Marco Melandri has come away from the first ever World Superbike race in Russia with a race win and most importantly the championship lead.
In the opening race Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) scored the first ever race win at the new circuit of Moscow Raceway, after a faultless display of front running. A great start from second on the grid kept him away from the troubles many other top riders endured behind him, with crashes helping Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) finish second in an incident-packed race.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) overhauled his team-mate Eugene Laverty on the very last lap to take third place. Potential podium riders Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati), his team-mate Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia), Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) and Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Racing Team Ducati) all crashed out, with Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) also falling then restarting to finish sixth.
Melandri was never under serious challenge after he eventually took the lead in the second race, heading up race one winner Sykes by less than a second after another 25-laps of full on drama and incident.
Davies was third after the three riders in front of him on the last lap were affected by a highside from Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing). Laverty was to retire but Rea recovered from his collision with Laverty’s machine, and subsequent crash, to go seventh. The following Checa was pushed off track and dropped back to finish fourth. Leon Camier was a strong fifth for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team.
Biaggi had a collision under braking with Haslam and neither rider finished the race, which means that Melandri is now in the lead of the championship – 308.5 points to Biaggi’s 290, with Sykes third on 267.5.
Race 1 highlights
Race 2 highlights
Marco Melandri speaking at the end of the day