Marco Melandri has more than halved Max Biaggi's championship lead after winning both World Superbike races at Brno. The BMW rider pipped Tom Sykes in two closely-fought contests as Biaggi's poor Superpole session came back to bite him.
Race one began on a drying track after morning rain and the riders took some unusual lines to find the dry tarmac. Effenbert Liberty Ducati's Maxime Berger was revelling in the mixed conditions and led a World Superbike race for the first time but when the water disappeared, so did his victory chances.
Melandri hit the front with two laps to go, taking the lead from Sykes but Jonathan Rea was keen to challenge the Italian and tried to follow through. Sykes closed the door on the Ulsterman and the contact sent him flying over the top of his Honda and into retirement. Melandri was safe, as was Sykes, while Loris Baz took advantage of the mayhem to claim his maiden SBK podium on the second Kawasaki. Carlos Checa could only manage fourth for Althea Ducati with Max Biaggi only making it as high as sixth, right on the tail of his teammate Eugene Laverty.
The second race was a straight fight between Melandri and Sykes which again fell in favour of the BMW rider, denying the Yorkshireman on the final lap after he'd led the previous nineteen. For Kawasaki though, the day represented a major step forward as they translated their qualifying pace into a race-long victory challenge, something that delighted Sykes.
“We started very strong in race two and the lap time was good, then the tyre dropped a little bit in performance but the very small adjustment we made after race one meant that the tyre felt very consistent. I made my own race out in front alone and I think I am quite good at managing it and it seemed to work. We started to go a little bit faster towards the end but I felt a little bit of attack from Melandri. Finally the lap time got affected but it was great to battle with a rider like this. We know he is strong on the brakes but with help from Kawasaki and my crew chief Marcel I had a bit of an answer today. I was not quite as easily dealt with as in previous races. Hopefully we can carry this forward. Having the Ninja ZX-10 working so well at the end of the race is such a good breath of fresh air. It has proved a few people wrong.”
“In race one I felt the hit when Jonathan Rea and I collided. Jonathan went for a gap that unfortunately was not there. I tried to stay with Marco in race one and when I attacked the corner the front was not allowing me to attack so I ran a bit wide to square the corner off and when I did I just saw a bit of Jonathan in my side view, at which point it was too late.”
Carlos Checa was a distant third in race two although he finished comfortably clear of Max Biaggi in fourth who turned the tables on teammate Eugene Laverty. Chaz Davies continued his superb form from Aragon with sixth ahead of Leon Haslam and Loris Baz.