WSBK Sepang: Melandri sparks title bid with Sepang double

Aprilia's Marco Melandri does the double in Sepang after catching and passing team-mate Sylvain Guintoli on the final lap.
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  • Marco Melandri gets the better of Aprilia team-mate Sylvain Guintoli to complete a double win in Sepang
  • The Italian out-foxes his counterpart during a thrilling final lap showdown
  • Tom Sykes retains WSBK lead with run to third after his race one DNF

Marco Melandri has reignited his World Superbike Championship title hopes with a mighty double victory in Sepang after prevailing in a thrilling final lap showdown over his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.

Having sealed his first win of the season in race one, Melandri came into race two looking to notch up a double win, though he was made to work hard after Guintoli attempted to dominate from the front whilst he fought his way up the order.

Indeed, in a race shortened to ten laps after Claudio Corti's MV Agusta expired dramatically at the first start, Guintoli would lead from the second lap, having been edged by a fast-starting Toni Elias initially, while Melandri found himself tripping over the Kawasakis of Tom Sykes and Loris Baz behind.

With Guintoli forging ahead, Melandri attempted to go with him, but a botched move on Elias at turn nine simply sent both wide and behind Sykes and Baz.

Undeterred, Melandri quickly recovered his form and was back up to second place by lap five, the Italian heading off in pursuit of Guintoli, who by this stage was almost two seconds up the road. An immediate fastest lap in clear air signalled Melandri's intentions though and as the end of the race loomed, the pair were nose-to-tail coming into the final lap.

With both riders testing the limit of their Aprilia RSV4s, Melandri made his first move into the turn nine hairpin, only for Guintoli to grab the lead back on the exit. However, Melandri struck again heading onto the long back straight, preluding what was always going come down to a final corner showdown.

As expected, Guintoli attempted to out-brake Melandri into the tight left-hander, but couldn't tuck the bike in enough to prevent his counterpart from dipping back beneath him and accelerate to victory.

A timely maximum points' haul at a time when he is said to be under pressure from Aprilia management to deliver stronger results, Melandri's performance also sees him give his flagging WSBK title hopes a significant boost in the right direction. He is now 54 points off the lead.

Similarly, Guintoli's strong day sees him close the gap down to Sykes in the overall standings to 13 points, the British rider exercising some damage limitation in race two following his dramatic team-mate-assisted exit from race one, the Kawasaki rider picking up a third place finish.

Race one offender Baz, meanwhile, would come home in fifth place behind Elias, with Jonathan Rea completing a solid day for PATA Honda in sixth place around a circuit that the bike has struggled at this weekend.

Following his return to the podium in race one, Eugene Laverty crossed the line in seventh place, ahead of Chaz Davies, while Alex Lowes – who was eliminated in the same Baz-Sykes collision -, picked up ninth position having battled through the pain barrier of an injured shoulder.

Unable to call on the form that saw him qualify on the front row, Davide Giugliano was a disappointing tenth, ahead of Leon Haslam, while Leon Camier picked up the EVO spoils in 12th place overall ahead of David Salom, Jeremy Guarnoni and Niccolo Canepa.

Tagged as: Aprilia , Melandri

Related Pictures

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