World Superbike Moscow race report—Sykes, Melandri share wins
BMW’s Marco Melandri takes over the World Superbike points lead at Moscow with Race 2 victory as Max Biaggi crashes out; Sykes dominates Race 1, finishes second in Race 2 to take over third place in championship
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes jumped out to a commanding lead in the damp conditions that the British rider parlayed into a Race 1 win.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes took a well-deserved win in Race 1 at Moscow World Superbike.
Marco Melandri took over the WSBK championship points lead with his victory in Race 2 at Moscow.
The World Superbike Championship title chase was blown wide open at the newly constructed Moscow Raceway in Russia as BMW’s Marco Melandri took over the points lead by winning Race 2 and finishing second in Race 1, while previous points leader Max Biaggi was lucky to finish on the podium in the first event, and then crashed out of the second race. Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes now seems to be able to translate his scorching qualifying pace into the races, as the British rider easily won the first race, and then finished a strong second in the other at a tight and twisty circuit that initially seemed to favor the twin-cylinder Ducatis. Sykes now takes over third in the championship, after the Althea Racing Ducati pair of Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano saw their practice/qualifying speed end up in a weekend they’d rather forget.
Race 1 started in tricky damp/drying conditions after a morning downpour wet the circuit, but the lead World Superbike riders all started on slicks at Moscow. Sykes wasn’t concerned with the dodgy pavement and quickly grabbed the lead into the first turn, aggressively attacking the circuit and building a huge lead by mid-race. With the Kawasaki rider running away, all the attention was focused on the battle for second that ultimately resulted in numerous riders crashing out. First to drop out was Checa on lap three, with the Ducati rider colliding with Honda WSBK’s Jonathan Rea under braking for the final corner and crashing out, unable to restart his Ducati.
A five-rider pack consisting of BMW’s Leon Haslam, Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty, Giugliano, Rea, and ParkinGO Aprilia’s Chaz Davies then took up the fight over second at Moscow. Rea would crash out on lap 13, losing the front end under braking, with Giugliano crasing out three laps later. Tire issues forced Laverty to eventually give up the runner-up spot to Davies and Haslam, but then those two eventually tried to occupy the same spot on the track a few laps later, resulting in Haslam crashing out of the race and Davies running off the track. The commotion allowed Melandri to quietly take over second, with Biaggi taking a gifted third place and valuable World Superbike championship points when Laverty was given team orders to let his teammate by.
“Carlos made history yesterday with the first pole (at Moscow Raceway),” said Sykes about Checa’s Superpole World Superbike qualifying form, “but like all season, I’d certainly trade my pole for a race win, and today that’s happened. Myself and Kawasaki have gone down in the history books and it’s great, absolutely fantastic. The race went very smoothly for myself; I heard there’s been a lot of commotion happening behind me. We did a lot of work on race tires, and looks like today it’s paid off finally. We stayed consistent throughout the race, had a good feeling with the ZX-10R, we’ve got full points and hopefully we can do similar in Race 2.” Having renewed his contract for 2013 with the Kawasaki team this weekend, Sykes is looking to continue his momentum not only for next year, but this season as well, as he’s still in with a shout for the title. “Yeah, continuity is fantastic, working with Kawasaki and all the team and all the sponsors we’ve got is priceless, it’s an absolutely fantastic team. To continue for next year is awesome, and like you said, you know, we’re in with a shout this year. We’ve come a long way, worked very hard, and we’ll keep quiet and hopefully make it count this year as well.”
Race 2 began with Sykes once again pulling the holeshot and grabbing the lead while Melandri had his hands full with Laverty, Biaggi, Rea, and Haslam. It all came undone for Biaggi on lap ten when contact with Rea down Moscow Raceway’s long straight forced the Aprilia rider to enter the turn too hot, causing Biaggi to run into the back of a hapless Haslam and take both out of the race. Melandri then hunted down Sykes, passing him in the final corner on lap 13 to take over the lead. Sykes then was forced to hold off the battling Laverty/Rea/Checa trio, which ended up in a mess when Laverty highsided on the exit of turn 14, right into the path of Rea who also went down. Checa was forced to run off the track but eventually recovered for fourth, with Davies taking over third after the mishap.
“Thanks to Clinica Mobile, they help me out also,” said Melandri about being treated for back issues between World Superbike races at Moscow. “I had a back problem before and they give me big help. It’s been an awesome race for me because Race 1 was very tough, and to finish second was for me like a win. But Race 2 I felt very good, my crew chief made a small modify on the bike, and the bike was working very good, I felt pretty good from the beginning. I was scared about the tire, about six or seven laps to go, my rear tire was sliding a lot. I saw the guys behind were catching me but they were also struggling a little bit. Still we have six races to go, so hope to keep going in this way, and we’ll see in October.”
World Superbike Moscow Race 1 results:
1. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
2. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
4. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
5. Michele Fabrizio (ITA) BMW
6. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW
7. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Ducati
8. Lorenzo Zanetti (ITA) Ducati
9. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki
10. David Salom (SPA) Kawasaki
World Superbike Moscow Race 2 results:
1. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
3. Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia
4. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
5. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
6. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati
7. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
8. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW
9. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
10. Lorenzo Zanetti (ITA) Ducati
12. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki