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WSBK: Lowes takes maiden win, Sykes and Rea tangle

Credit: Yamaha Racing

World Superbikes completed their return to Brno with an enthralling race two which saw Tom Sykes, Jonny Rea and Marco Melandri all suffer championship damaging incidents. With the big names falling away, it was down to the Yamahas to sort out the winner of the race. This time, it was Lincolnshire’s Alex Lowes who took a maiden WSBK win, ahead of Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies.

The race got underway straight away and it was the Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark leading, with the Aprilia of Eugene Laverty showing strong too. However, down the field in a battle for 6th and 7th, Jonny Rea tagged the rear of Tom Sykes at the penultimate corner but managed to stay aboard this time. The Ulsterman lost a lot of time but closed the gap over the next lap and a half.

At the turn 11 and 12 esses, Jonathan Rea tried an ambitious move on teammate Sykes. Again, there was contact, as Sykes switched under Rea on the exit of turn 12 to get the run up ‘Horsepower Hill’, pushing Rea out wide and leaving the Ulsterman on the floor.

Marco Melandri was a prominent feature at the front and having taken Michael van der Mark on the previous lap, he passed the Dutchman’s teammate for the lead. However, it was short lived as Melandri out-braked himself into turn 3, bouncing into the gravel trap and having to stop, turn around and then, get going again. This left him last and handed the lead back to Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark – who changed front tyre compounds on the grid to soft.

With Melandri and Rea both effectively out, Sykes was now the man – along with van der Mark – who could make massive in-roads on the championship leader. However, at Schwantz corner, Sykes lost the rear of his Kawasaki and slid out of contention for the win and subsequently, any points. World Superbikes in 2018 was completely blown open in just three laps.

Yamaha duo Lowes and van der Mark were now left unrivalled at the front of the field; try as he might, Magic Michael couldn’t get the better of the 2013 British Superbike champion. Lowes clinched his first ever World Superbike victory after years of trying. van der Mark followed him home for 2nd, making it the first Yamaha 1-2 in WSBK since the last race of 2011. In 3rd, Chaz Davies miraculously salvaged a podium and is now 65 points back of Jonny Rea.

Eugene Laverty made a welcome return to the top four ahead of his teammate, Lorenzo Savadori. This marked Aprilia’s first double top-five since race one at Losail last season. Michael Ruben Rinaldi on the Junior Team Aruba.IT Ducati took a career best of 6th, whilst Leon Camier, Xavi Fores, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Roman Ramos completed the rest of the top ten.

Loris Baz completed a difficult weekend to finish 11th, with Jake Gagne matching his season best of 12th with fellow American and Honda rider PJ Jacobsen 13th. Yonny Hernandez scored points again in 14th, making it the first time this season that he has scored points in both races in one weekend. Marco Melandri recovered to 15th, setting the fastest lap of the race.

116 points cover the top six riders, with 51 covering 2nd to 6th. Jonny Rea heads to Laguna Seca with a 65 point lead but he has had mixed fortunes at the American venue. Maybe, just maybe, the tide has started to turn from race two at Brno.

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