Marco Melandri held off the challenge of Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa to win a tense first race at Brno which was decided by just a quarter of a second. The three title contenders ran nose-to-tail for much of the race but a physical move three laps from home secured victory for the Yamaha rider.
At the start, Biaggi stormed into the lead from pole position and the Yamaha following him was that of Eugene Laverty, who got the jump on Melandri and Checa, with Tom Sykes jumping up to fifth. Ruben Xaus was another rider looking to make up ground but the Castrol Honda suffered a nasty highside at the end of the first lap.
With Biaggi leading from the front, Melandri made quick work of his teammate on lap two and latched straight onto the back of the Aprilia. Checa had the same idea and took over third two laps later but the championship leader had a two second deficit to make up.
As the race approached half distance, the battle for the lead started to increase in intensity with Melandri diving past Biaggi. Whilst they were squabbling though, Checa was looming large and by lap 11, the top three were covered by just 0.3s.
Behind them, Michel Fabrizio was two seconds away in fourth after following Checa past Laverty, while Tom Sykes was coming under pressure from Ayrton Badovini in the fight for sixth with Jakub Smrz, Leon Camier and Leon Haslam also chasing hard.
Despite his best attempts, Biaggi just couldn't get the better of his fellow Italian and after two failed attempts on lap 15, the reigning champion tried again into turn three a couple of laps later. Yet again though, Melandri was one step ahead and put a forceful move on Biaggi on the very next lap, a move that Biaggi had no answer to.
As a result, Melandri led Biaggi home by 0.241s with Checa settling for a safe third. Fabrizio was catching the top three at one stage but dropped back to finish fourth ahead of Eugene Laverty, with Badovini prevailing in the battle for sixth.
After an adventurous race, Leon Camier ended up back where he started in seventh ahead of Leon Haslam who rode well to take eighth after a poor Superpole session. Tom Sykes eventually dropped all the way to tenth after losing out to teammate Joan Lascorz, and just managed to hold off Smrz on the run to the line.
On his debut in World Superbikes, Alex Lowes scored a point on the Castrol Honda after a strong start had left him as high as 13th. The British youngster eventually finished right on the tail of Roberto Rolfo in 15th.
Race One Result (20 Laps):
|1||Marco Melandri||ITA||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||40:23.699||25|
|2||Max Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||+0.241||20|
|3||Carlos Checa||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||+0.436||16|
|4||Michel Fabrizio||ITA||Suzuki||Team Suzuki Alstare||+8.448||13|
|5||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||+11.863||11|
|6||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||+16.374||10|
|7||Leon Camier||GBR||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||+20.075||9|
|8||Leon Haslam||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||+21.399||8|
|9||Joan Lascorz||SPA||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||+21.555||7|
|10||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||+22.330||6|
|11||Jakub Smrz||CZE||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||+22.494||5|
|12||Noriyuki Haga||JAP||Aprilia||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||+24.710||4|
|13||Maxime Berger||FRA||Ducati||Supersonic Racing Team||+27.958||3|
|14||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||+31.724||2|
|15||Alex Lowes||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||+31.998||1|
|16||Mark Aitchison||AUS||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||+34.771|
|17||Lorenzo Lanzi||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||+36.582|
|18||Chris Vermeulen||AUS||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||+45.690|
|19||Viktor Kispataki||HUN||Honda||Prop-tech Ltd.||+1:28.907|
|20||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||+1 Lap|
|Matteo Baiocco||ITA||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||+8 Laps|
|Ruben Xaus||SPA||Honda||Castrol Honda||+20 Laps|