked away from the incident which saw his Aprilia RSV4 RF go up in flames and he was taken immediately to the medical centre for a check-up after the high speed incident.
With 12 of 19 scheduled laps completed at the time of the crash, rider placements at that stage were taken as the final race results and Davies claimed his second win of the season. The ever-consistent Rea picked up more important championship points in second, whilst Melandri made it a good day for Ducati on home territory in third place on the podium.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was fourth, the Englishman trailing Melandri by less than a second, whilst Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) continued his good form in fifth.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) produced a good ride in sixth, whilst Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and his teammate Alex Lowes were seventh and eighth respectively. Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) completed the top ten.
Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) crashed out at turn 7 early in the race, with Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) pulling into the pits shortly afterwards due to a technical issue.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) was unable to participate in race one due to illness.
Photos: GeeBee Images/2Snap