The classic Italian track of Monza’s features high-speeds and the World Superbike circus delivered spectacular action there this past weekend – if you added up the time between first and second in both Superbike races and the Supersport event, it was just one second!
In the first Superbike race, the top three almost got together in the final corner and had a drag race to the finish, the three of them finishing in a near dead-heat with only a 10th of a second separating them.
Marco Melandri returned to the top step in Race 1 followed by a second in Race 2, for his best result of the 2013 season on the GoldBet BMW factory bike.
The Italian said, “It was an unbelievable day for me. To finish first and second here in Monza is just awesome and it feels great after we had a difficult start to the season. Race 1 was unbelievable. I knew that my race pace was quite good, even if we struggled a bit in qualifying. Until the chequered flag, I was talking to my RR, telling her ‘go, go, go’ – that was incredible.”
Eugene Laverty took the second victory on his factory Aprilia, following his oh-so-close third in the first race. The Irishman said, “This was a great day for me. After the podium in Race 1 it was nice to end the weekend with a victory. Especially since I was a bit disappointed because I had a shot at the top step of the podium in the first race as well if I had managed the end differently. The points situation is excellent if you consider the double DNF in Aragon.” Laverty is second overall to his team-mate, just ahead of Tom Sykes.
Kawasaki’s Sykes, after extending his amazing record of pole positions (his career 14th and third of this season) grabbed second in the first race and third in the second, but was penalized one position for a run-off and return to the track and bumped down to fourth.
Kawasaki appealed the ruling and it was reversed by the FIM Steward’s Panel, but Aprilia has another appeal level available and has five days to use it, so third and fourth are still up in the air.
The present situation gives Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia RSV4 two fourths, to leave the French rider still in the lead of the series after four of 15 events (eight of 30 races).
It wasn’t a great day for Honda or Ducati. The Italian marque’s lead rider Carlos Checa was forced to withdraw before race day with serious pain in his damaged shoulder, while his young team-mate Ayrton Badovini could only manage an 11th and a ninth. The only other Ducati to crack the top 10 was Germany’s Max Neukirchner, who got a 10th in the second race on his privately-entered Panigale.
The Honda team was disappointed after an excellent qualifying session from Irish rider Jonathon Rea. An eighth in Race 1 after a run-off and two-position penalty was a bad start, followed by apparent clutch failure in Race 2. “It’s been a tough day and I don’t feel like we got what we deserved,” said Rea. “… unfortunately, in a race situation, while I had pace by myself, when I tried to capitalize on my strengths in the race, I couldn’t run the same corner speed. It made it difficult to pass people and that was upsetting my already good entry speed by braking too late … it’s hard to stomach an eighth place from a weekend.”
Suzuki was cheered by two top 10 spots for Leon Camier, still recovering from a bad knee injury to collect a brave ninth and seventh.
The Supersport (600 cc) race was the usual wild battle, with Yakhnich Yamaha rider Sam Lowes of the U.K. diving from fourth to first in one breath-taking move on the last lap to take the win. That gives Lowes a bit of breathing space at the top of the Supersport standings ahead of French veteran Fabien Foret, who was involved in an accident that brought out a red flag and restart, and wasn’t able to join the final race.
Next event, May 26, Donington, U.K.
World Championship standings after 8 of 30 races
1. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 137 points
2. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 124
3. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 119
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 96
5. Chaz Davies, U.K., BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 94
6. Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki Racing Team, 75
7. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Factory Red Devils Roma Aprilia, 74
8. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Pata Honda World Superbike Team ,71
9. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Factory Althea Racing Aprilia, 49
10. Leon Camier, U.K., Fixi Crescent Suzuki, 46