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Donington WSBK: Melandri wins first race for BMW

Marco Melandri made history, for his team at least, in a thrilling first World Superbike race at Donington Park taking the first victory for BMW after a titanic scrap with team-mate Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki.

The little Italian had been hounding Haslam and desperately trying to find a way past for lap after lap until the local rider made an error on the brakes into Foggy's, went across the grass and re-joined the track in third place.

Melandri then capitalised as Haslam struggled to get back past Sykes and pulled a gap of 1.8s in two laps, eventually crossing the line three-quarters of a second in front after throttling back in the last two corners.


Haslam rode round the outside of Sykes and the second BMW to take the lead through Redgate on lap one before the Kawasaki man took the lead with a move on the brakes into Goddards. The trio had pulled a gap on the field with Max Biaggi and Sylvain Guintoli fighting over fourth.

Sykes and Haslam both then got their respective hammers down, edging away from the Italian rider while Biaggi got closer to his rivals rear wheel. The former WSBK champion put a pass on Melandri with 13 to go but the BMW was soon back past. They swapped positions again a lap later while Haslam returned to the lead with a move into Foggy's.

Having had the wake-up call, Melandri gapped Biaggi and then passed Sykes to make it a BMNW one-two and set off after his team-mate. With eight laps left, he passed Haslam into Redgate but the Derbyshire man was having none of it, re-passing on the next corner.

The same happened again on the following circulation but Haslam left it until Foggy's to re-take the lead. All the time, Jonathan Rea was creeping on to the rear wheel of Biaggi having allowed his hard tyre to come to him. Melandri was past Haslam again into Redgate with five to go but Haslam's re-pass, again at Foggy's saw him across the gravel.

Rea got the better of Biaggi on the final lap when the Italian was wide out of the Old Hairpin and Rea nipped underneath on the brakes into McLeans. Reigning champion Carlos Checa led his team-mate Davide Guigliano home in sixth with Guintoli eighth, Leon Camier ninth and Michel Fabrizio tenth.

Chaz Davies was 12th on the Parkingo Aprilia while Eugene Lavery, on the works variety RSV4, struggled to take the final point, just ahead of Loris Baz. Both Peter Hickman and Gary Mason retired.

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