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Magny-Cours WSBK: Melandri ignores team orders for race two win

Aprilia’s Marco Melandri ignored blatant team orders and failed to slow down to allow his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli to take the lead and the eventual World Superbike race two win at Magny-Cours. In the opening outing the diminutive Italian slowed down to allow the Frenchman to take maximum points, as a ‘sad face’ appeared on Melandri's pit board to indicate to let Guintoli pass.

This time the ‘sad face’ made an appearance again – but Melandri did not act on it and stormed ahead to snatch 25 points from Guintoli. The Frenchman held on to second in wet and foggy conditions, with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes ending the day in fourth.

Now only 12 points separate Sykes and Guintoli at the top of the championship table. But one Brit who did have cause to celebrate was Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam. He fought off attacks from Sykes to bag his first podium for the Pata Honda team and reached the rostrum for the first time in two years.


Ducati’s Davide Giugliano got the hole-shot over Rea, but in a repeat of the opening race crashed at Imola, paving the way for Rea to take the lead for the first time with 17 laps remaining. Meanwhile the Aprilia’s were never far off the pace of the Northern Irishman and it was Guintoli who had that added pace and was hot on the back of the Honda of Rea.

The Pata backed Honda had nearly a two second lead at the front and powered on ahead through the rain and fog, but Rea pushed too hard and crashed out of the lead, but managed to remount but ended up retiring to the pits as the bike was too damaged to carry on.

Frenchman Guintoli took the lead, only to be overtaken by his much smaller team-mate, Melandri going into the first corner with nine rotations remaining. Elsewhere Sykes was hanging on to third, but Haslam shaved off two tenths and was neck and neck with the reigning champ.

But it was not a good day in the office for the Voltcom Suzuki team, as both Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty crashed out once again. Laverty was the last rider standing and was inside the top ten, but crashed going into Imola – with both riders coming away from France with zero points.

It was a case of déjà-vu in the Aprilia camp as the sad face came out on Melandri’s pit board with an arrow pointing down – to indicate that he has to let his team-mate Guintoli through to the lead on the 17the lap. But the biggest battle was for third between duelling British lads Haslam and Sykes – but the Smalley rider left it till the penultimate lap to make his move at the chicane and got the better of Sykes for the first time this weekend.

On the last lap Melandri continued his fast pace and did not slow down to allow Guintoli to take the win. Haslam did enough to take third, with Sykes clinging on to fourth, with Lanzi rounding up the top five. Ducati’s Chaz Davies managed to stay on the bike to finish in ninth, just ahead of Althea Racing’s Niccolo Canepa – who took the Evo class win.

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