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Last gasp Melandri denies Sykes
22 July 2012 CLICK HERE
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Marco Melandri has given his World Superbike Championship hopes a substantial boost after a last lap pass on Tom Sykes secured him a second win of the day at Brno.
Having won the opening race by passing Sykes with only two laps remaining, Melandri found himself embroiled in another race-long tussle with the Kawasaki rider that built to a crescendo in the closing stages.
Indeed, the Italian looked well on course to make it a double early in the race as he picked his way up to second place to trail Sykes, who had led from the opening bend, but while it only took him until lap nine to close the small gap his rival had opened up, once there he found it difficult to get past the Kawasaki.
Repeatedly picking his favoured route into turn two, Melandri found Sykes defending his position each time, though the BMW rider would eventually find his way through with four laps remaining.
Even so, Melandri almost threw it away when a wobble into the final corner sent him almost out onto the grass, the error allowing Sykes to dive back through into the lead.
Quickly getting back onto Sykes's tail, the pair entered the final lap with the British rider in the lead, but his hopes of clinging onto victory would be dashed when Melandri out-braked him into the long first turn right-hander, grabbing a last gasp lead he would hold to the chequered flag.
Marking his and BMW's first double victory in World Superbikes, the result has had a hugely positive effect on his title aspirations, slashing Max Biaggi's lead down from 48 points to a more manageable 21 points with five rounds remaining.
Hampered by his 14th place on the grid, Biaggi rallied early on to make good gains, but couldn't ascend higher than fourth place, the Italian finishing three seconds behind Carlos Checa in third position.
Despite missing out on the win, Sykes's pair of second place finishes – his best clutch of results in World Superbikes – lifts him back into a comfortable third place in the standings.
Behind Biaggi, Eugene Laverty prevailed in a tight battle with fellow Aprilia rider Chaz Davies, while Leon Haslam was a disgruntled seventh after being run out wide by team-mate Melandri on lap two and failing to recover his momentum.
Following his podium performance in race one, Loris Baz followed it up with a strong run to eighth in race two, while Leon Camier rediscovered his and Suzuki's form for a much improved ninth place finish.
Michel Fabrizio rounded out the top ten, ahead of Davide Giugliano and Jonathan Rea, the pair looking a shadow of their earlier selves following their race one tumbles. Jakub Smrz, John Hopkins and Maxime Berger picked up the remaining points.