SBK Sepang Race Two: Melandri Pips Guintoli In Shortened Sprint

by Louis Suddaby

Marco Melandri confirmed his return to form by securing a double victory in Sepang after a thrilling final lap tussle with teammate Sylvain Guintoli. The pair claimed a second 1-2 for Aprilia with Tom Sykes going some way towards making up for race one by taking the final place on the podium.

The race was shortened to a ten lap dash after Claudio Corti’s MV Agusta blew up, leaving a trail of flames and oil behind him from turn three to nine. Aprilia were looking in good shape with Guintoli, Toni Elias and Melandri at the front early on but all they had achieved was a front row start for the ten lap sprint.

Melandri ran third soon after the restart and threatened to derail his and Elias’ victory chances with a botched move at turn nine which sent them both wide but by half distance, the Italian had recovered back past the Kawasakis of Tom Sykes and Loris Baz to take second, albeit 1.5 seconds behind his teammate out front.

Setting the fastest lap along the way, Marco reduced Sylvain’s lead to virtually nothing by the start of the final lap and the tiniest of errors gave Melandri the slingshot approaching turn nine. Leaving his braking as late as he dared, Marco dived for the apex but was outdragged by the canny Guintoli on the exit. A second move at turn fourteen looked to have stuck but the Frenchman was now in the slipstream with a single corner remaining.

The victory would be decided by a battle on the brakes and although Guintoli left his latest, Melandri was the rider to emerge ahead on the exit to claim a narrow victory. Sykes took third after fading in the closing laps while Elias snatched fourth from Baz within sight of the chequered flag. Jonathan Rea matched his race one result in sixth, albeit in very different circumstances, with Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies not quite hitting the heights of race one in seventh and eighth respectively.

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