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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.