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WSS Monza: Lowes survives chaos as rivals flounder
12 May 2013 CLICK HERE
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Sam Lowes has taken a magnificent second consecutive World Supersport Championship win of the season at Monza after keeping his cool on a chaotic day that saw him endure three red flag stoppages and incur a wrist injury, before eventually prevailing in an exhilarating race.
Originally scheduled for 12.30GMT, the race wouldn't get underway until 15.45GMT after repeated delays brought on by three red flag periods forced it to be put to the end of the day's racing schedule.
The first red flag would occur just two laps into the initial start when the top four riders - Kenan Sofuoglu, Florian Marino, Lowes and Lorenzo Zanetti - all came down on oil deposited by Massimo Roccoli's expiring Yamaha.
Following a lengthy clean-up operation, the second start would last just a lap when Alessia Polita crashed heavily on the exit of Ascari, her Yamaha damaging the air fence at a critical point in the circuit.
The final red flag would come just seconds into the third restart when wild-card Stefano Cruciani missed his braking point as a result of contact on the entry to the corner. Sending him too fast into the bend, he would clatter into Lorenzo Zanetti, creating a concertina effect behind that would delay several riders and cause a significant number to fall as well.
Indeed, the latter accident would prove particularly detrimental to some of the title contenders, with Fabien Foret and Michael van der Mark – who were first and second overall coming into the race – falling hard enough to miss the fourth restart altogether when it eventually came.
Similarly, Lowes didn't escape unharmed from the melee, his fall in the first start leaving him with a wrist injury that initially put him in doubt for the restart too.
Nonetheless, the Briton braved it out for the fourth start, which he began from pole position, but he would be swallowed up into the opening bend by Marino - who came into the race having crashed twice over the course of the day's chaos - Sofuoglu and Zanetti.
Relieving Marino of the lead into Roggia, Sofuoglu forged an early advantage as Lowes contended with attention from the Kawasaki and Honda contingent that were evidently quicker in the straight line.
However, just when it looked like Sofuoglu was heading for an easy passage to victory, the Turk would low-side on the exit of the second Lesmo on lap four. Though he would remount with a view to continuing, Sofuoglu would retire to the pit lane, leaving him to rue a potentially crucial missed opportunity.
Opening the door for Lowes, the Yakhnich Yamaha rider still found himself in a perilous position, his YZF-R6 noticeably slower in a straight line even without taking his wrist injury into account. As such, Marino would repeatedly draft by on the straight aboard his Kawasaki, only for Lowes to get him back through the bends.
Matters would come to a head on lap eight of ten when the close-following Zanetti and Riccardo Russo began to make their presence felt too, taking full advantage of the double draft to shuffle their way into contention.
Indeed, with less than two laps to go, Lowes found himself dropped from first to fourth on the run to the first corner as a revitalised Russo blasted through into the lead, ahead of Zanetti and Marino.
Undeterred, Lowes would use the Yamaha's braking strength to simply scythe past all three bikes into the Roggia chicane, a critical move at a critical time that left Marino, Zanetti and Russo tripping over one another in response.
As such, when Lowes entered the final lap, only Zanetti was close enough to speed past, but Lowes would simply respond by out-braking him into turn one to nose back ahead.
Even when Marino out-braked himself into Roggia, taking him past Lowes and out wide, the Briton would coolly allow him through before cutting back underneath him.
Eking out the advantage he needed, Lowes would be relatively unchallenged over the remainder of the lap, cruising across the line to complete a hard fought second win of the year on what became a remarkably tough day.
Furthermore, with Foret, van der Mark and Sofuoglu failing to score, Lowes now heads up the standings with 70 points, 16 points clear of his nearest rival.
Despite his rather desperate lunge on the final lap, Marino would collect himself to grab second place on an excellent weekend for the young Frenchman, who is technically only substituting for the injured David Salom on the Intermoto Kawasaki.
Raising some cheer for Pata Honda following his team-mate's demise, Zanetti held on for his first-ever WSS podium, denying countryman Russo on the Puccetti Kawasaki in fourth place.
Elsewhere, Kev Coghlan might have fancied his chances of a podium had the race run to the planned 16 laps, the Briton making dramatic in-roads late on to get onto the back of the front pack just as they crossed the finish line. Despite this, fifth place still marks a strong result for the British rider on the DMC Lorenzini Kawasaki.
Sheridan Morais gave PTR Honda a much needed boost with a lonely ride to sixth position, while Vladimir Leonov finished top of a four-way battle for seventh, ahead of Luca Scassa, Vladimir Ivanov and Luca Marconi.
Roberto Rolfo picked up some useful points for ParkinGO MV Agusta in 11th position, while Mathew Scholtz did the same on the still-developing Suriano Suzuki in 12th. Christian Iddon was also back in the points in 13th, while David Linortner and Raffaele de Rosa rounded out the crucial top fifteen.
Of though failing to finish, Cruciani's eventful day ended with a crash out of fifth place on lap eight, while Jack Kennedy was also on course for a strong top ten finish when he fell on lap seven.