Marco Melandri (right) hugs his Aprilia team-mate Slyvian Guintoli after winning Race 1 of the World Superbike Championship at Sepang International Circuit on Sunday. The Italian also won Race 2 for a double victory. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The Star
SEPANG: Italian Marco Melandri raced to a double victory in the sixth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Aprilia rider, who started from fifth spot, rode brilliantly on Sunday to snatch his first win of the season in Race 1 in 33:42.359 over 16 laps. Team-mate Sylvain Guintoli of France finished second, 0.620 seconds behind, while Eugene Laverty of Ireland finished third, 12.865 seconds behind astride a Suzuki.
It was a forgettable race for championship leader Tom Sykes of Britain as he crashed out of Race 1 after team-mate Loris Baz of France lost his front end at the corner of Turn 2 and both came sliding off the track.
Race 2 was abruptly halted in the third lap when Claudio Corti’s MV Agusta bike caught fire. The Italian escaped unhurt but he never rejoined the restarted race.
Melandri won the shortened 10-lap race in 21:00.424. Guintoli again came in second, 0.166 seconds behind. Sykes salvaged some crucial championship points by finishing third.
“It was a dream day for me. It was an unbelievably tough race today, especially in Race 2 as I had to chase down leader Guintoli and close the gap lap by lap.
“Then in the final lap, I told myself to make a move. Luckily, the move paid off,” said the 31-year-old Melandri, who moved up to fifth in the standings with 147 points.
For defending champion Sykes, he still leads the championship with 201 points. Guintoli is second on 188 points while Jonathan Rea of Britain in third on 179 points.
The next round of the championship is in Misano, Italy, on June 22.