Despite a great start from Melandri in Laguna Seca, turn one still saw Sykes take the lead and - with his qualifying pace preceding him - what looked set to be another race win.
But, after all his ruminations over the hills of Portimaso, it will be the blind crest of the corkscrew that he'll be cursing, after Sykes ran wide, offroading and dropping down to third, behind Guintoli but ahead of the two, chasing Pata Honda riders.
With the race settling into some sort of early rhythm, the Ducati of Chas Davies, before entering the corkscrew for the second time, lost front traction on lap two and found himself flung into the dirt and gravel. This was to prove one of the most dramatic moments in what was a fairly pedestrian affair.
1. Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing RSV4 25 laps
2. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 +0.905s
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +6.627s
4. Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati SBK 1199 Panigale R +13.574s
5. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 +13.855s
6. Jonathan Rea GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR +15.575s
7. Leon Haslam GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR +18.820s
8. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +20.184s
9. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +34.479s
10. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +37.463s (E)
11. Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199 Panigale R +45.550s (E)
12. Sylvain Barrier FRA BMW Italia S1000RR +47.538s (E)
13. Bryan Staring AUS IRON BRAIN Kawasaki ZX-10R +49.750s (E)
14. Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R +49.750s (E)
15. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta RC F4RR +55.420s
16. Alessandro Andreozzi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +58.449s (E)
17. Gabor Rizmayer HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1m 08.922s
18. Geoff May USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX +1m 17.853s
19. Chris Ullrich USA GEICO Honda CBR1000RR +1m 18.084s
20. Larry Pegram USA Foremost insurance EBR 1190RX +1 lap
For the next six laps, Melandri and Guintoli looked to maintain pace whilst avoiding any of the clashing drama of the last round in Portimao. Meanwhile, all of Rea's earlier hardwork - which saw him up to fifth - was undone by running wide at turn three on lap six, meaning that he rejoined the throng of mid-order bikes in tenth.
With the top three of Melandri, Guintoli and Sykes breaking away - but with Sykes not making any significant ground on the two Team Aprilia riders - the remainder of the race proved fairly routine. Another strong ride from Guigliano saw him secure a solid fourth, with a visibly pleased Tony Elias taking a much deserved fifth.