Round 6 of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal saw Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) taking out race one and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) on top of the podium in race two.
Marco Melandri won Race 1 following a close battle in the closing stages with Sylvain Guintoli that ended up with just a 0.007 gap between the two at the finish line – the fourth smallest margin for victory ever in a WSBK race. A perfect exit out of the last corner was just not enough for the Championship leader to snatch victory over the Italian.
Marco Melandri: “To win in race one was not easy because at the beginning I was struggling a lot with the traction but after ten laps this improved and it was easier for me so I got closer to the front again. When I was leading, it was very difficult, because it was very windy so it was hard to stay in front. When Tom passed me, he closed the line. Maybe he thought he was in front of me but he just pushed me out of the track. When I came back, I did not have any plan so I just pushed as much as I could. I tried to overtake Tom very quickly because Sylvain was very fast and tried to pull away. When I caught Guintoli I took the opportunity to pass him. The last lap is very difficult to explain, it was just very close and I pushed as much as I could. I am so happy and thank you to everyone at BMW.”
The works Aprilia team’s race outcome was well saved by the Frenchman, following team-mate Eugene Laverty’s unfortunate retirement on lap 12, the result of a technical problem he sustained while in the lead. Tom Sykes – the only first row starter to finish the race – completed the podium with a solid third place, after losing some ground from the top in the final part. Best result so far in the season for Leon Camier and the FIXI Crescent Suzuki Team, as the tall British rider finished fourth ahead of a sore Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) and Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia).
Camier’s team-mate Jules Cluzel got the better of Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) on the last lap, finishing eighth. Pata Honda Team’s unfortunate first race of the day saw Jonathan Rea retiring due to a technical problem and Leon Haslam pulling in after losing the feeling in both arms, as the 30 year old from Derby was trying to compensate the lack of strength in his injured left leg.
1. M. Melandri ITA / BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 38’12.447
2. S. Guintoli FRA / Aprilia Racing Team / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 0.007
3. T. Sykes GBR / Kawasaki Racing Team / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 4.224
4. L. Camier GBR / Fixi Crescent Suzuki / Suzuki GSX-R1000 / 9.479
5. L. Baz FRA / Kawasaki Racing Team / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 12.057
6. C. Davies GBR / BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 16.61
7. M. Fabrizio ITA / Red Devils Roma / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 21.35
8. J. Cluzel FRA / Fixi Crescent Suzuki / Suzuki GSX-R1000 / 22.337
9. C. Checa ESP / Team Ducati Alstare / Ducati 1199 Panigale R / 23.662
10. F. Sandi ITA / Team Pedercini / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1’26.995
11. V. Iannuzzo ITA / Grillini Dentalmatic SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 1’27.119
12. I. Clementi ITA / HTM Racing / BMW S1000 RR / 1’29.096
13. M. Neukirchner GER / MR-Racing / Ducati 1199 Panigale R / 3 Laps
Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) was the winner of Race 2 with the Irishman, back on the podium after the Italian round at Monza, managed to score his fourth victory of the season: of the seven wins achieved so far in his WSBK career, six of them came in the second race of the day.
Eugene Laverty: “Race 1 seems to be cursed for us this year, especially on tracks like this one and Aragon where I had the right pace to take a double win. In any case I’m not one to complain. I was really trying hard for this win and I’m pleased to have been able to do it dominating from the first to last lap. I’m still in the title chase even with a few too many DNFs, but we are growing race by race and I’m confident about the upcoming rounds.”
The only rider able to keep up with the winner, at least in the first half of the race, was Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike). The Ulsterman was edged out of second place in the closing stages by Sylvain Guintoli, who completed the third one-two for the works Aprilia team in 2013 after total domination of round one at Phillip Island.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had a very early crash on the sighting lap, at Turn 2, managed after several attempts to make his way back to the pits, from where he started the race. Towards the end of Lap 1 the Englishman had to pull in again but, after returning to the track for the third time, with no chances left for a top-15 finish, Sykes showed an incredible pace and even set the new lap record in 1’42.475.
Tom Sykes: “I expected the first race to be just as close as it was but I was struggling a little bit with race performance. Portimao is not one of my strongest circuits and still we could fight for the win. In race two the fall was my fault because in turn one on my out lap I ran over the kerbstone on the inside. We had made improvements on the bike for race two and we proved that was the case because we went on to break the lap record. I feel I have let a few people down but I do not want to be too hard on myself as it is the first mistake I have made for a long time.”
