2014 Magny-Cours World Superbike Race Two: Thirteen DNFs

As the weather didn't get any better, the second World Superbike race was also reduced to nineteen laps.

Jonathan Rea once again got the better start and led Davide Giugliano but Giugliano shortly took the lead as both Aprilias pushed past Tom Sykes on the first lap. On the third lap, Giugliano overcooked it and crashed at turn seven, low-siding his Ducati.

Sylvain Guintoli passed Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea kept the gap to the Aprilias to around a second until lap eleven, when he too crashed, one of thirteen non-finishers this race. Guintoli kept the lead for a couple of laps until he went wide on a corner, an opportunity that Melandri exploited to pass his teammate safely.

Tom Sykes in third place was having to deal with a faster rider catching him as Leon Haslam had a much better pace in the wet. As Haslam slotted in behind Sykes, looking for a way past, Melandri got a pit board, four laps from the end, with a red down arrow and the number one, asking him to drop one place to let Guintoli, a second and a half behind him, past.

Three laps from the end, the down arrow was once again joined by the yellow smiley angry face. Melandri showed no signs yet of letting his teammate catch up, but Guintoli was benefitting hi his championship challenge by Haslam who looked determined to pass Sykes.

On the penultimate lap, Melandri still showed no signs of slowing down while Haslam finally got past Sykes on an overtake that stuck, going round the outside of Sykes on the long left-handed 180 turn.

On the last lap, Marco Melandri still showed no sign of letting Guintoli catch him, in spite of pit boards telling him to. He kept the lead and took the victory ahead of Guintoli with Haslam sixteen seconds back beating Sykes. Lorenzo Lanzi took fifth place ahead of teammate and fellow wild card Max Neukirchner.

Marco Melandri took the win so as to not annoy his sponsors, and in doing so made it clear he was not interested in the Aprilia MotoGP job offer. Upon returning to Parc Fermé, he was hit on the helmet by an Aprilia manager wielding a Pirelli cap in a joking-but-not-joking gesture of annoyance.

Leon Haslam's podium was his first for Pata Honda and his first since 2012. His third place took three points off Tom Sykes, leaving Guintoli to close the championship chase to twelve points. The next race will be at Doha, a track that Aprilia have tested at and that Guintoli likes. Kawasaki will be at a disadvantage there, but, even though it's at night, it's unlikely that it will rain.

Team orders were given and refused. Melandri put himself third in the championship but the title is now mathematically down to only two men, Sykes and Guintoli.


Pos No. Rider Bike Gap Best Lap Speed
1 33 M. MELANDRI Aprilia RSV4 Factory   1'54.000 257,8
2 50 S. GUINTOLI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.669 1'53.660 257,1
3 91 L. HASLAM Honda CBR1000RR 16.450 1'54.535 267,3
4 1 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R 20.759 1'54.414 253,5
5 57 L. LANZI Ducati 1199 Panigale R 46.689 1'55.380 250,0
6 27 M. NEUKIRCHNER Ducati 1199 Panigale R 58.490 1'56.176 244,3
7 76 L. BAZ Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'03.100 1'56.981 265,4
8 71 C. CORTI MV Agusta F4 RR 1'24.699 1'57.320 250,0
9 7 C. DAVIES Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'27.899 1'58.706 244,3
10 59 N. CANEPA Ducati 1199 Panigale R EVO 1'51.706 1'59.148 240,5
11 9 F. FORET Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1 Lap 2'02.273 230,8
12 16 G. RIZMAYER BMW S1000 RR EVO 2 Laps 2'08.489 225,9
13 10 I. TOTH BMW S1000 RR 2 Laps 2'10.289 201,1
RET 67 B. STARING Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 3 Laps 1'57.972 249,4
RET 58 E. LAVERTY Suzuki GSX-R1000 5 Laps 1'55.966 256,5
RET 212 X. FORES Ducati 1199 Panigale R 7 Laps 1'55.929 246,6
RET 11 J. GUARNONI Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 7 Laps 1'57.790 244,9
RET 65 J. REA Honda CBR1000RR 8 Laps 1'53.926 266,7
RET 52 S. BARRIER BMW S1000 RR EVO 13 Laps 1'59.231 254,1
RET 32 S. MORAIS Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 15 Laps 2'07.658 222,2
RET 34 D. GIUGLIANO Ducati 1199 Panigale R 16 Laps 1'55.437 254,1
RET 99 G. MAY EBR 1190 RX 17 Laps    
RET 22 A. LOWES Suzuki GSX-R1000 18 Laps    
RET 20 A. YATES EBR 1190 RX 18 Laps    
RET 24 T. ELIAS Aprilia RSV4 Factory 19 Laps    
RET 24 N. SALCHAUD MV Agusta F4 RR 19 Laps    
NS 24 A. ANDREOZZI Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO      


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Although it may be not that much fun for most of the riders, I do like watching races in the wet (from my dry couch, that is). There's always a lot of tension, especially in this late stage of the championship, when the title is coming so close. Things can change completely during races like this; collecting points safely is almost impossible. Even when someone is miles ahead, it's still not a done deal. And Magny-Cours seems to be extremely slippery in the wet, looking at all the crashes with hardly any lean angle. Or the Pirellis don't match with this surface. Anyway I was biting my nails.

As for team orders: I think they're completely understandable and even justified. Motorcycle racing is in many ways a team sport, and it would be stupid/unprofessional to rob your team of a world title when you are (realistically) not in the chase yourself anymore. In 2009 a lot of people blamed or even ridiculed Ducati for letting Fabrizio in the closing stages take away lots of points from his team mate Haga, who then lost the title to Ben Spies on the Yamaha. At the same time many people say team orders should be forbidden (which is of course impossible).

Anyway, Guintoli seemed more or less okay with Melandri's win in race two, being the sports man that he is. I think almost all riders want to win it on their own merit instead of being gifted a win. The Aprilia team will think a bit differently, of course.
In any case, Qatar is going to be a proper thriller now! With Melandri in a key role...

Any news on what Melandri is going to ride next year? I thought he was going to be in a factory-supported 'private' Aprilia team in Superbikes..? Is he jumping ship to another manufacturer?

I think it's really simple:
Imagine if you will the scene in the Aprila garage after race one. . . . . . . .
Aprilia boss: "Thanks for taking the fall Marco, we appreciate it."
Marco: "I could have won that race."
Aprilia boss: "Yeah, we know. Thanks."
Marco: "I don't think you understand. I should have won. You told me not to. So I think I should still get my victory bonus."
Aprilia boss:"Um. No. The bonus is only if you win. Sorry, but thanks again."
Marco: "Oh, so if this happens again, I still won't get my bonus?"
Aprilia boss: "Uhhhhhh......yeaahhhh......"
Marco: "Oh. O.k.".

All conjecture of course. ;)

I'm not an MM fan. Though he is a great rider, probably the best on the grid, I dislike his attitude and always have. But considering the rider/contract climate the last few years I do have to ask:

Do Aprilia pay Melandri
Does Melandri (which is to say his personal sponsors) pay Aprilia?

Anybody know the answer?