Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty played a perfect strategy last Sunday in World Superbike race one in Istanbul. He patiently followed early leader Tom Sykes for the first half of the race and then on lap 13 of 18 he took over and steadily pulled away. It marked the fifth win of the season for Laverty and the first time he’d been victorious in race one this year.
Second was BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Marco Melandri. Melandri was strong in the second half of the race, but by the time he got around Sykes and into second Laverty was far enough ahead that with worn tires Melandri could make no inroads.
Kawasaki’s Sykes held off series rival Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia for third in a last lap skirmish. The race was effectively a battle for the championship lead. With Sykes getting the nod he actually expanded his gap over Guintoli from one to four points (303-299). At the same time the championship battle between the top four riders tightened up considerably with Turkey’s race one result - Melandri now with 277 points and winner Laverty with 272.
Sykes was quick on the draw on his ZX-10RRR and took an early lead with the Aprilia’s Laverty and Guintoli giving chase. Sykes tried to make a break and it appeared he was getting it done, but by lap five Laverty chipped away and got back in the draft of the leader.
The top three broke away from the rest of the field even by the third lap. It was BMW’s Marco Melandri who headed the rest of the field in fourth.
In the middle stages Melandri picked up his pace to bridge the gap to the leading trio. Newly arrived from Moto2 Toni Elias picked and clawed his way up to fifth and was just holding off Chaz Davies, Jules Cluzel and Davide Giugliano.
At about the halfway point Ayrton Badovini retired with his Ducati spraying blue smoke from the rear. A couple of laps later Mark Aitchison and his Team Pedercini Kawasaki was also sidelined.
Sykes’ torrid early pace may have spent his tires. Laverty closed and on lap 13 he made his move in turn 12 to put the factory Aprilia into the lead for the first time. A lap later Melandri edged past Guintoli for third with an outside-inside move through the esses and began closing on Sykes.
At the end of lap 15 Melandri and Sykes swapped second a couple of times. Then going into turn one on lap 16 Melandri made the pass stick. He had a 1.5-second gap to make up on leader Laverty and only two laps to do it.
The battle for third now, between Sykes and Guintoli, was the battle for the championship lead. With two to go Guintoli made a brief pass, but Sykes fought right back and won back the position.
The last lap supplied a lot of fireworks. Laverty held on for the win by 2.009 seconds over Melandri. Sykes held off a hard charge by Guintoli, with Guintoli losing crucial drive out of a sweeper, which effectively ended his chances of regaining the championship lead, at least in this race.
Elias slid his Red Devils Roma Aprilia through the last turn and bounced off Giugliano, with Giugliano holding off Elias for fifth. New Pata Honda rider Michel Fabrizio used his teammate Leon Haslam as a berm in the last turn too, but Haslam also crossed the line ahead of Fabrizio in a battle for ninth.
Istanbul Park - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 34'57.650
2. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 34'59.659
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'01.082
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'01.569
5. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.480
6. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.595
7. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'14.571
8. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'19.141
9. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'37.836
10. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'37.868
11. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'39.350
12. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'37.199
13. Tolga Uprak (CMS-Eypbike Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'40.142
14. Yunus Ercelik (Sampiyon 169 Team) BMW S1000 RR 36'19.417
RT. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 19'45.482
RT. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 18'07.045
Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty made it a clean sweep at Istanbul Park on Sunday, scoring the victory in race two of the World Superbike Championship in Turkey. The victory, that played out almost exactly as race one where he passed early leader Tom Sykes, moved Laverty into third in the standings and is now just 26 points out of the series lead making him a true championship contender. It marked the sixth win for Laverty this season, matching the win total of Sykes.
Sykes and his Kawasaki were improved in race two. He stayed closer to Laverty once the pass was made, but there was no question the Aprilia was the motorcycle to beat on this weekend. Sykes was blazing at the start. He blasted off the line on his Kawasaki and stretched out a 0.6 second lead on the first lap. Sylvain Guintoli, Davide Giugliano and Eugene Laverty battled close for second in the opening laps.
As Sykes stretched his lead race one winner Laverty was again on the move. In the next few laps he moved past both Giugliano and Aprilia teammate Guintoli to move into second. He was about 1.4 seconds back from Sykes by the time he broke through. By lap six Toni Elias and Marco Melandri were fighting over fourth and trying not to lose touch with the leading trio. Melandri outbraked Elias into the esses to take over the position.
Just under halfway the factory Aprilia looked stronger as the tires wore and Laverty steadily chipped away at Sykes’ lead at one or two tenths a second. By lap eight it was down to just over a second between the leading duo. Guintoli was all alone in third with Melandri and Elias giving chase in fourth and fifth.
By lap 11 Laverty got the gap under a second and was gaining fast. It was obvious that Sykes was struggling to maintain his leading pace. On lap 13 the inevitable happened and Laverty took over the lead with a clean move through the esses. He appeared unstoppable en route to a double win.
In the closing laps Laverty cruised home to victory with a 1.7-second margin. Sykes held off a late charging Guintoli for second. Melandri was alone in fourth, while his BMW teammate Chaz Davies had a fantastic late-race battle with Elias. Elias came out on top, the former Moto2 world champ taking the last turn a bit stronger than his rival.
The result of the race had Sykes opening up his lead on Guintoli to eight points (from one point entering the weekend) and Laverty moving past Melandri as he gets in the mix for the championship. Next up for the series is Laguna Seca. ––Paul Duchene
Istanbul Park - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 2
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 34'58.775
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'00.483
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'02.827
4. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'09.635
5. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'10.946
6. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'11.171
7. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'16.209
8. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'16.458
9. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'24.545
10. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'37.510
11. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'47.667
12. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'47.911
13. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'35.364
14. Tolga Uprak (CMS-Eypbike Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'31.608
15. Yunus Ercelik (Sampiyon 169 Team) BMW S1000 RR 35'45.795
WSBK POINT STANDINGS