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Jonathan Rea has taken a controversial second World Superbike Championship win of the season after a collision with Leon Haslam at the final corner led to both BMW riders crashing out of another potential 1-2.
A contentious end to a thrilling race in which Haslam, Melandri, Rea, Max Biaggi
and Tom Sykes tussled aggressively for the win, the final corner skirmish had been preluded by a last lap in which BMW had looked on course for its second 1-2 of the day.
Indeed, Haslam had gone into the final revolution with the advantage, having worked his way ahead of long-time leader Sykes on lap 17, but with Melandri progressing to second on the last lap with an excellent pass over Biaggi at the Old Hairpin, the battle for victory was on until the concluding bends.
Allowing Haslam to lead through the Esses, Melandri instead lined up his team-mate for a pass into the Melbourne Hairpin – scene for several of his passes through the race -, but the Briton was wise to this and allowed him through, only to cut up the inside and regain the position on the exit.
With just Goddards remaining, Haslam turned in to find Melandri making a last gasp attempt from a fair distance back, the Italian again going past but running very wide.
Unbeknown to Haslam, however, the close following Rea was subsequently striking for the gap that Melandri had opened up and was alongside just as Haslam turned in. The ensuing contact sent Haslam sliding down and into the path of the recovering Melandri, eliminating both riders from the race just metres from the chequered flag.
Rea, meanwhile, was able to keep it upright as he accelerated to the chequered flag for an unlikely second win of the season for both himself and Honda.
The collision overshadowed what had been an absorbing race, particularly between Haslam, Melandri, Biaggi and Rea, the quartet battling away behind Sykes, who was comfortable out front before fading with six laps remaining.