Crash.Net WSBK News
Davies wins as Biaggi and Melandri bin it
9 September 2012
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Chaz Davies has taken a stunning maiden World Superbike Championship victory after keeping it clean in a dramatic second race at the Nurburgring that would see both Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri crash.
With Biaggi back in the lead of the standings following Melandri's DNF in the first race of the day, the stage was set for a renewed battle in race two, the pair now split by a slender 6.5 points in favour of the Aprilia rider.
However, the race would turn out to be a chaotic one for both title protagonists, starting from the very first lap when Biaggi came crashing down at the NGK Chicane at the end of the back straight.
Having slotted into third place initially behind fast-starting team-mate Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes, Biaggi was seemingly caught unawares under braking for the corner when Laverty, having just been overtaken by Sykes, ran off course and across the gravel trap just ahead. Tucking the front end on the bumps, Biaggi skated into the gravel trap, but determinedly kept the machine running to remount, albeit some distance behind the field.
His misfortune, coupled to Laverty losing time, served to break up the field, with Sykes taking the lead, ahead of Melandri and Davies, while Jonathan Rea, Davide Giugliano, Loris Baz and the recovering Laverty made up the chasing pack at the end of the opening lap.
Melandri proceeded to follow Sykes for several laps before making his move at the start of lap eight into turn one. It was a move that was replicated by Davies a lap later as the two began to stretch away from Sykes almost immediately.
However, just as it looked like the pendulum of momentum was swinging back in the favour of Melandri, the BMW rider sensationally hit the deck on the entry to turn 11. A remarkable twist in what has been a dramatic day for the title rivals, Melandri would not get going again as he was left to rue scuppering a golden opportunity to regain the initiative.
With Melandri out of the race and Biaggi still battling outside the points, it was Davies who subsequently capitalised on the chaos around him to nose in front of a WSBK lead for the first time.
With a fading Sykes posing little danger to him and the gap to third at nearly five seconds, Davies could afford to concentrate on simply getting to the finish line, which he managed with no trouble.
Coming on the weekend where paddock rumours suggest he will join BMW in 2013, the result is a timely one for a rider that had never ridden a Superbike before this year, while it also a huge boost for the new ParkinGO MTC Aprilia team following its decision to step up from the World Supersport series.
Perhaps more importantly, however, was Biaggi's charge back up the order, the Italian ignoring the fairly substantial damage to his bike to claw his way into the points in 13th place. Though good for only three points, it means he has unexpectedly increased his lead to 9.5 points over Melandri with four races remaining.
Behind Davies, the fight for the podium was a fierce one, with Laverty, Rea and Giugliano engaging in an entertaining scrap before Leon Camier, having gone from last to fifth in the first race, scythed his way through the pack, peaking in second place after catching and passing Sykes too.
Despite this, a late charge by Laverty would see him snatch back the position in the closing stages to complete his second rostrum finish of the day, while Camier will at least be satisfied to have notched up Suzuki's first podium of the season in third.
Following his DNF in the first race, Jonathan Rea completed his day in fourth as he now turns his attentions to deputising for Casey Stoner in MotoGP next weekend.
Sykes held on for fifth place, the Kawasaki rider no doubt frustrated at being unable to take full advantage of his title rivals' woes having led both races for a time. Even so, by finishing both races inside the top five, Sykes has closed the gap to the front runners, the Briton now 26.5 points off Biaggi and 17 points from Melandri.
Struggling to get embroiled in the battles ahead, Carlos Checa settled for sixth, the Spaniard benefitting when Leon Haslam crashed ahead of him, the Briton compounding BMW's awful day with a high-speed fall at turn nine.
Checa's team-mate Davide Giugliano crossed the line seventh, while Baz came out top of his own battle with Ayrton Badovini and Sylvain Guintoli in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.
Outside the top ten, Lorenzo Zanetti followed his PATA Ducati team-mate in 11th, ahead of John Hopkins, who crossed the line just four tenths ahead of the charging Biaggi.
Maxime Berger and Hiroshi Aoyama completed the points' paying positions in 14th and 15th.