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Eugene Laverty has won the second World Superbike race of the 2013 season at Phillip Island after turning the tables on Sylvain Guintoli to deny his Aprilia counterpart a double victory.
The Irishman had to settle for second place behind his new team-mate in the opening race of the season, but would reverse the positions in an absorbing second encounter in Australia by passing definitively with less than two laps remaining.
Securing the factory Aprilia team's second 1-2 result of the day, Laverty's win marks his fourth career success at WSBK level and puts him equal top with Guintoli at the head of the overall leaderboard after the opening round.
Starting from pole position for the first time in his career after original pole sitter Carlos Checa was ruled out of the second race through injury, though Laverty was beaten into the first bend by Tom Sykes, he would move back ahead at the start of lap two, with the fast-starting Guintoli following suit before the lap was out.
The opening revolution, however, would claim its first casualties at the bottom of Lukey Heights when Chaz Davies and Loris Baz tangled in the braking zone. Send both riders off the track and out of contention, the collision would also heavily delay Leon Haslam and Leon Camier.
As such, Laverty and Guintoli would find themselves heading a fairly depleted lead group, with Melandri up to third by lap four, while Michel Fabrizio, Davide Giugliano and Jules Cluzel – a major beneficiary of the dramas ahead of him – would rise to fourth, fifth and sixth respectively over a fading Sykes in the coming laps.
With Guintoli keeping things consistent up front, Laverty settled in behind his team-mate with Melandri also holding station in a close third. As Laverty focused on preserving his tyres and Melandri unable to out-pace the Aprilia down the home straight, a stalemate would keep the top three tight as the race entered its second-half.
However, the encounter would receive a spark on lap 16 of 22 when Melandri unexpectedly planted a pass on Laverty at the bottom of Lukey Heights, a move that seemingly gave Guintoli the breathing space he needed to break the tow.
Undeterred, Laverty maintained close contact with Melandri until lap twenty when he dived up the inside at turn four. Going on to smash the lap record with a time 1min 31.168secs – four tenths faster than anyone else had managed at that point – Laverty quickly found himself back on Guintoli's tail and would waste no time in planting his move, scything by into turn one at the start of the penultimate lap.
Immediately establishing a gap between himself and the race one winner, Laverty would proceed to hold firm over the final two laps to pick up his second victory as an Aprilia rider and his fourth in World Superbikes.
Behind Guintoli, Melandri had to make do with third, though he was fortunate not to be usurped by Michel Fabrizio on the final lap, the race one podium winner mounting a late challenge that would almost take him all the way to the rostrum again.
Further back, Sykes was once again able to recover from a mid-race lull to grab fifth by the chequered flag, ahead of Giugliano and Cluzel, the Frenchman impressing on his first weekend as a WSBK rider after a weekend of technical disruptions.
By contrast, Jonathan Rea's landmark 100th WSBK race was an unhappy one as he struggled for competitiveness on the Pata Honda once again, the Ulsterman well down the order in eighth place.
Fighting back from their opening lap delays, Camier would get the better of Haslam on the line as the duo recovered to round out the top ten.
Behind them, Max Neukirchner took the sole remaining Ducati 1199R to more good points in 11th place, ahead of wild-card riders Glenn Allerton and Jamie Stauffer, while Pedercini Kawasaki pair Federico Sandi and Alexander Lundh picked up the final points in 14th and 15th.