Double Turkish delight for Laverty
Eugene Laverty claimed wins in both races in Turkey, putting his name into the mix for this year's World title.
RACE ONE REPORT
As the sun baked down on the Istanbul Park, Tom Sykes screamed off the line easily ahead of Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli into the first corner while Melandri lined up fourth, putting all four title hopefuls into the top four.
Sykes, Laverty and Guintoli began to edge away from Melandri who was involved in an early but intense battle with Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies and Jules Cluzel that played into the hands of the leading trio.
Sykes and Laverty had the better of the early running and pulled away from Guintoli who was being caught hand over fist by the BMWs who dragged Red Devils Roma Aprilia's newcomer Tony Elias and Cluzel with them while Giugliano began to fall off the back.
Eight laps in, Melandri pushed hard as he raced towards the leading trio as Guintoli have caught back up while the Italian dropped those behind.
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It was an intriguing game of cat and mouse between the four Championship protagonists although Sykes, who was leading Guintoli by one point at the start of the day, had the upper hand in the first half of the race.
Behind them Elias, Davies, Cluzel and Giugliano traded blows, none of the quartet willing to give an inch while Leon Haslam, who was in ninth place, was well off the pace as he continued to fight with his fitness.
Ayrton Badovini, who start at the very back of the grid after not qualifying due to a foot injury, was the first to retire, doing so on lap 10 when he brought his Alstare Ducati into the pits with a technical problem. He had been running at the back of the pack and well off the pace. Mark Aitchison retired two laps later as his Pedercini Kawasaki also suffered a technical issue.
Back at the front, Laverty took the lead off Sykes at Turn 12 on lap 12, taking the P1 slot for the first time. Sykes tried to hold onto the back of the Aprilia but it didn't take Laverty long to put some asphalt between the two of them. Shortly after Melandri made his move on Guintoli with a classic change of direction to jump to third where he began to hunt down Sykes.
It took the BMW rider three riders to catch the Brit and he quickly made a move at Turn 12 only for Sykes to fight back at the very next corner. However, Melandri then made it still at Turn 1 on lap 16, putting Sykes into Guintoli's clutches.
Guintoli attacked on the penultimate lap of the race but Sykes came back at him immediately. The Aprilia rider tried again but this time Sykes held him at bay to stay ahead into the final lap.
As Laverty crossed the line to take his fifth win of the season ahead of Melandri, Guintoli had a major wobble and had to settle for fourth behind Sykes, who extended his lead in the Championship to four points over the Aprilia. Melandri is now just 26 points off the pace with Laverty a further five behind.
There were a few last corner dramas as Giugliano and Elias touched with the Althea rider taking fifth ahead of the new boy while Cluzel was seventh.
RACE TWO REPORT
Race Two got underway one rider short as Ayrton Badovini called time on his weekend having attempted to ride in Race One with a damaged ankle.
Another great start from Tom Sykes who led the way into the first corner again of Sylvain Guintoli, Davide Giugliano and Toni Elias. Championship hopefuls Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri were five and sixth ahead of Chaz Davies.
As with Race One, it was all Sykes in the opening stint as the Kawasaki rider showed some flying pace while his rivals battled among themselves for second with the Aprilias leading the charge.
Laverty, having taken second off his teammate, began to hunt down Sykes while Melandri closed up on Elias but struggled to overtake the newcomer who had just moved in WSBK from Moto2. He finally made the move stick after getting better drive out of Turn 11 and passing Red Devils rider inside Turn 12.
As the race reached the halfway stage Sykes' lap time began to drop as the Brit was unable to maintain his pace. This allowed Laverty to slowly but surely start to close the gap while also dropping his own teammate Guintoli who was two seconds up on Melandri, Elias and Davies' battle for fourth.
Laverty caught Sykes on lap 12 and swept up the inside at Turn 12 to take the lead. And as with Race One, the proved to be the race-deciding moment as the Irishman rode off into the distance. Behind them Guintoli tried to close in on Sykes but needed to work off a two-second deficit.
Behind the podium trio, Melandri was running in a distant fourth having broken the challenge of Elias who was haggling with Davies. Jules Cluzel and Leon Haslam were having a battle of their own for seventh ahead of Giugliano who had fallen well off the pace.
Back at the front Laverty raced his way to a comfortable double in Turkey, crossing the line 1.7s ahead of Sykes while Guintoli, despite putting in some late fast laps, had to settle for third ahead of Melandri.
As such Sykes extended his lead in the Championship to eight points over Guintoli while Laverty jumped to third, 26 points off the pace. Melandri, now fourth, is 33 points behind.
RACE ONE RESULTS
01 Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 34'57.650
02 Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 34'59.659
03 Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'01.082
04 Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'01.569
05 Davide Giugliano Althea Racing Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.480
06 Toni Elias Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.595
07 Jules Cluzel Fixi Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'14.571
08 Chaz Davies BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 35'19.141
09 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
RACE TWO RESULTS
01 Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 34'58.775
02 Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'00.483
03 Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'02.827
04 Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 35'09.635
05 Toni Elias Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'10.946
06 Chaz Davies BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000 RR 35'11.171
07 Jules Cluzel Fixi Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'16.209
08 Leon Haslam Pata Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 35'16.458
09 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