Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took his first ever MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race win at the Acerbis Czech Round, in an astonishing Race two which saw championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crash out early on. The thousands of Czech fans present at the Automotodrom Brno witnessed a wild, unpredictable affair, ending in a Yamaha one two and a sixth race winner in 2018.
The front row all kept their positions at the start, with van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) holding off his teammate through the first corners. Lowes would make his move into the race lead the following lap however, gaining the inside line through the first corner. Meanwhile, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) climbed all the way from eighth on the grid to third by lap two, and past van der Mark a few corners later.
The next couple of laps saw three dramatic, almost unbelievable twists. First, championship leader Jonathan Rea went down at turn 12, apparently after coming in contact with teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The Northern Irish rider couldn’t make it back on track, retiring for the first time this season. If yesterday his lead seemed almost unsurmountable, after Sunday there was more than a glimmer of hope.
Next, Marco Melandri, having just passed Lowes for the race lead, lost control of his Ducati and rode through the gravel, immediately dropping the Italian to the back of the field and denying Melandri a return to the top of the rostrum when he was the fastest man on track. And then Sykes slipped in lap 6, leaving all of yesterday’s podium men off the rostrum in Race two. In four seasons together, never had both British KRT riders left a race empty-handed. Melandri was able to salvage a point, putting him in 15th.
With a dozen laps left, the stage was thus set for a Yamaha battle to the end, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), in third, was unable to match the pair’s pace. But this time, unlike when he led at Donington, Lowes’ YZF-R1 did not drop off in the final third: a smart, consistent and overall flawless ride by the Brit kept him ahead of his Dutch teammate all the way to the checkered flag with two seconds to spare. The man from Lincolnshire made his debut at Brno in 2011 – seven years on, he can finally call himself a WorldSBK winner.
With van der Mark claiming another podium finish in second, the Dutchman moves into third in the championship standings, above Sykes; while for Davies, who took an excellent third at Brno considering the issues that have plagued his weekend on the Panigale, cut Rea’s lead to 65 points.
Behind the rostrum riders, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) took fourth, his best result of the season, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) also a season-best in fifth. Brno welcomed more good results for the Italian manufacturer, adding their bikes to the long list of podium contenders this season.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) had a career-best of sixth at Brno, rising from eleventh on the grid in just his tenth WorldSBK race. He finishes above Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), in seventh. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) returned to the top-ten in eighth, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth, and Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) tenth.
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P1 – Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“It’s amazing, I don’t want to talk too much because I’ll get upset. But honestly, its fantastic, thank you to the team and hopefully we can get a few more now!”
P2 – Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“I’m really happy with this result, I changed the front tyre compared to yesterday and Alex was so fast. I knew he had a really good pace so I tried to catch him and stay calm but in the end he was stronger, but anyway I am really happy with this podium, Alex’s first win is something he deserves and its a really great day for the Yamaha team.”
P3 – Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
“Its been such a tough weekend, probably one of the most difficult weekends that I’ve endured as a Ducati rider in recent memory, after some harsh words last night we regrouped and came back with a bike that was able to fight for the podium. I think we got a little bit lucky today but we made a step forward and that was important and it’s fantastic. Thanks to everybody involved because it’s been a really tough weekend.”