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WSBK Monza: Melandri prevails in three-way Monza thriller
12 May 2013 CLICK HERE
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Marco Melandri has taken his first World Superbike Championship win of the season on home soil at Monza after prevailing in a thrilling final lap exchange between himself, Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty.
An engrossing encounter that would build in tension as the laps counted down, the crescendo would be an exciting last lap tussle between Laverty, Melandri and Sykes, the trio nose-to-tail as they came into the final revolution.
Indeed, things between the quartet had been fairly even from the start, Laverty getting the jump off the start line to lead initially, Melandri slotting into third from fifth on the grid behind Jonathan Rea, with Sykes fourth and Sylvain Guintoli in fifth.
With Rea making an error on lap two, the remaining four would break away from the pack in unison, the only change coming on lap four when Guintoli slipped up to third on lap four at the expense of Sykes. The Kawasaki rider would go on to straight line the Roggia chicane, losing him time but not track position.
In fact, the championship leader looked to be the rider on the move when he lifted himself to second at Roggia on lap eight, before relieving Laverty of the lead just a few corners later at the Parabolica.
Sparking some action into the quartet, Melandri and Sykes would both get through on Laverty by lap ten, before Melandri nosed into the lead for the first time on lap 11 with a pass on Guintoli at the Roggia chicane.
With Laverty seemingly dropping off the pace, Guintoli struck back into the lead on lap 15 of 18, dragging a recovering Sykes along with him as they overtook Melandri into the opening bend.
From here it was Sykes's turn to have a go in the lead, passing Guintoli into Roggia, a move replicated by Melandri a few corners later. When Laverty also edged ahead of his team-mate for third, Guintoli would promptly slip out of victory contention.
As such, the fight for the win would see Sykes, Melandri and Laverty go head-to-head, the latter having successfully collected himself after his mid-race lull.
More than that, Laverty would even go on to push back ahead as they entered the final lap, pulling Melandri past Sykes as well down the home straight.
With Sykes dispatched, Melandri quickly made his move on Laverty, passing into Roggia, only for the Irishman to get back ahead with a bold pass into Ascari.
With just the long Parabolica corner remaining, Melandri – roared on by the partisan crowd - inevitably dived for the inside, easing his former team-mate out wide in a move reminiscent to two years ago when Laverty beat Melandri to victory on the Yamaha.
Subsequently opening up the door for the close-following Sykes, the Kawasaki man attempted to get the better run out of the corner, but Melandri would have just enough to speed to get him to the finish line first.
In the end, Melandri would win by just 0.085secs, with Laverty having to make do with third position 0.107secs from a win he was so close to.
Despite losing out to Melandri, Sykes and Laverty have at least benefitted in the overall standings, Guintoli's fade to fourth allowing them to close to 21 and 25 points respectively.
Behind Guintoli, the fight for fifth was initially an engaging three-way tussle between Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano and Rea. A bright start from Rea had him up to second initially, but a mistake on the second lap would see him slip into the chasing pack.
However, a run on at turn one whilst battling Davies would see him lose position even before stewards decree he must drop two more positions for cutting the chicane. He would eventually recover to eighth.
With Davide Giugliano also suffering a chicane run on, albeit without penalty, Davies was free to secure fifth position, ahead of Michel Fabrizio, Loris Baz and a hapless Rea.
Leon Camier went on to claim a fairly quiet ninth place, with Giugliano rounding out the top ten, ahead of Ayrton Badovini, Max Neukirchner, Fabrizio Lai, Honda sub Kosuke Akiyoshi and Federico Sandi.
Elsewhere, Jules Cluzel had run as high as eighth early on, but a chicane miss would see him receive a ride-through penalty that would leave him 17th.