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Rea wins after last corner chaos
13 May 2012 CLICK HERE
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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.
Indeed, while Rea had put in a feisty performance with robust passes on both Biaggi and Melandri, his chances of victory seemed to have been dashed on lap 16 when he ran wide and onto the grass at Goddards.
However, he would quickly catch up with the lead group, his firm pass on Biaggi at the Melbourne hairpin leading to his dive up the inside of Haslam at the final corner.
Despite appearing rather sheepish on the podium, Rea's win has done wonders for his title challenge, lifting him to third, just 20.5 points off the lead now.
With Haslam and Melandri out of contention (Haslam would push his bike across the line for 15th and a single point), a rather bemused Biaggi followed through for second, a result that helps him eke his series lead to five points over Sykes, who was promoted to third place for his second podium of the day.
Long before the final corner controversy, Biaggi and Sykes were destined to multiply their advantage in the standings after Carlos Checa compounded his dismal weekend with a crash at the first corner.
Clipping the back of Eugene Laverty's Aprilia, Checa was sent into the path of his Althea Ducati team-mate Davide Giugliano and Jakub Smrz, the trio duly forced to retire. Checa's sole sixth place finish means he has dropped 23 points off the championship lead in fourth.
Meanwhile, Leon Camier turned in Suzuki's best result of the year with a fine ride to fourth, the Briton just three seconds off the leader even before he benefitted from the dramas ahead of him, while Sylvain Guintoli and Ayrton Badovini completed fairly quiet runs to fifth and sixth respectively.
Chaz Davies secured his best finish of the season for ParkinGO Aprilia in seventh position, ahead of Loris Baz and Peter Hickman, the WSBK newcomers claiming impressive top ten finishes on their debuts.
Hiroshi Aoyama completed the top ten on the second Honda, ahead of Niccolo Canepa, Lorenzo Zanetti, Michel Fabrizio – who was punished with a ride through penalty for jumping the start - Mark Aitchison and the hapless Haslam.
Elsewhere, having scored just a single point in race one, Eugene Laverty's dismal weekend ended with a spectacular crash at the start of the Craner Curves.