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Eugene Laverty has given his title hopes a significant boost by becoming the first rider to score a World Superbike Championship victory in Turkey
The first event to be held on Turkish soil, Laverty benefitted from an excellent start off the second row that slotted him into second position straight away, the Irishman appearing comfortable as he shaded Sykes ahead of him.
Seemingly biding his time as mirrored Sykes's every move, the critical moment came on lap 12 of 18 when Laverty got the drive pnto the back straight and a set up a pass into the final corner complex, nosing ahead for the first time.
With Sykes unable to respond as he faded in the final laps, Laverty steadily opened up his advantage to leave his main title rivals disputing the remaining podium positions.
Struggling to mount much of a challenge early on, Marco Melandri would steadily work his way back into contention, getting the better of Sylvain Guintoli on lap 14 and Sykes on lap 16 to secure second place, even if he had left himself too much work to catch Laverty.
As such, Laverty was free to secure his fifth win of the season, a result that does wonders for his title hopes and reduces the margin to the top of the standings to 31 points with seven races remaining.
Despite missing out on the win, Melandri's second place also sees him close the gap to 26 points, while Sykes's successful efforts in fending off Guintoli on the final lap means the Kawasaki rider ekes out his overall advantage at the top to four points.
Further back, Toni Elias's impressive WSBK race debut almost ended in disaster, the Spaniard's attempts to hold off Davide Giugliano on the final corner resulting in contact that nearly threw him off the Aprilia. Nonetheless, Elias would stay upright for sixth place – behind Giugliano -, the former Moto2 champion immediately proving his mettle in WSBK by pulling off several good moves early on.