Crash.Net WSBK News
WSBK Portimao: Melandri resists Guintoli to win by 0.007s
9 June 2013 CLICK HERE
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Marco Melandri has given his World Superbike title hopes a significant boost with his second win of the season at Portimao after battling back to beat Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes by just 0.007secs.
A race that would go down to the wire as Melandri and Guintoli disputed the lead, the BMW GoldBet rider may have been in victory contention throughout, but he was still forced to recover from being two seconds back with five laps remaining after coming off worse in a robust pass by Sykes with five laps remaining.
Prior to that, five riders initially vied for the lead, with Sykes getting the jump from pole position to go in front initially before Eugene Laverty fought his way past on lap seven, the pair being chased by Melandri, Guintoli and Jonathan Rea.
However, five became four when Rea slowed with mechanical issues on lap nine before leader Laverty followed suit just three laps later when smoke began billowing out of his expiring Aprilia along the home straight.
Almost simultaneously, Melandri would leap from third to first at the expense of Sykes, with Guintoli rounding off the depleted group of three riders having seemingly recovered from a mid-race lull that had seen him slip almost three seconds behind.
As the trio circulated in tandem, tensions rose on lap 17 of 22 when Sykes dived down the inside of Melandri into turn one, in turn running the Italian out wide onto the kerb, forcing him to sit up and roll across the run-off area.
Dropping him to third place, Melandri found himself two seconds adrift of the rejuvenated battle for the lead between Sykes and Guintoli, but the embattled Italian would need just two laps to find himself back on the tail of his rivals.
By this stage, Sykes's challenge was beginning to fade as he ceded the lead to Guintoli at the start of lap 19, before Melandri followed through just seconds later.
Setting his sights on Guintoli in the lead, Melandri was initially baulked by the Frenchman as they swapped positions through the opening turns on lap twenty, but after biding his time on the penultimate lap, decided to strike as they entered the final revolution.
Diving through with a neat pass into turn one, Guintoli attempted to respond with a late pass into turn five, only to run wide and allow his rival through again.
Latching onto the tail of the BMW, Guintoli attempted to get a run on Melandri out of the final corner, but whilst he was successful in reeling him in, he would fall a mere 0.007secs shy of snatching it on the line.
As a result, victory sees Melandri lift himself to third in the standings at the expense of a frustrated Laverty, while Guintoli has stretched his advantage over Sykes again to lead by seven points.
Ten seconds down the road, Leon Camier put in an almost unnoticed run to season's best fourth place for Fixi Crescent Suzuki, the Briton recovering from a poor start that left him 15th on the opening lap to claw his way up the order.
Finishing just ten seconds off the lead, Camier would get the better of Loris Baz in fifth position, with Chaz Davies coming home sixth, Michel Fabrizio seventh and Jules Cluzel in eighth.
Carlos Checa enjoyed a bright start to run sixth initially but would slip back to ninth by the chequered flag, while Federico Sandi, Vittorio Iannuzzo and Ivan Clementi picked up points in tenth, eleventh and twelfth as the only other riders to finish on the lead lap.
Indeed, as well as Laverty and Rea, the first Portimao race would also see Davide Giugliano crash out, a still injured Leon Haslam retire to the pit lane and Ayrton Badovini stop with mechanical problems.