Marco Melandri and Aprilia clinches double victory in WSBK’s inaugural outing in Sepang, Malaysia.
WSBK’s first ever race in the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, concluded on a high note for the Aprilia works team after rider Marco Melandri dominated both races on Sunday. Despite starting from fifth on the grid, Italian rider Melandri displayed some excellent race-craft in both races, charging in at the late stages to outride fellow teammate and pole-sitter Sylvain Guintoli who finised second in both races.
Race 1 saw an incident at Sepang’s notorious Turn 2 that took out several bikes – defending world champion and crowd favourite Tom Sykes included. Sykes was knocked out by his Kawasaki teammate Loris Baz knocked him form the rear, causing Sykes to run into another bike ahead and subsequently crashed out with a minor wrist injury. Race 1’s final podium position went to Irish rider Eugene Laverty who was racing on a Suzuki GSX-R 1000.
Race 2 started smoothly until it was red-flagged on lap 4 after the MV Agusta race machine ridden by Claudio Corti suffered an engine blow-out and caught fire, leaking oil and lubricants on the track surface. Race 2 was restarted after the swift recovery and clean up done by Sepang’s ‘Orange Army’ of track marshal. As mentioned earlier, Melandri pulled off another late-stage charge to ride past teammate Guintoli for the victory. Despite his wrist injury, championship leader Sykes still managed to put up a good fight that landed him a well-deserved third-place finish.
Sykes leaves Sepang with a steady lead in the championship standings with 201 points whilst Guintoli is second with 188 points, and English rider Jonathan Rea ranks third with 179 points. The WSBK fraternity moves to its next race in Misano, Italy on June 22.
Check out our extensive gallery below from Sunday’s race. You could also check out more exclusive photos on our official Facebook page as well.