Max Biaggi has regained the World Superbike Championship lead after an incredible day at the Nurburgring which saw his chief rival crash twice. Marco Melandri slid out in the first race, giving Biaggi an easy run to victory before the BMW man inexplicably crashed out of the lead in race two. This time, Chaz Davies was the benefactor and claimed his maiden SBK win for the ParkinGO team.
The top three of Tom Sykes, Biaggi and Melandri were distancing themselves from the field in race one when Melandri threw it away on lap five. The Italian outbraked himself into the Dunlop hairpin and couldn’t prevent himself from losing the front end of the S1000RR and sliding into the gravel. Sykes was unable to hold off Biaggi in the second half of the race and fell victim to the two other Aprilias in the field as Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies demoted him to fourth.
The second race was dramatic from the start with Eugene Laverty running through the gravel at the NGK chicane on lap one. The Irishman’s late braking seemed to catch out Biaggi behind with his teammate following him through the gravel trap, although crucially he couldn’t stay upright.
Sykes escaped the mayhem but Melandri and Davies had latched onto the back of him. Keen to make up for his DNF earlier in the day, Melandri hit the front on eight but no sooner had he done that, he threw it all away at the RTL-Kurve, resulting in a damaging double retirement. Davies took full advantage as Sykes faded once again to take his first World Superbike victory with Laverty, Leon Camier, Jonathan Rea and Sykes completing a British lock-out of the top five spots.
Biaggi recovered to thirteenth, giving him a 9.5 point lead over Melandri and the BMW team leader has promised to respond at the penultimate round in Portugal.
“Today was my first time to have a double zero. It was two different races, but with the same result. I am very disappointed for the team, which is working so hard. In race one I struggled a lot with rear grip and was losing a lot compared to the guys in front of me so I was trying to catch them in braking. I was braking very hard every time but in corner eight I took a bump and just lost the front. I don’t know yet what was the reason for my crash in race two. I was on the straight and lost the front. That was strange. Now I will recharge my batteries and fight back in Portugal.”
With back-to-back top five finishes, Tom Sykes has closed to within 26.5 of the lead and is now firmly in title contention, although he felt he missed an opportunity in Germany.
“There is a question mark over race one because we used the same kind of tyre that we had used all weekend, the softer of the rear tyre selections, and we have done race distance on two of these tyres. On each occasion we have been able to do 1’55 laps at the end of the simulated race. So it is very strange today. We did 1’55s very comfortably at the beginning of the race then we had a massive drop in tyre performance. It was rear chatter but more like bouncing today and that is something we have never experienced with this bike, let alone this weekend. We made a tyre choice change and went to the ‘B’ rear, which we were not keen to do. Things could have been much better. Some other riders had a worse day than us so I am quite happy to take good points in each race. A difficult day but we pulled points ultimately we cut the championship lead a bit. We will keep working hard for more good finishes.”