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- Marco Melandri defies pre-race predictions to ease away for a third WSBK win of the season at Laguna Seca
- Sylvain Guintoli follows him home for an Aprilia 1-2, while a lap one error consigns Sykes to third
- Giugliano a distant fourth, but Davies crashes out on lap two
Marco Melandri has taken his third World Superbike Championship win of the season after steadily easing away from his rivals at Laguna Seca to lead an Aprilia 1-2.
The race was all-but-determined on the opening lap when initial leader Tom Sykes made a small error at the Corkscrew, allowing both Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli ahead of him, the trio staying in that order right to the chequered flag.
A race that would go on to prove fairly uneventful as the trio strung themselves out, Melandri would cross the line just under a second ahead of Guintoli, who in turn pulls back a few precious digits in his pursuit of WSBK leader and third place finisher Sykes.
Indeed, Melandri had a strong start from the second row of the grid to thank for him being in the right place at the right time, the Italian picking up second place around the first turn when Guintoli ran too deep, before Sykes' mistake into the Corkscrew – which saw him make bad downshift, go in too fast and run across the dirt on the exit – allowed him to nose in front.
From here Melandri wouldn't be headed again, rebuffing a brief bit of interest from Guintoli mid-race before steadily multiplying his advantage over the second-half, then easing back in the final laps to win by a second.
Similarly, Guintoli would end the race well ahead of Sykes, the Kawasaki rider never quite recovering from his lap one error to get on terms with the leaders once again, following them at arm's length initially before eventually fading to finish more than six seconds adrift.
Despite this, Sykes's advantage at the top of the standings still remains healthy at 39 points over Guintoli.
A mixed race for Ducati, Chaz Davies' challenge ended on lap two with a heavy crash out of fourth position at the quick turn six left-hander, though Davide Giugliano spared some blushes by recovering from a poor start to finish in the position instead.
Toni Elias made good gains in the race to cross the line in fifth place, ahead of Jonathan Rea, who might have fancied a better result had he not run off the circuit on lap six and slipped back to tenth.
PATA Honda team-mate Leon Haslam ran as high as fourth at one stage before steadily getting bumped down to seventh, the British rider leading compatriot Alex Lowes, who was a solid eighth across the line aboard a rebuilt Voltcom Crescent Suzuki after a brake issue saw him crash heavily in morning warm-up.
By contrast, Eugene Laverty's difficult season continued as technical issues consigned him to another DNF, the Irishman retiring from running in sixth place.
Struggling for pace on his first visit to Laguna Seca this weekend, Loris Baz was a distant ninth after very nearly beaten by his Kawasaki Racing team-mate David Salom on the EVO-specification ZX-10R, who in turn notched up another class win in tenth.
Niccolo Canepa picked up good points for 11th, ahead of fellow EVO riders Sylvain Barrier, Bryan Staring and Jeremy Guarnoni, while Leon Camier was classified in 15th place to claim a point on his first ride aboard the MV Agusta.