Photography By: Gold & Goose
Aprilia's Max Biaggi took advantage of a crash by World Champion Carlos Checa to win the opening race of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia. BMW Motorrad's Marco Melandri was second with third going to Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati's Sylvian Guintoli.
Checa and his Althea Ducati took the lead from pole-sitter Tom Sykes and his Kawasaki on the third of 22 laps, but was quickly under attack from Biaggi. Two laps later the Spaniard was pitched out of his saddle by a spectacular highside in the fast final left-hander leading onto the front straight, handing the lead to the Roman.
Biaggi, the 2010 World Superbike Champion, had nearly two seconds at that point and stretched the lead to over nine seconds before backing off at the end. The margin of victory was 7.104 seconds.
The win was Biaggi's first in World Superbike at Phillip Island. The last race he won in Australia was the 2000 Australian 500cc Grand Prix. He also won the 250cc twice, in 1994 and '96, but those wins came at Eastern Creek.
Sykes held onto second until the 13th lap when he was passed, first by Guintoli then by on lap 15 by Melandri, who'd started 13th on the grid.
Melandri sped past Guintoli down the front straight on the 18th lap, though the Frenchman kept the heat on and chased Melandri to the flag. Melandri got there .274 of a second sooner, giving BMW their best-ever World Superbike result. (BMWs had finished third on five previous occasions.)
Sykes finished by himself in fourth - his Kawasaki the fourth different brand in the top four - with Jakub Smrz equally alone in fifth on the second Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati.
Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) passed Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike) just before the finish line to take sixth by .023 sec.
In his first World Superbike race, Honda World Superbike's Hiroshi Aoyama was eighth, at 24 seconds from the winner, with FIM 1000cc Superstock Cup champion Davide Giugliano ninth in his World Superbike debut on the Althea Racing Ducati.
Australian Superbike Champion Brian Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) took tenth on the final lap from Lorenzo Zanetti (PATA Racing Team Ducati).
Suzuki failed to place a rider in the points. Josh Brookes, standing in for the injured John Hopkins, finished 16th on the Crescent Fixi Suzuki, one spot ahead of team regular Leon Camier in his first race on the Suzuki.
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2. Marco Melandri (BMW)
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
5. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
6. Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
8. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
9. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
10. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)