The first ever World Superbike Championship round at Sepang bore the Aprilia signature, dominator in both races. Marco Melandri’s double win and Sylvain Guintoli’s double second place confirmed the supremacy demonstrated from the first practice laps of the weekend where the RSV4, including the “satellite” bike ridden by Toni Elias, showed just how much they liked the Malaysian track.
Race 1 had the two RSV4s ridden by Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli pulling away at the front from the very first lap to battle for the win. It was the rider from Ravenna who brought it home in the end, skilfully bridging the gap that had been created after a crashing pileup in the first few turns. Once he had caught up with his team mate, Marco overtook him in one of the braking sections on the tenth lap, holding onto the lead until the chequered flag.
Race 2 changed in form but not in substance. A red flag in the third lap decreed a restart for a race now shortened to 10 laps and the starting grid based on the riders’ positions at the time the race had been stopped, which put the three RSV4s on the front row. Sylvain Guintoli took the lead straight away while Marco Melandri battled to chase down his team mate.
In the final lap the two Aprilia riders made a series of passes that were as spectacular as they were clean, with Marco Melandri prevailing after Sylvain’s last ditch attempt in the turn right before the finish line. It was a flying finish, the second one-two of the day and overall standings that were radically changed. This brings Melandri up to fifth place in the rider standings, whereas only 13 points separate Guintoli from current leader, Tom Sykes. Aprilia shortens the gap in the Manufacturer standings as well, where they lie in second place just 4 points from the top.
Marco Melandri: “A double win that was just what we needed! Despite the difficulties we never gave up. We kept working and fighting. I had a good feeling straight away with my RSV4 here. The conditions in Race 1 were difficult but I managed to catch up to Sylvain. After overtaking him I set my own pace. I knew I could defend well in the braking sections and I was able to manage the race to the end. Race 2 was even harder because I also had to battle with the Kawasakis before catching Sylvain. In the last tap I thought I would give it a try. I had to give 100 percent down to the chequered flag. Anyway, all the riders deserve admiration today because riding in these conditions is not easy at all. I want to dedicate this win to Manu, her belly and all the guys on the Team. See you at Misano!”
Sylvain Guintoli: “In Race 1 I thought I had implemented my strategy well, but unfortunately toward the end Marco just had a really good pace and forced me into a few mistakes. I think I did better in Race 2, trying to pull the pin straight away, but toward the end Marco quite simply had just a little more. I tried to fight back and I think we gave anybody watching the race plenty of entertainment in that last lap! We earned some important points in the championship and showed that Aprilia is back out front with a great day. Now we’ll get some rest after this really tiring weekend.”