WSBK: Double wins for Melandri at opening Phillip Island round

WSBK: Double wins for Melandri at opening Phillip Island round

After taking the opening race of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship yesterday, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team did the double at Phillip Island (Australia) with Marco Melandri. The race itself went down to the wire and was decided by only 0.021 seconds. It’s Melandri’s 22nd win in WorldSBK, which makes him the most successful Italian in the production-based series. Chaz Davies, on the other hand, rode a strong yet unlucky race, and was forced to retire after crashing during lap 12 at turn 9 while he was in the lead.

the race finish itself went down to the wire and was decided by only 0.021 seconds

Off the line it was reigning Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who took the holeshot, but the field remained tightly packed together in a close fight throughout the top ten. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was then able to get past and get away, pushing hard at the front in an impressive show of pace, but it wasn’t to be as the Irishman then crashed out of contention and left the big group to fight it out at the front.

After Laverty’s fall, Rea, Melandri, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) and Pata Yamaha WorldSBK duo Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes were locked in all-out war – and the laps were ticking down towards the mandatory time to make their pitstop.

The first three riders to pit out the lead group were Fores, Rea and van der Mark, with the trio piling into pitlane as the battle remained raging at the front. Davies, Melandri, Lowes and Camier kept it pinned as the three former leaders in pitlane waited the mandatory pit intervention time out, before next time around Davies led the four of the second wave in. Heading out pitlane as the other three blasted down the main straight, the group incredibly reformed almost exactly as it had been but with Davies ahead – and there were just nine uninterrupted laps left.

If the fight wasn’t enough drama already, there was more soon on the way as Race 1 podium finisher and perennial title contender Davies suddenly slid out the lead – having just gained a sliver of daylight between himself and the chasing pack. Rider ok but unable to rejoin, that left Independent Team rider Xavi Fores leading the way, with Rea, Sykes, Melandri, van der Mark, Lowes and Camier concertinaing and tousling for position in the tight battle behind.

As a gap began to appear and Rea appeared to have been able to pull away, the big mover was Melandri and the Italian was far from done. After his stunning Race 1 win managed to perfection, Race 2 was a different animal and the Italian sliced his way through towards the front, passing Sykes into Turn 1 and the Englishman then dropping back slightly as he got stood up. As the last lap dawned, it was Rea leading Melandri and Fores, and the stage was set.

Not quite close enough to make it work into Turn 1, Melandri kept his head down and edged closer to the Kawasaki ahead of him – not quite able to make a move at the hairpin or Lukey Heights, but tagged right onto the back of Rea. Tucking in behind the Kawasaki and catapulting himself out the final corner, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider slipstreamed it to perfection before pulling out alongside Rea, incredibly just able to take it over the line with a photo finish so close, the Ducati box put the pause on their celebrations until the result was confirmed.

Fores completed the podium, with Sykes putting together another solid result at the Island – following his best ever result at the track the day before – to come home fourth. Fifth was another good haul of points for Alex Lowes, who crossed the line ahead of Camier and van der Mark.

Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took eighth and got some points on the board after retiring from Race 1, ahead of Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) on his returning weekend and a first top ten result for rookie Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).

Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) kept his reputation for consistency going in P11, just ahead of fellow Independent Team rider Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing Verdnatura). American Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) took thirteenth after bouncing back from a crash earlier in the race, with PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) and Laverty, able to rejoin but two laps down, completing the fastest fifteen.

So after opening the season with a double, that makes Melandri the first key Championship leader of the year, but Rea’s 20 points for second in Race 2 were a good bounce back following late issues in Race 1 and a fifth at the flag. Sykes is second in the title fight as it stands, however – and next up it’s all change at Chang International Circuit in Buriram.

P1 – Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)“It was a really crazy race, a lot of riders could be fast for ten laps and changing the tyre meant we were all together even in the second half of the race. It was difficult to make a plan for the last lap, but luckily with three of four laps to go I found my speed and rhythm. I knew it was so difficult to pass Jonny, especially in braking, because I wasn’t as aggressive as yesterday. But when I tried to pass him on the straight…I thought he would try and answer me back but not so strong, his braking was amazing into Turn 1 then he was very smart in Turn 2. So I started to plan for the last turn because I knew I was coming out of there fast, my Panigale was working great and we have good speed. I just want to say thanks to my team and everybody.”

P2 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)“I’m really happy, especially with the way I’ve been feeling this week. I’ve been sick since Wednesday so to finish second today after what happened yesterday, I’m really happy. The bike was a step better so I want to thank all my crew. With our exit into the straight I knew the only chance I had to win today was to lead onto the straight…but I’m happy to at least make it exciting for the fans out there, they’ve been incredible and every year when I come here I get so much support from Australia so thank you very much. I’m looking forward to moving onto Thailand now, improving myself, getting healthy and getting a good feeling with the bike.”

