Sepang Race Two: Melandri sparks championship race
08 June 2014 11:15
Despite the Kawasaki's of Baz and Sykes both being fired up for a redemptive second stint -a first corner collision in race one saw both of them crash out - it was the British-based Frenchman, Guintoli, who grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck from the very first lap and looked all set to take the second win for Aprilia of the day. That was until Corti's MV Agusta set ablaze on lap four and the following red flag and shortened restart for a ten-lap sprint.
Not for the first time this season, the reduced race offered excellent drama; with the Aprilia's of Elias, Guintoli and race one winner Melandri taking charge. Elias - visibly disappointed after missing out on a podium spot in the earlier race - lead for the first couple of laps until Guintoli took the opportunity to slip into first. It got worse for him seconds later as Melandri attempted a similar move, ran both of the riders wide, and allowed the Kawasaki duo of Sykes and Baz through in front of them.
With Melandri now caught up in the fight with the green of the Kawasaki's, Guintoli took the halfway point of the ten lap race leading by some 1.3 seconds. With the leading four riders now spreading out, it would take something special from Marco Melandri to make up the gap.
By lap eight this distance was down to less than 0.5 seconds and Melandri looked set to recreate his win from earlier in the day. By lap nine the pair were tyre-to-tyre and trading places along the fast, left-rights. On the final, left-hand corner Melandri took the final move, swept Guintoli out wide and tucked back inside to take the race to the line. It was a fantastic double win for the Italian and will go a long way to silencing his critics this year.
Elsewhere on the track, Sykes took third and Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, the third casualty of the first race crash, looked visibly in pain during the break before the restart and finished ninth.