Marco Melandri has produced two impeccably judged rides to clean sweep round nine of the 2012 World Superbike title at Brno in the Czech Republic.
The Italian only led over the finish line for three laps out of 40 – two in race one and once in the second – but it was all he required to bring up his and BMW’s first double win in WSBK competition.
And in doing do, Melandri has reduced Max Biaggi’s championship lead to 21pts (271.5 to 250.5) with five rounds remaining. Biaggi was sixth and fourth in the two 20-lap races at Brno.
“I am living my dream today. Securing my first double victory here in Brno on this race track is something special for me,” said Melandri. “I am so happy because I already have five victories this season and nobody expected that.
“Race one was already amazing. At the beginning the conditions were very difficult as it was wet. While I was trying to improve my position I made two mistakes because I still was not feeling comfortable. When I saw I was eighth I said to myself I needed to be quiet and keep my rhythm to catch the front guys.
“Race two was even more difficult, as Tom (Sykes) was having a great race and I had to spend a lot of energy trying to catch him. Every time I tried to pass Tom he was braking so hard that it was nearly impossible. Actually I did not expect to win, but doing that here twice today is just amazing.”
Race one started in tricky conditions after rain throughout the preceding night and morning, with Maxime Berger (Ducati), polesitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) and Loris Baz (Kawasaki) making the early running while Melandri picked his way back through the field from outside the top 10.
As the track dried and the pace started to pick up, Sykes and Honda’s Jonathan Rea took their places at the head of the pack, and Melandri moved into third position after passing world champion Carlos Checa (Ducati)on lap 17.
The last three laps were frenetic, with Rea crashing out after a collision with Sykes, Melandri eventually scooping up Sykes, and Baz outmuscling Checa to score his first WSBK podium.
In race two, Sykes again had clear air in front of him for the majority of the race before Melandri hit the lead on the final lap and held on for a thrilling 0.140-second victory.
Checa was a clear third ahead of Aprilia teammates Biaggi and Eugene Laverty – Biaggi unable to finish on the podium at Brno for the first time since 2008.
Sykes has now moved up to third in the standings on 212.5pts, ahead of Checa (204.5) and Rea (187).
Newcastle’s Broc Parkes (Honda) finished third after a thrilling three-way battle for victory.
The race was won by Fabien Foret (Kawasaki), with Kenan Sofouglu (Honda) second. The race was red flagged after 13 of the scheduled 18 laps.
Parkes remains fifth in the standings.
SUPERSTOCK 1000 FIM CUP
Perth’s Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) won his second consecutive race after dominating on a wet track to defeat Eddi La Marra (Ducati) by a comfortable 6.5 seconds. He is now third in the standings on 70pts.
“We have now won one race in the dry and one race in the wet on the Ninja ZX-10R so it makes me happy,” said Staring. “Considering two rounds ago I was in 11th overall and now I am third. Obviously that’s really good, but I do not want to think about it too much; I will just take it one race at a time.
“We had a lot of bad luck at the start of the season but it has been coming together better for us in the past few races.”
BRNO WORLD SUPERBIKE RESULTS
Race one: 20 laps
1 Marco Melandri Italy, BMW
2 Tom Sykes, Great Britain, Kawasaki +1.360
3 Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki +1.948
4 Carlos Checa, Spain, Ducati +2.494
5 Eugene Laverty, Great Britain, Aprilia +3.832
6 Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia +7.139
7 Leon Haslam, Great Britain, BMW +11.293
8 Michel Fabrizio, Italy, BMW +11.945
9 Maxime Berger, France, Ducati +18.988
10 Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic, Ducati +19.117
Fastest lap: Checa – 2:00.741
Race two: 20 laps
2 Sykes +0.140
3 Checa +6.801
4 Biaggi +9.840
5 Laverty +11.775
6 Chaz Davies, Great Britain, Aprilia +11.950
7 Haslam +12.547
8 Baz +13.088
9 Leon Camier, Great Britain, Suzuki +18.141
10 Fabrizio +25.352
CURRENT WORLD SUPERBIKE STANDINGS (AFTER NINE OF 14 ROUNDS):
1 Biaggi 271.5
2 Melandri 250.5
3 Sykes 212.5
4 Checa 204.5
5 Jonathan Rea, Great Britain, Honda 187
6 Haslam 160
7 Laverty 148
8 Sylvain Guintoli, France, Ducati 110
9 Davide Giugliano, Italy, Ducati 99
10 Davies 93
Next round: Silverstone, UK, August 3-5