P3 – Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team)“It was an amazing race for me, especially when I changed tyres I was able to do a good restart. It was a tricky moment when I decided stop on the first lap I was able to…so after that, I was pushing so hard to lead as much as I did. At the end I made a small mistake in T4, Jonny and Marco overtook me and I wasn’t able to recover that position. But anyway, it’s a very good result for us and to start the championship in this way is more than positive for us – being a private, Independent Team.”

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11 hrs ago

CircuitProDigital

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport win fifth consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors' World Championship!

Lewis Hamilton took his 72nd career victory today, his tenth of the 2018 season and second in Interlagos
Valtteri set the fastest lap of the race - his tenth fastest lap in Formula One - and finished the race in P5
Today's result marks the 50th win of the hybrid era for Lewis, which means that he won more than 50 percent of the 99 races since 2014

The result also marks the tenth win for the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+, a championship-winning car that has now earned its designation as a true Silver Arrow
Lewis (383 points) leads the Drivers' Championship by 81 points from Sebastian Vettel (302 points), with Valtteri (237 points) in P4

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (620 points) lead Ferrari (553 points) by 67 points in the Constructors' Championship - an unassailable lead with 43 points still to be scored in the 2018 season

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, accepted the Constructors' trophy on behalf of the team

Lewis Hamilton
That's real history in the making for the team. If I were to stop today with Mercedes, I would always remember this day and that I was a part of it and that's so cool. This has been a seriously tough year and everyone on this team has fought so hard, harder than we've ever fought and we're the most united that we've ever been - which is not expected when you've had success in previous years and could easily drop the ball. The guys have been continuing to raise the bar. Today was such a tough race for me, but I really wanted to deliver and win this for the team. It has such a big knock-on effect; everyone on the team can now go into the last race and into the winter, knowing that they won the world title and that they're legends. I am so grateful for all the hard work - here at the track, back home at the factories, at PETRONAS and all of our partners - I'm so proud to be part of this team. I'm actually kind of nervous to go back to the factories and hear the roar - I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible. I didn't expect the Red Bulls to be in the race like that today, I thought they'd be in a similar pace to us, but they were quite a bit quicker. We struggled with the tyres in the first stint and they were able to manage the tyres better than us. In the second stint, I was on the Medium tyre and had an issue with the engine, so I was really just trying to bring the car across the line. Max passed me which was painful, but then they had an issue and all of a sudden I was back in the lead. I was on the radio, telling my engineers "I don't want to give it up, tell me what I need to do" - I was pushing so hard at the end, taking every risk to bring it home with a win. This is a high, but I want to stay on that wave and win the next race as well.

Valtteri Bottas
I'm really happy and proud to be part of this team. This is down to hard work by every single team member, both back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as here at the race track - they really deserve this title! It's usually only a few people who are in the spotlight all the time, but there are many, many hidden heroes in our team - thank you all! We kept everything together even under immense pressure, minimised our mistakes and did a great job developing the car - huge congratulations to everyone. The race today was a bit tricky; everything went as planned at the start and we could gain the lead at the beginning, but after that it got more difficult. In the first stint, I was struggling with overheating the tyres, in the second stint, I was struggling with blistering on the Mediums, so we had to stop a second time. I think we didn't quite have the pace today. It was a slightly tougher race than I expected, I was a bit more optimistic before the race, but overall it is a great day for Mercedes.

Toto Wolff
We just wrote Championship history - but winning the fifth double World Championship feels so surreal. Who would have thought this would be possible when we embarked on this mission eight years ago? If anyone had mentioned this record back then, we would have told them they are crazy. And yet, here we are today, having just equalled the Ferrari record from the Schumacher years. It's a great honour to represent Mercedes on the track and I can't thank everyone enough for their great work, both here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, and also for the continued support from Daimler in Stuttgart and PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur and Turin. None of this would have been possible without their contributions and without the hard work and the passion of everyone on the team. I had a conversation with Lewis on Sunday night in Mexico; he had just won his fifth world championship, but both of us were not fully satisfied - because our objective was to win both titles. That's why he was fighting so hard today because he wanted to finish this on a high, win the race and win the constructors' championship for the team. Valtteri had a trickier season than Lewis, but he has improved his performance this year and played a vital role for this championship success. Five consecutive titles - I'm immensely proud of this amazing achievement.
... See Less

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport win fifth consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors World Championship!

