Marco Melandri - Photo Credit: WorldSBK.com

Marco Melandri - Photo Credit: WorldSBK.com

 

Marco Melandri gave BMW their first World Superbike victory after escaping a four man leading group in the closing stages. Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes and Max Biaggi also harboured hopes of winning the opening race of the day but the Italian was stronger at the end, allowing to break his team's victory drought.

Haslam hoped that he would earn that honour and signalled his intentions from the start, storming around the outside of polesitter Tom Sykes at Redgate. The local favourite held the advantage until the end of lap four when he outbraked himself into Goddards, allowing Sykes back through. Melandri and Biaggi were right on their tail and the leading quartet left Carlos Checa behind as the reigning champion struggled for pace.

At half distance, Haslam regained the lead at the Fogarty Esses while Melandri seized third from Biaggi. The BMWs were coming on strong and Marco moved into second two laps later by outbraking Sykes into the Melbourne Loop. The German manufacturer looked on course for their breakthrough win but the honour of clinching it still had to be decided between its riders.

Melandri tried on consecutive laps to grab the lead at Redgate, only to see his teammate sneak back through but with five laps to go, the 29 year old made it stick. His cause was helped by a mistake from Haslam later in the lap as the Briton ran through the gravel at the Esses, giving Melandri a comfortable cushion.

Haslam was now forced to fight his way past Sykes and he eventually regained second at the Melbourne Loop two laps from home. Biaggi was still in the mix but a resurgent Jonathan Rea was also hot on their heels and a mistake at McLean's on the final lap opened the door for the Ulsterman to snatch fourth, with the championship leader demoted to fifth.

Checa finished a subdued sixth ahead of Althea teammate Davide Giugliano while Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Camier and Michel Fabrizio completed the top ten. Chaz Davies scored points in twelfth but debutants Peter Hickman and Gary Mason couldn't do likewise with both failing to finish.