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25 February 2013

First podium of the season for Marco Melandri

First podium of the season for Marco Melandri

The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team has started the 2013 season by celebrating a podium position finish. At the opening round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, Australia, factory rider Marco Melandri finished third in the second race. It was a bravely fought podium for him after his already injured shoulder was further aggravated after a crash in race one. Marco’s new team-mate Chaz Davies impressed with a fourth place in his debut race on the BMW S 1000 RR but had bad luck in race two, when a crash and a ride-through penalty robbed him of his chances of another good result.

At the start of race one, Marco improved from fifth on the grid to third place. His strategic approach was to save his tyres in the first half of the race and then to start his chase for the front in the latter half. This plan worked well in the beginning of the race. During the opening laps he dropped back to seventh but then proceeded to work his way back through the field. However, his ambitions came to an involuntary end on lap 13. While in third place, Marco was hit from behind by Spaniard Carlos Checa when entering turn four meaning his race was over. His team-mate Chaz gave a great performance in his first ever race aboard the RR. The Welshman started from 12th on the grid but charged his way towards the front over the course of the race, fighting a number of exciting battles. With three laps to go, he had improved to fourth, defending this position against several attacks from Tom Sykes right up until the finish line.

In race two, luck changed sides within the team garage. On lap two, Marco improved to third and from then on the Italian stayed hot on the heels of the leading duo, consisting of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty. Marco didn't let the gap get any larger than a few tenths of a second as he was preparing to overtake them in the closing stages of the race. Marco completed part one of the plan by overtaking Laverty for second position on lap 16. He then started to close the gap to leader Guintoli, but the battle between the three wasn't over. On lap 20 Laverty passed Marco and Guintoli to take the lead, meaning that Marco dropped back to third place. He defied the pain in his shoulder and fought off Michel Fabrizio (ITA) to secure a podium finish.

Meanwhile, it was Chaz who was having some bad luck. He made a good start to the race and initially improved to eighth, but unfortunately crashed on the opening lap. With a flat rear tyre from the crash, he rode back to the pits, got it changed and returned to the track in last place with a gap of a whole lap to the rest of the field. Not only this, but Chaz was given a ride-through penalty after race direction decided that it was not correct wheel change. Chaz continued the race bravely and finished the race in 17th place.

In the Riders’ championship, Marco is fifth after the first round with 16 points, while Chaz sits in tenth with 13 points. In the Manufacturers’ classification, BMW lies in second with 29 points. The two races were won by Guintoli and Laverty respectively.

Marco Melandri: “In race one I was working my way towards the front and had improved to third place, when I was hit from behind by Carlos and unfortunately I fell on my right shoulder. I don’t know why it happened, maybe he made a mistake or he had a technical issue, I just went down suddenly. I am sorry for Carlos, he is a professional rider and I wish him a speedy recovery. In race two, I fought within the leading group from the very beginning, despite the pain in my shoulder. In the closing laps I had Michel really close behind me trying to overtake me, but I succeeded in defending my position and battled for my place on the podium. In this type of situation, it is like winning for me. Regarding my shoulder, I have surgey planned on Wednesday, following a medical examination on Monday to define which kind of surgery I have.”

Chaz Davies: “After race one, I was happy with the points I received for my fourth position finish, but honestly I would have liked to have a podium. I knew after warm-up that a podium was realistic. I was almost a little bit disappointed when I didn't get it, despite the fact that I achieved far more than I expected before I started the weekend here. The race was quite hectic. To overtake in Phillip Island you need to make a split second decision and there are a lot of close moves, especially ones that use the brakes. The bike was working great on the brakes, so that was an advantage. It was a little bit of a shame that I was held up in the very beginning. I think if I could have stayed directly behind the leading group I would have had the speed to move away with them. In the opening lap of race two I lost the rear as I turned in. I'm not exactly sure why. The only reason I can give is either that somebody tapped me or that the extreme right hand side of the tyre wasn’t quite scrubbed in and that made the rear spin around. Unfortunately, Loris was on the outside of me and he had nowhere to go. Of course that was very disappointing but we are mostly taking the positives from the first race and will build on those for the future rounds.”

Andrea Buzzoni (General Manager BMW Motorrad WSBK): “In race one while Marco was making his moves to achieve a podium position he was hit by Carlos and fell off. It's one of those things that happen in racing. I wish all the best to Carlos and hope that he gets well soon. Chaz started from the 12th place and succeeded in his first race on the BMW S 1000 RR and achieved fourth place. He demonstrated that his connection and knowledge of the S 1000 RR is improving. In race two Chaz unfortunately crashed at the fourth corner, the group was tightly packed and it's not clear how it happened. Unfortunately, because of this he was out of scoring points in the race. Despite the pain that Marco has in his shoulder, he has done a very good job. He fought with the competitive Aprilia bikes at the front of the group for the whole of race two. He ended his race in third position, which is an excellent result under the circumstances. I would like to congratulate Marco on this. As soon as Marco returns to Italy he'll have a medical check to ascertain what medical treatment is required to ensure that his shoulder is recovered for the next race. Overall, I'm very satisfied of the work the team have done this winter, in the testing and the sessions as the bikes have improved in all areas. This result shows the excellent work that the newly structured combination of R&D and team have done.”

Stephan Fischer (Technical Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport): “We have proved that our RR is competitive although the results do not reflect our true performance potential. Our riders were able to ride consistently fast lap times, especially in the first race, regularly achieving times in the low 1:31s. Especially in the first race, we had a very fast pace. With our set-up we were well prepared for this track, which is pretty aggressive to the tyres. Unfortunately, Marco had a crash in race one, otherwise he could have claimed a really good result. But our thoughts are with Carlos and we hope he is OK. We were happy with Chaz’ fourth place finish in the first race. The fact that both our riders have been this competitive shows that our bike works well here. In the second race, it was bad luck for Chaz to crash and then to have the ride-through penalty. Regarding Marco we have to say that he had an incredible performance, especially after he fell on his injured shoulder. Overall you could sum up that it could have been better, but it could have been worse. We proved that the team and the bike are working well and we are already setting our sights on Aragon.”

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