Lewis Hamilton took his 72nd career victory today, his tenth of the 2018 season and second in Interlagos
Valtteri set the fastest lap of the race - his tenth fastest lap in Formula One - and finished the race in P5
Todays result marks the 50th win of the hybrid era for Lewis, which means that he won more than 50 percent of the 99 races since 2014

The result also marks the tenth win for the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+, a championship-winning car that has now earned its designation as a true Silver Arrow
Lewis (383 points) leads the Drivers Championship by 81 points from Sebastian Vettel (302 points), with Valtteri (237 points) in P4

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (620 points) lead Ferrari (553 points) by 67 points in the Constructors Championship - an unassailable lead with 43 points still to be scored in the 2018 season

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, accepted the Constructors trophy on behalf of the team

Lewis Hamilton 
Thats real history in the making for the team. If I were to stop today with Mercedes, I would always remember this day and that I was a part of it and thats so cool. This has been a seriously tough year and everyone on this team has fought so hard, harder than weve ever fought and were the most united that weve ever been - which is not expected when youve had success in previous years and could easily drop the ball. The guys have been continuing to raise the bar. Today was such a tough race for me, but I really wanted to deliver and win this for the team. It has such a big knock-on effect; everyone on the team can now go into the last race and into the winter, knowing that they won the world title and that theyre legends. I am so grateful for all the hard work - here at the track, back home at the factories, at PETRONAS and all of our partners - Im so proud to be part of this team. Im actually kind of nervous to go back to the factories and hear the roar - I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible. I didnt expect the Red Bulls to be in the race like that today, I thought theyd be in a similar pace to us, but they were quite a bit quicker. We struggled with the tyres in the first stint and they were able to manage the tyres better than us. In the second stint, I was on the Medium tyre and had an issue with the engine, so I was really just trying to bring the car across the line. Max passed me which was painful, but then they had an issue and all of a sudden I was back in the lead. I was on the radio, telling my engineers I dont want to give it up, tell me what I need to do - I was pushing so hard at the end, taking every risk to bring it home with a win. This is a high, but I want to stay on that wave and win the next race as well. 
 
Valtteri Bottas 
Im really happy and proud to be part of this team. This is down to hard work by every single team member, both back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as here at the race track - they really deserve this title! Its usually only a few people who are in the spotlight all the time, but there are many, many hidden heroes in our team - thank you all! We kept everything together even under immense pressure, minimised our mistakes and did a great job developing the car - huge congratulations to everyone. The race today was a bit tricky; everything went as planned at the start and we could gain the lead at the beginning, but after that it got more difficult. In the first stint, I was struggling with overheating the tyres, in the second stint, I was struggling with blistering on the Mediums, so we had to stop a second time. I think we didnt quite have the pace today. It was a slightly tougher race than I expected, I was a bit more optimistic before the race, but overall it is a great day for Mercedes. 
 
Toto Wolff 
We just wrote Championship history - but winning the fifth double World Championship feels so surreal. Who would have thought this would be possible when we embarked on this mission eight years ago? If anyone had mentioned this record back then, we would have told them they are crazy. And yet, here we are today, having just equalled the Ferrari record from the Schumacher years. Its a great honour to represent Mercedes on the track and I cant thank everyone enough for their great work, both here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, and also for the continued support from Daimler in Stuttgart and PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur and Turin. None of this would have been possible without their contributions and without the hard work and the passion of everyone on the team. I had a conversation with Lewis on Sunday night in Mexico; he had just won his fifth world championship, but both of us were not fully satisfied - because our objective was to win both titles. Thats why he was fighting so hard today because he wanted to finish this on a high, win the race and win the constructors championship for the team. Valtteri had a trickier season than Lewis, but he has improved his performance this year and played a vital role for this championship success. Five consecutive titles - Im immensely proud of this amazing achievement.

11 hrs ago

CircuitProDigital

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport win fifth consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors' World Championship!
Lewis Hamilton took his 72nd career victory today, his tenth of the 2018 season and second in Interlagos
Valtteri set the fastest lap of the race - his tenth fastest lap in Formula One - and finished the race in P5
Today's result marks the 50th win of the hybrid era for Lewis, which means that he won more than 50 percent of the 99 races since 2014
The result also marks the tenth win for the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+, a championship-winning car that has now earned its designation as a true Silver Arrow
Lewis (383 points) leads the Drivers' Championship by 81 points from Sebastian Vettel (302 points), with Valtteri (237 points) in P4
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (620 points) lead Ferrari (553 points) by 67 points in the Constructors' Championship - an unassailable lead with 43 points still to be scored in the 2018 season

