Marco Melandri firmed his reputation as a potential World Superbike title contender in his first season of production-based racing after sweeping to a magnificent victory at Donington Park.

The Italian brushed off the publicity surrounding his apparent fall-out with Max Biaggi after Superpole by clawing his way up the order from ninth position on the grid with a series of bold passes.

Reaching second position on lap 16, though he had just seven laps to reel in long-time leader Jakub Smrz, Melandri reached the summit with just over a lap to go.

A satisfying maiden victory for Melandri in only his third WSBK race, the former MotoGP rider - who followed it up with a run to second in race two - was thrilled to be celebrating his first world championship win since the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.

"I had a great win in race one," he mused. "I was just behind a very aggressive bunch of riders so I had to work hard to keep my rhythm and push through. I managed to close in on Smrz with five laps to go and take my first win.

"Race two was a little more difficult. I was suffering from a head cold and lost concentration a little mid-way. I am very pleased to be on the podium again. We have been working very hard in preparation for the races and we did very well.

"I had a lot of fun and I think we proved that we have a very good package. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. Thanks to Yamaha, my team and my sponsors."

Melandri moves up to second position in the overall standings, 19 points behind Carlos Checa. His victory also signalled a fifth straight win for Yamaha on British soil, though Checa would end that in race two.



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