BMW factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Chaz Davies (GBR) finished first and second in the first race of the eighth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship. The Russian round at “Moscow Raceway” was overshadowed, however, by a fatal accident in the following World Supersport race. Andrea Antonelli of Eleven Kawasaki fell on the back straight and was struck by fellow rider Lorenzo Zanetti. He succumbed to a head injury later at the hospital. The remainder of events, including the second WSBK race, were canceled.
The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team had set themselves up well for the races. Chaz claimed his best ever qualifying result by finishing Superpole in second, putting his BMW S1000RR on the front row of the grid. Marco was happy finishing fifth and starting from the second row.
The race itself was dramatic. The race started dry but saw several accidents on the first lap shaking up the field. Chaz was able to take an early lead over pole winner Davide Giugliano as light rain started over just part of the track. Giugliano crashed and was followed out of the race by Tom Sykes whose Kawasaki suffered a catastrophic failure with flames pouring out of his engine.
Chaz was able to take advantage of the deteriorating conditions and built up a large lead. Some riders took to the pits for rain tires too early as only part of the track was wet and couldn’t lower their lap times. But others waited and some crashed in the tricky conditions.
Finally, the clouds opened up and a torrential downpour forced the rest of the field into the pits for rain tires. Marco’s team did an outstanding job getting him back onto the track quickly where he passed Chaz just after exiting the pits. Marco was fastest in the wet conditions where he pulled away to victory. Chaz came in second 7.441 seconds behind Marco with Ayrton Badovini taking third giving Ducati its first podium of the season.
Only 11 riders finished the race. Tom Sykes’ DNF gave the championship lead to Sylvain Guintoli (who finished sixth). Melandri’s win moved him into third just 32 points from the leader.