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, accepted the Constructors' trophy on behalf of the team

-----------------------

Lewis Hamilton
That's real history in the making for the team. If I were to stop today with Mercedes, I would always remember this day and that I was a part of it and that's so cool. This has been a seriously tough year and everyone on this team has fought so hard, harder than we've ever fought and we're the most united that we've ever been - which is not expected when you've had success in previous years and could easily drop the ball. The guys have been continuing to raise the bar. Today was such a tough race for me, but I really wanted to deliver and win this for the team. It has such a big knock-on effect; everyone on the team can now go into the last race and into the winter, knowing that they won the world title and that they're legends. I am so grateful for all the hard work - here at the track, back home at the factories, at PETRONAS and all of our partners - I'm so proud to be part of this team. I'm actually kind of nervous to go back to the factories and hear the roar - I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible. I didn't expect the Red Bulls to be in the race like that today, I thought they'd be in a similar pace to us, but they were quite a bit quicker. We struggled with the tyres in the first stint and they were able to manage the tyres better than us. In the second stint, I was on the Medium tyre and had an issue with the engine, so I was really just trying to bring the car across the line. Max passed me which was painful, but then they had an issue and all of a sudden I was back in the lead. I was on the radio, telling my engineers "I don't want to give it up, tell me what I need to do" - I was pushing so hard at the end, taking every risk to bring it home with a win. This is a high, but I want to stay on that wave and win the next race as well.

Valtteri Bottas
I'm really happy and proud to be part of this team. This is down to hard work by every single team member, both back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as here at the race track - they really deserve this title! It's usually only a few people who are in the spotlight all the time, but there are many, many hidden heroes in our team - thank you all! We kept everything together even under immense pressure, minimised our mistakes and did a great job developing the car - huge congratulations to everyone. The race today was a bit tricky; everything went as planned at the start and we could gain the lead at the beginning, but after that it got more difficult. In the first stint, I was struggling with overheating the tyres, in the second stint, I was struggling with blistering on the Mediums, so we had to stop a second time. I think we didn't quite have the pace today. It was a slightly tougher race than I expected, I was a bit more optimistic before the race, but overall it is a great day for Mercedes.

Toto Wolff
We just wrote Championship history - but winning the fifth double World Championship feels so surreal. Who would have thought this would be possible when we embarked on this mission eight years ago? If anyone had mentioned this record back then, we would have told them they are crazy. And yet, here we are today, having just equalled the Ferrari record from the Schumacher years. It's a great honour to represent Mercedes on the track and I can't thank everyone enough for their great work, both here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, and also for the continued support from Daimler in Stuttgart and PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur and Turin. None of this would have been possible without their contributions and without the hard work and the passion of everyone on the team. I had a conversation with Lewis on Sunday night in Mexico; he had just won his fifth world championship, but both of us were not fully satisfied - because our objective was to win both titles. That's why he was fighting so hard today because he wanted to finish this on a high, win the race and win the constructors' championship for the team. Valtteri had a trickier season than Lewis, but he has improved his performance this year and played a vital role for this championship success. Five consecutive titles - I'm immensely proud of this amazing achievement.

James Allison
This is an amazing, amazing group of people built up over many years. The skill and the dedication in a sport that is famously complicated - to get all those ducks lined up in a row, not just once or twice but season after season - is just incredible. What was difficult about this season is that the opposition were that quick. We came to the races not knowing if we were going to win, not having any idea whether they were going to smash us. It ebbed and flowed all through the year. We thought we had them punched down so many times - only for them to bounce back up and give us a really tough time, and it's still happening now. The fact that this year has been so desperately close shows that the difference between the teams is utterly tiny - and it was Lewis who made the difference for us this year. He keeps putting it on pole, in the races we can make mistakes and he'll recover it by doing something unlikely on the track that no-one sees coming and he's spent the whole year not making mistakes. He's just the consummate racing driver. We're very lucky with the driver partnership that we have. Valtteri had a lot of bad luck at the start of the year when he might have had some race wins and has not had the same success that Lewis has had. Valtteri has been stronger this year than he was last year, he's been a brilliant team-mate to us all and a huge asset.
... See Less

