Photography by Gold & Goose
INSTANBUL, Turkey (Sept. 15, 2013) -- Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty played a perfect strategy Sunday in World Superbike race one in Istanbul. He patiently followed early leader Tom Sykes for the first half of the race and then on lap 13 of 18 he took over and steadily pulled away. It marked the fifth win of the season for Laverty and the first time he’d been victorious in race one this year.
Second was BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Marco Melandri. Melandri was strong in the second half of the race, but by the time he got around Sykes and into second Laverty was far enough ahead that with worn tires Melandri could make no inroads.
Kawasaki’s Sykes held off series rival Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia for third in a last lap skirmish. The race was effectively a battle for the championship lead. With Sykes getting the nod he actually expanded his gap over Guintoli from one to four points (303-299). At the same time the championship battle between the top four riders tightened up considerably with Turkey’s race one result - Melandri now with 277 points and winner Laverty with 272.
Sykes was quick on the draw on his ZX-10RRR and took an early lead with the Aprilia’s Laverty and Guintoli giving chase. Sykes tried to make a break and it appeared he was getting it done, but by lap five Laverty chipped away and got back in the draft of the leader.
The top three broke away from the rest of the field even by the third lap. It was BMW’s Marco Melandri who headed the rest of the field in fourth.
In the middle stages Melandri picked up his pace to bridge the gap to the leading trio. Newly arrived from Moto2 Toni Elias picked and clawed his way up to fifth and was just holding off Chaz Davies, Jules Cluzel and Davide Giugliano.
At about the halfway point Ayrton Badovini retired with his Ducati spraying blue smoke from the rear. A couple of laps later Mark Aitchison and his Team Pedercini Kawasaki was also sidelined.
Sykes’ torrid early pace may have spent his tires. Laverty closed and on lap 13 he made his move in turn 12 to put the factory Aprilia into the lead for the first time. A lap later Melandri edged past Guintoli for third with an outside-inside move through the esses and began closing on Sykes.
At the end of lap 15 Melandri and Sykes swapped second a couple of times. Then going into turn one on lap 16 Melandri made the pass stick. He had a 1.5-second gap to make up on leader Laverty and only two laps to do it.
The battle for third now, between Sykes and Guintoli, was the battle for the championship lead. With two to go Guintoli made a brief pass, but Sykes fought right back and won back the position.
The last lap supplied a lot of fireworks. Laverty held on for the win by 2.009 seconds over Melandri. Sykes held off a hard charge by Guintoli, with Guintoli losing crucial drive out of a sweeper, which effectively ended his chances of regaining the championship lead, at least in this race.
Elias slid his Red Devils Roma Aprilia through the last turn and bounced off Giugliano, with Giugliano holding off Elias for fifth. New Pata Honda rider Michel Fabrizio used his teammate Leon Haslam as a berm in the last turn too, but Haslam also crossed the line ahead of Fabrizio in a battle for ninth.
“That’s my first race one with this year, because all my previous wins came in race two,” Laverty said. “I’m happy because it was a tough race. We really did know before the start how it was going to be because yesterday was wet and we didn’t get too many laps on this race tire. I’m happy with the second half of the race. The Aprilia electronics worked very well and I think that’s what helped me to get this win because in the end my bike was very strong.”
Istanbul Park - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 34'57.650
2. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 34'59.659
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'01.082
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'01.569
5. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.480
6. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 35'13.595
7. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 35'14.571
8. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'19.141
9. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'37.836
10. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 35'37.868
11. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'39.350
12. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 36'37.199
13. Tolga Uprak (CMS-Eypbike Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'40.142
14. Yunus Ercelik (Sampiyon 169 Team) BMW S1000 RR 36'19.417
RT. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 19'45.482
RT. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 18'07.045