Marco Melandri stormed to a commanding double victory ahead of team-mate Sylvain Guintoli as the Aprilia RSV4s stamped their authority over the World Superbike field at Jerez.
|The Aprilias running in tandem
Photo: Steve English
The Italian produced two surges through the field to secure his second double of 2014 in commanding style. Guintoli was desperate to make up ground on Tom Sykes in the championship and was content with two second places.
Chaz Davies took full advantage of his Ducati’s performance on new tyres to secure enough of a lead on Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes to claim a maiden podium at Jerez while Sykes recovered from a subdued opener to take third second time out.
Guintoli started both races in determined fashion, trading the lead with Loris Baz in the early stages of race one. Alex Lowes jumped to third in the early laps before he faded and slid out of the race at turn one.
The top ten places were hotly contested in the early laps as Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano, Melandri, Sykes and Jonathan Rea all jostled for position. It was Melandri who showed the greatest menace though. Starting from seventh, he made his way up the order and caught Baz on lap 14.
Entering the Dry Sac hairpin, Melandri out-braked Baz, running slightly wide in the process. The Frenchman was unable to adjust his racing line and braked too hard, losing the front.
“In race one I touched with Melandri on my handlebar – and that is racing sometimes. Maybe I did not give him enough space when I saw him,” said Baz after the race.
From then the result was inevitable. Melandri quickly caught Guintoli and the decisive move came on lap sixteen with the Italian eventually coming home 1.3 seconds ahead.
Behind Chaz Davies fought against diminishing grip to take his fourth podium of the year from Rea, Sykes and Eugene Laverty.
“In race one, the bike was really behaving well in the opening stages and I was able to make some fast laps but then, from about lap eight onwards, it became increasingly difficult to manage the drop in grip,” said Davies.
Race two followed a similar pattern as Guintoli again jumped into the lead with Sykes not far behind. By mid distance Melandri had climbed to third and reeled the pair in, passing both on his way to an emphatic double.
“The second race was a bit more difficult because with the higher temperatures the track has less grip. I tried to be consistent even though I wasn’t really fast at the beginning of the race, but I managed to maintain my pace steadily, making up places over my rivals.”
Guintoli had no answer for his pace in the latter stages of both races but was content to trim Sykes’ championship lead to 31 points.
“Last year I didn’t do too well here so I wasn’t expecting to be able to battle for the win in both races,” he said. “I gave it my all, working hard to solve the problems we had during practice and pushing to the limit today.”