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport win fifth consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors World Championship!
Lewis Hamilton took his 72nd career victory today, his tenth of the 2018 season and second in Interlagos
Valtteri set the fastest lap of the race - his tenth fastest lap in Formula One - and finished the race in P5
Todays result marks the 50th win of the hybrid era for Lewis, which means that he won more than 50 percent of the 99 races since 2014
The result also marks the tenth win for the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+, a championship-winning car that has now earned its designation as a true Silver Arrow
Lewis (383 points) leads the Drivers Championship by 81 points from Sebastian Vettel (302 points), with Valtteri (237 points) in P4
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (620 points) lead Ferrari (553 points) by 67 points in the Constructors Championship - an unassailable lead with 43 points still to be scored in the 2018 season

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, accepted the Constructors trophy on behalf of the team

-----------------------

Lewis Hamilton 
Thats real history in the making for the team. If I were to stop today with Mercedes, I would always remember this day and that I was a part of it and thats so cool. This has been a seriously tough year and everyone on this team has fought so hard, harder than weve ever fought and were the most united that weve ever been - which is not expected when youve had success in previous years and could easily drop the ball. The guys have been continuing to raise the bar. Today was such a tough race for me, but I really wanted to deliver and win this for the team. It has such a big knock-on effect; everyone on the team can now go into the last race and into the winter, knowing that they won the world title and that theyre legends. I am so grateful for all the hard work - here at the track, back home at the factories, at PETRONAS and all of our partners - Im so proud to be part of this team. Im actually kind of nervous to go back to the factories and hear the roar - I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible. I didnt expect the Red Bulls to be in the race like that today, I thought theyd be in a similar pace to us, but they were quite a bit quicker. We struggled with the tyres in the first stint and they were able to manage the tyres better than us. In the second stint, I was on the Medium tyre and had an issue with the engine, so I was really just trying to bring the car across the line. Max passed me which was painful, but then they had an issue and all of a sudden I was back in the lead. I was on the radio, telling my engineers I dont want to give it up, tell me what I need to do - I was pushing so hard at the end, taking every risk to bring it home with a win. This is a high, but I want to stay on that wave and win the next race as well. 
 
Valtteri Bottas 
Im really happy and proud to be part of this team. This is down to hard work by every single team member, both back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as here at the race track - they really deserve this title! Its usually only a few people who are in the spotlight all the time, but there are many, many hidden heroes in our team - thank you all! We kept everything together even under immense pressure, minimised our mistakes and did a great job developing the car - huge congratulations to everyone. The race today was a bit tricky; everything went as planned at the start and we could gain the lead at the beginning, but after that it got more difficult. In the first stint, I was struggling with overheating the tyres, in the second stint, I was struggling with blistering on the Mediums, so we had to stop a second time. I think we didnt quite have the pace today. It was a slightly tougher race than I expected, I was a bit more optimistic before the race, but overall it is a great day for Mercedes. 
 
Toto Wolff 
We just wrote Championship history - but winning the fifth double World Championship feels so surreal. Who would have thought this would be possible when we embarked on this mission eight years ago? If anyone had mentioned this record back then, we would have told them they are crazy. And yet, here we are today, having just equalled the Ferrari record from the Schumacher years. Its a great honour to represent Mercedes on the track and I cant thank everyone enough for their great work, both here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, and also for the continued support from Daimler in Stuttgart and PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur and Turin. None of this would have been possible without their contributions and without the hard work and the passion of everyone on the team. I had a conversation with Lewis on Sunday night in Mexico; he had just won his fifth world championship, but both of us were not fully satisfied - because our objective was to win both titles. Thats why he was fighting so hard today because he wanted to finish this on a high, win the race and win the constructors championship for the team. Valtteri had a trickier season than Lewis, but he has improved his performance this year and played a vital role for this championship success. Five consecutive titles - Im immensely proud of this amazing achievement. 
 
James Allison 
This is an amazing, amazing group of people built up over many years. The skill and the dedication in a sport that is famously complicated - to get all those ducks lined up in a row, not just once or twice but season after season - is just incredible. What was difficult about this season is that the opposition were that quick. We came to the races not knowing if we were going to win, not having any idea whether they were going to smash us. It ebbed and flowed all through the year. We thought we had them punched down so many times - only for them to bounce back up and give us a really tough time, and its still happening now. The fact that this year has been so desperately close shows that the difference between the teams is utterly tiny - and it was Lewis who made the difference for us this year. He keeps putting it on pole, in the races we can make mistakes and hell recover it by doing something unlikely on the track that no-one sees coming and hes spent the whole year not making mistakes. Hes just the consummate racing driver. Were very lucky with the driver partnership that we have. Valtteri had a lot of bad luck at the start of the year when he might have had some race wins and has not had the same success that Lewis has had. Valtteri has been stronger this year than he was last year, hes been a brilliant team-mate to us all and a huge asset.
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