Imola, Italy – Chaz Davies gave Ducati two superb home-circuit wins in Round 5 of the World Superbike championship series in a weekend dominated by a series of destructive crashes that kept bringing out the red flags and played havoc with the scheduling.
Among the South Africans Sheridan Morais took a hard-fought fourth in a fragmented World Supersport race to retain his second place overall in the points standings, 27 points behind Lucas Mahier, while Dorren Loureiro posted the fastest lap of the World Supersport 300 race on his way to a sixth-place finish.
Davies took a runaway victory in a race which was shortened due to a red flag, with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Marco Melandri on the second Ducati Team machine joining him on the podium.
Davies made a brilliant start from pole and was untouchable, leading by well over six seconds when the race ended early due to a red flag, after a big crash for Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) at Turns 17 to 18 – which meant track conditions were not safe for racing to continue.
Laverty walked away from the incident which saw his Aprilia RSV4 RF go up in flames and he was taken immediately to the medical centre for a check up after the high speed incident.
With 12 of 19 scheduled laps having been completed at the time of the crash the rider placements at that stage were taken as the final race results, with Davies therefore claiming his second win of the season.
The ever-consistent Rea picked up more important championship points in second, whilst Melandri made it a good day for Ducati on home territory in third. Tom Sykes on the second factory Kawasaki was fourth less than a second behind Melandri, while Ducati privateer Xavi Fores continued his good form in fifth.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta) produced a good ride for sixth, with Michael van der Mark and his factory Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes seventh and eighth respectively. Kawasaki privateer Roman Ramos and Stefan Bradl on the surviving works Honda completed the top 10, after Leandro Mercado (Aprilia) crashed out at Turn 7 early in the race and Honda’s Nicky Hayden pulled into the pits shortly afterwards due to a technical issue.
The second race ended after less than two laps when Ayrton Badovini’s Kawasaki disgraced itself all over Turn 16, bringing out the red flags yet again.
The race was cut to 18 laps and re-started, with Davies producing a superb ride to overtake early leader Sykes at half-distance and take the win by almost four seconds from Rea, with the world champion beating his factory Kawasaki team-mate for second by 0.603s.
Fores and Melandri took their fight for fourth right down to the wire with Fores in front of the Ducati Team rider by less than two tenths of a second when it counted. Behind them Lowes crossed the line in sixth for more good points, with Laverty on the rebuilt Aprilia close behind in seventh, a solid result for the Ulsterman after his huge crash in Race 1.
Another excellent performance from Jordi Torres saw the works BMW rider finish in eighth, having started from the back of the grid after missing Superpole and Race 1 due to illness, while Van der Mark and Mercado rounded out the top 10.
There was disappointment for Camier, who crashed out of second early on after a superb start, with Kawasaki veteran Alex De Angelis also crashing shortly after, as did Bradl, while Randy Krummenacher was forced to retire his privateer Kawasaki due to mechanical gremlins.
Defending multiple title-holder Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) took the win, using all his experience to beat Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) and PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto), who joined him on the podium.
Having missed the first two rounds of 2017 due to a training injury and then crashing out on his comeback at Aragon, Sofuoglu built on his Assen victory with a second consecutive win to claw back five points on championship leader Mahias. The latter remained at the head of the standings, however, thanks to his fourth podium finish of the year so far.
Pole man Jacobsen crossed the line just behind Sofuoglu and Mahias in third, but was never really able to challenge the leading pair for the lead.
Kallio Racing’s Morais came home fourth, seven seconds off the pace, and about 0.8s ahead of Kyle Smith (Honda), with Jules Cluzel (Honda), Christian Gamarino (Honda), Loris Cresson (Yamaha), Hikari Okubo (Honda) and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta) completing the top 10.
Alex Baldolini retired with technical problems, with smoke pouring from his MV Agusta F3 675 machine, whilst there were crashes for Niki Tuuli (Yamaha) and Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki).
WORLD SUPERSPORTS 300An enthralling race was won by Spanish rider Marc Garcia as he passed Italy’s Alfonso Coppola on the final lap, with Mykyta Kalinin joining them for an all-Yamaha podium.
At the end of a closely contested 11-lap race Garcia got the better of Coppola through the final few corners to win the third race of the season in this new category by just +0.177s, with Garcia’s team-mate Borja Sanchez third on the road; Sanchez was later sanctioned by race direction and demoted one position, promoting Kalinin to third.
Another Italian rider, Giuseppe De Gruttola (Yamaha) finished fifth after challenging for the lead in the early stages, followed by Loureiro (Yamaha), Luca Bernardi (Yamaha), Paolo Grassia (Kawasaki), Robert Schotman (Yamaha) and Mika Perez (Honda), who rounded out the top 10, less than three and a half seconds behind the leader.