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BMW star Marco Melandri took the lead in the World Superbike championship for the first time after winning Race 2 at the all-new Moscow Raceway, following up a second in Race 1.
Melandri reversed the earlier finishing order as he beat Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) by less than a second in an intense 25-lapper in front of 32 500 enthusiastic fans. Sykes' Race 1 win was his second of 2012, following on from his success at Monza in May.
Melandri had been stung by a wasp on his left leg in the first race but battled on to his podium finish, then recovered well enough to take an important lead after Race 2 that gave him an 18.5 point advantage over Aprilia veteran Max Biaggi, who'd topped the standings since the opening round of the season.
Biaggi was third in Race 1 but didn't score in Race 2 after a collision under braking with Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in Race 2 that ended both their races. That left Melandri with 308.5 points to Biaggi's 290, with Sykes third on 267.5.
South African rider David 'Mcflash' McFadden, riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R under the Team Pedercini banner, finished 16th in Race 1, three laps down on the leaders, in his World Superbike debut, but crashed out on the first lap of Race 2 in a collision with Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama.
Sykes scored the first win after a faultless display of front running. Despite damp patches on the track surface from earlier rain, his instant speed from second on the grid kept him away from the problems that hit many other top riders behind him, with crashes helping Melandri finish second.
Biaggi passed his Aprilia factory team mate Eugene Laverty on the final lap to take third and what would prove to be important points.
Potential podium finishers Carlos Checa, his Ducati team mate Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies (Aprilia), Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) all crashed out, with Haslam also falling - and then restarting to finish sixth - after colliding with Davies.
Tom Sykes: “Carlos made history yesterday with the first pole but like I've said all season I would certainly trade my pole for a race win and today that's happened.
“The race went very smoothly for me; we did a lot of work yesterday on race tyres and today it paid off.”
Melandri was never under serious threat after he took the lead, coming home less than a second ahead of Sykes after another 25 laps of drama and incident. Sykes had been too preoccupied with the riders behind him to read his pit signals at one time and he missed out on a late chance to attack Melandri again.
Davies was third after the three riders in front of him on the last lap were slowed when Laverty highsided. The Irish rider was out but Rea picked his Honda up after hitting Laverty's Aprilia, got back in the race and finished seventh.
Checa, right behind, went off the circuit to avoid the carnage and dropped back to finish fourth. Leon Camier was a strong fifth for Suzuki team, after some woes in qualifying and a heavy crash in practice.
Marco Melandri: “Race 1 was very tough, so finishing second was for me like a win. But in Race 2 I felt very good, we made a small change on the bike and I felt very confident from the beginning. About six or seven laps to go, my rear tyre was sliding a lot but was still working perfectly with the bike.”
The fine weather that welcomed the Supersport racers to the Moscow Raceway provided perfect conditions for Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) to win his third race of the season and extend his championship lead to 33 points. The Turkish rider had Jules Cluzel (Honda) as a shadow for most of the race but his pace at the end was enough to pull him over five seconds ahead at the flag.
A popular third place for Vladimir Leonov (Yamaha) was a pleasing spectacle for the new Moscow Raceway crowd. Fourth was Sofuoglu's team mate, South African rider Sheridan Morais, with Broc Parkes (Honda) fifth.
South Africans Mathew Scholz and Ronan Quarmby, each on a Honda, finished 10th and 13th respectively.
That put Sofuoglu on 173 points, Cluzel on 140 and the luckless Sam Lowes (Honda) on 138, after he jump-started and dropped to 12th in the race following a ride-through penalty.
RESULTS - RACE 1
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 41min07.852
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +8.878sec
3 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +12.803
4 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +13.027
5 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +29.582
7 Niccolo Canepa (Italy) Ducati 1098R +32.170
8 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +34.704
9 John Hopkins (US) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +40.366
10 David Salom (Spain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +41.143
11 Loris Baz (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +44.363
12 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +47.813
13 Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda CBR1000RR +52.650
14 Alex Lundh (Sweden) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min20.273
15 Leon Camier (Britain) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +2 laps
16 David McFadden (South Africa) +3 laps
1 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR - 40min14.677
2 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +0.976sec
3 Chaz Davies (Britain) Aprilia RSV4 Factory +4.213
4 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R +5.954
5 Leon Camier (Britain) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +13.568
6 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R +15.173
7 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR +23.125
8 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW S1000 RR +23.696
9 Loris Baz (France) Kawasaki ZX-10R +23.884
10 Lorenzo Zanetti (Italy) Ducati 1098R +24.096
11 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R +24.881
12 John Hopkins (US) Suzuki GSX-R1000 +39.643
13 David Salom (Spain) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min01.449
14 Alex Lundh (Sweden) Kawasaki ZX-10R +1min36.596
POINTS (after 11 of 14 rounds)
1 Marco Melandri (Italy) BMW S1000 RR - 308.5
2 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 290
3 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki ZX-10R - 267.5
4 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati 1098R - 233.5
5 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda CBR1000RR - 212.5
6 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW S1000 RR - 180
7 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Aprilia RSV4 Factory - 173.5
8 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati 1098R - 127.5
9 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) BMW S1000 RR -119.5
10 Davide Giugliano (Italy) Ducati 1098R - 116
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 36min13.935
2 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR +5.022sec
3 Vladimir Leonov (Russia) Yamaha R6 +13.018
4 Sheridan Morais (South Africa) Kawasaki ZX-6R +16.504
5 Broc Parkes (Australia) Honda CBR600RR +32.568
6 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R +33.854
7 Andrea Antonelli (Italy) Yamaha R6 +34.377
8 Gabor Talmacsi (Hungary) Honda CBR600RR +34.471
9 Roberto Tamburini (Italy) Honda CBR600RR +37.727
10 Mathew Scholtz (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR + 37.802
11 Alex Baldolini (Italy) triumph Daytona 675 +38.103
12 Sam Lowes (Britain) Honda CBR600RR +42.645
13 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR +2.068
POINTS (after 10 of 13 rounds)
1 Kenan Sofouglu (Turkey) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 173
2 Jules Cluzel (France) Honda CBR600RR - 140
3 Sam Lowes (Britain) Honda CBR600RR - 138
4 Fabien Foret (France) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 128
5 Broc Parkes (Australia) Honda CBR600RR - 109
6 Sheridan Morais (South Africa) Kawasaki ZX-6R - 84
7 Ronan Quarmby (South Africa) Honda CBR600RR - 70
8 Alex Baldolini (Italy) Triumph Daytona 675 - 67
9 Vittorio Iannuzzo (Italy) Yamaha R6 - 51
10 Roberto Tamburini (Italy) Honda CBR600RR - 50