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Aprilia veteran Max Biaggi moved back into the lead of the World Superbike championship point standing after two eventful races at the Nurburgring in Germany, marred by crashes for the top two championship runners.
Biaggi took Race 1 in impressive style, for his 21st career win and his fifth of 2012, while Chaz Davies on a privateer Aprilia won his first World Superbike race and in doing so became the eighth winner in what is proving to be a remarkable season.
BMW star Marco Melandri lost the championship lead he'd worked so hard for at the previous round in Russia when he fell in both 20-lap races - the second time while leading. Biaggi had already crashed on the first lap of Race 2 but restarted to battle back and claim what may well be three important points.
Aprilia riders took a clean sweep of the podium for the first time in Race 1, and British rider Leon Camier gave Suzuki their first podium finish of the season with a fine third place in Race 2.
Biaggi now has 381 points, Melandri 308.5 and Sykes 291.5, making the fight for the overall title between the top three still closer, with only 26.5 points separating them. Two rounds, four races and 100 points remain, with everything to play for.
Biaggi pulled off one of his coolest and most assured wins to re-take the top spot in the championship fight, after he took the lead from a slowing Tom Sykes (Kawasaki); by the end of the 20 laps both Laverty and Davies had also passed Sykes, making it a 1-2-3 for the Aprilia riders.
Camier was a battling fifth after a last minute glitch on the starting grid, while Melandri crashed out on lap six.
Max Biaggi: “I could ride well, even though it was slippery basically I could set good lap times. Sykes impressed me with his pace in the first half, and finally he started to lose concentration and maybe grip and I could take him and keep my lap time.”
Davies claimed his and his team's first win with an impressive display of eventual front-running, winning by more than three seconds and easing up, after top contenders Melandri and Biaggi found the gravel traps.
Laverty was second and a great ride from Camier saw him recover from a less than perfect start to come home third, only losing second to a late charge from Laverty. Jonathan Rea (Honda) was fourth, and early leader Sykes was fifth.
Biaggi recovered to finish 13th, half a minute down on the winner.
Chaz Davies: “What a feeling! I got an average start and went the long way round at the first corner. It was risky but it worked and I was fourth. I was comfortable all race, and knew if I could just get away with the front guys I thought I could stay and that was the case, but I didn't expect them the mistakes from Marco and Max! In the end it was just a concentration game to keep the lap times consistent.”
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) won his fourth race of the season by just 0.541 seconds from Jules Cluzel (Honda), leading from start to finish to extend his championship lead over Cluzel to 38 points, with 198 to the French rider's 160.
Third in the race was Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) who also moved to third in the championship after podium challenger Sam Lowes (Honda) crashed. Lowes restarted to finish 14th but he is now fourth overall in the points, four behind Foret. Broc Parkes (Honda) was fourth and rising star Vladimir Leonov (Yamaha) finished fifth but was disqualified after the race for a technical infringement.
The South African contingent had a rough day at the office; Ronan Quarmby (Honda) came home ninth, just behind Austrian rookie David Linortner's Yamaha, after Mathew Scholtz (Honda) crashed out in Turn 5 on the first lap, and Kawasaki rider Sheridan Morais crashed in Turn 11 on lap six, remounted, but was forced to retire two corners later as the bike was too badly damaged to continue.
RESULTS - RACE 1
1 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 38min52.751
2 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +3.027sec
3 Chaz Davies (Britain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +3.127
4 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +12.306
5 Leon Camier (Britain) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +14.131
6 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R +19.523
7 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW S1000 RR +27.017
8 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +33.116
9 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +34.937
10 Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda CBR1000RR +39.132
11 Maxime Berger (France) Ducati 1098R +41.000
12 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R +41.125
13 John Hopkins (US) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +46.925
14 Lorenzo Lanzi (Italy) Ducati 1098R +54.659
15 Brett McCormick (Canada) Ducati 1098R +56.342
16 Alex Lundh (Sweden) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min09.730
17 Norino Brignola (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +1min43.679
1 Chaz Davies (Britain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 39min00.327
2 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +3.022sec
3 Leon Camier (Britain) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +3.222
4 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR +5.705
5 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +7.304
6 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R +7.541
7 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R +14.709
8 Loris Baz (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +19.782
9 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +19.925
10 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R +20.028
11 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +25.653
12 John Hopkins (US) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +29.142
13 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +29.579
14 Maxime Berger (France) Ducati 1098R +36.090
15 Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda CBR1000RR +40.912
16 Lorenzo Lanzi (Italy) Ducati 1098R +50.401
17 Norino Brignola (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +3 laps
POINTS (after 12 of 14 rounds)
1 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 318
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR - 308.5
3 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 291.5
4 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R - 247.5
5 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR - 225.5
6 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 213.5
7 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW S1000 RR - 189
8 Chaz Davies (Britain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 156.5
9 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R - 143.5
10 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R - 126
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 38min13.709
2 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR +0.541sec
3 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R +6.258
4 Broc Parkes (Australia) Honda CBR600RR +10.345
5 Alex Baldolini (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 +18.303
6 Gabor Talmacsi (Hungary) Honda CBR600RR +22.366
7 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 +27.320
8 David Linortner (Austria) Yamaha R6 +33.213
9 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR +33.526
10 Massimo Roccoli (Italy) Yamaha R6 +35.932
POINTS (after 11 of 13 rounds)
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 198
2 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR - 160
3 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 144
3 Sam Lowes (Britain) Honda CBR600RR - 141
5 Broc Parkes (Australia) Honda CBR600RR - 122
6 Sheridan Morais (South Africa) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 84
7 Alex Baldolini (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 - 78
8 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR - 77
9 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 - 60
10 Roberto Tamburini (Italy) Honda CBR600RR - 50