The Kawasaki Racing Team had something to cheer anyway, as Loris Baz finished fourth ahead of Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), a tenacious Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) and Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki).
The works Kawasaki team’s Loris Baz finished fourth ahead of Chaz Davies, a tenacious Carlos Checa and Jules Cluzel. An excessive rear-tyre wear forced Marco Melandri to ride defensively to a 12th place at the flag. The issue that hampered the performance of the Italian rider is currently being analysed by Pirelli. Leon Camier withdrew from the race on lap 12 due to a technical problem.
Marco Melandri: “I could certainly have been on the podium but instead the rear tyre began to vibrate from lap two onwards. From lap three I started losing grip and then the tyre deteriorated. As a consequence the whole bike started to vibrate and it was difficult to ride. I did the best I could do in that situation. Now I am looking forward to Imola.”
Race 2 results
1. E. Laverty IRL / Aprilia Racing Team / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 38’02.051
2. S. Guintoli FRA / Aprilia Racing Team / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 4.107
3. J. Rea GBR / Pata Honda World Superbike / Honda CBR1000RR / 5.853
4. L. Baz FRA / Kawasaki Racing Team / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 15.306
5. C. Davies GBR / BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 17.552
6. C. Checa ESP / Team Ducati Alstare / Ducati 1199 Panigale R / 18.366
7. J. Cluzel FRA / Fixi Crescent Suzuki / Suzuki GSX-R1000 / 29.392
8. A. Badovini ITA / Team Ducati Alstare / Ducati 1199 Panigale R / 38.359
9. D. Giugliano ITA / Althea Racing / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 39.321
10. M. Fabrizio ITA / Red Devils Roma / Aprilia RSV4 Factory / 44.603
11. M. Neukirchner GER / MR-Racing / Ducati 1199 Panigale R / 45.339
12. M. Melandri BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 45.429
13. F. Sandi ITA / Team Pedercini / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1’16.310
14. A. Lundh SWE / Team Pedercini / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1’16.375
15. V. Iannuzzo ITA / Grillini Dentalmatic SBK / BMW S1000 RR / 1’18.303
Championship Standings (after Round 6 of 14)
1. Sylvain Guintoli, 213
2. Tom Sykes, 185
3. Eugene Laverty, 174
4. Marco Melandri, 156
5. Chaz Davies, 133
6. Loris Baz, 119
7. Jonathan Rea, 105
8. Michel Fabrizio, 101
9. Davide Giugliano, 79
10. Jules Cluzel, 72
WORLD SUPERSPORT – Sam Lowes wins an absolute thriller
A thrilling and spectacular four-way finale was the highest point of an incredible race, won by Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) over Mahi Racing Team India duo of Fabien Foret and Kenan Sofuoglu. Thanks to his fourth consecutive win of the season, the Brit extends his championship lead to 39 points on the defending WSS Champion. Rookie and potential podium finisher Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) ended up in fourth place.
All four riders waited for the closing stages to give everything they had, but Lowes’ last move at turn 11 on Foret proved to be a successful one as the pole-sitter managed to stay on the lead up to the chequered flag, while the Frenchman and Sofuoglu kept contesting the remaining podium positions.
Van der Mark had his shot at the front in the closing stages, but once being passed back by the hungry trio he had to settle for an encouraging fourth, especially considering his fitness condition. Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) and Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) mixed up front in the early part, eventually finishing fifth and sixth respectively despite a big gap from the front runners.
1. S. Lowes (Yamaha) 20 Laps/91.840 km in 35’32.882 average 155.013 kph
2. F. Foret (Kawasaki) 0.38
3. K. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 0.502
4. M. Vd Mark (Honda) 1.322
5. S. Morais (Honda) 9.537
6. J. Kennedy (Honda) 11.772
7. A. Antonelli (Kawasaki) 13.535
8. L. Scassa (Kawasaki) 13.953
9. R. De Rosa (Honda) 14.728
10. C. Iddon (MV Agusta) 18.756
11.V. Leonov (Yamaha) 18.909
12. M. Roccoli (Yamaha) 32.012
13. A. Baldolini (Suzuki) 32.039
14. L. Zanetti (Honda) 32.118
15. L. Marconi (Honda) 33.152; etc.