An amazing performance by Marco Melandri on the works S 1000 RR at today’s Superbike World Championship round at Miller Motorsport’s Park saw the Italian rider take a win and a second place to catapult him into second place in the points, just 18 behind leader Max Biaggi.
Race one saw Melandri burst through from ninth on the grid up into third place. The Donington Park race winner passed Carlos Checa at the beginning of lap two and took the lead on lap five, passing Tom Sykes in the process. With the now familiar sight of a BMW S 1000 RR leading a WSBK race, Melandri knew his main threat would come from Miller specialist Checa, already a four-times race winner at the American circuit. True to form, Checa went to the front on lap seven and was able to pull a slight gap on Melandri. Visibly pushing hard, the Italian RR rider narrowed the gap considerably, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process, but after making a couple of mistakes in the closing laps, he decided to play it safe and settle for the vital 20 championship points that another second-place podium finish brings. Team-mate Leon Haslam, who had started from 13th on the grid, finished the first race in tenth, just behind BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team rider Michel Fabrizio.
Result race one 1. Checa (ESP) Ducati; 2. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 3. Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia; 9. Fabrizio (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team; 10.Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 14. Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team.
Race two took place after a lengthy delay to safely prepare the circuit for racing again, a restarted 18-lap race saw Melandri get the holeshot but Checa forced his way past on the first lap. However, the reigning WSBK champion crashed out of the race on lap 5 leaving Melandri leading the race. Before long Melandri had Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies for company, with Max Biaggi joining the battle several laps later. A four-rider thriller followed with Melandri losing the lead on lap 10 and slipping down to third before regrouping and retaking second place back from Davies. With Rea back in his sights, Marco upped the pace, setting his fastest lap of the race as he targeted his second WSBK victory of 2012 on the RR. It took until the 18th and final lap for Marco to take the lead again, which he then successfully defended in a thrilling battle with Rea. It was the race of the season so far and an extremely successful outing for Melandri, who collected 45 points out of a maximum 50 and moved up into second place in the points. Leon Haslam rounded off a difficult weekend at Miller Motorsports park with an eighth place finish in race two.
Result race two 1 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 2. Rea (GBR) Honda; 3. Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia; 8. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 12. Fabrizio (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team; 13. Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team.
Marco Melandri: “It is amazing. My team and BMW did an awesome job. Here in Miller it was my worst weekend last year, and it was the worst for BMW, too. So going home with two podiums, a win and a second place, is like a dream. In race one, I was pushing like in qualifying from the first lap until the end. I tried to make the life not easy to Carlos, I tried to catch him, but on the last lap I tried not to push too much because it was easy to make a mistake, and a second place and the podium was good after such a tough qualifying. In race two, for sure I had a little bit of luck in this race with Carlo crashing. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning, and when Johnny passed me I lost the concentration. It took me some time to catch him and fortunately I could pass Johnny on the straight because my engine was so strong. Otherwise it would have been very difficult for me to try to make a pass. I am happy because the bike is working well on different types of tracks. But my team made a great job, thanks to everyone, to all the guys back in Germany. I am so happy and proud to be with BMW. This is the best team I ever worked with.”
Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director): “What a fantastic day for BMW Motorrad Motorsport! Having in mind the extremely difficult weekend we experienced here at Miller last year, for sure we would not have expected today’s results. We knew that we had made steps forward, but we would not have dreamed of winning here. Marco was with the top from the first practice session on until today. So far we have been competitive on every circuit we raced on this season. And for Misano we again expect to be fighting for the victory. Tonight we are going to celebrate – after our one-two victory at Donington came with a bitter after-taste, the whole team has deserved a real party tonight. A big thank you to Marco and Leon, to the whole team here at the race track and in Stephanskirchen and Munich. Each of them contributed to this great result.”
For more information CLICK HERE