Motorcycling: Laverty holds off Biaggi's challenge to secure first victories

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The Independent Online

Northern Ireland's Eugene Laverty broke his World Superbike duck in emphatic fashion in powering to a double victory at Monza yesterday afternoon.

The Yamaha rider took an unflustered maiden WSBK win in race one before benefiting from a penalty handed to the long-time leader Max Biaggi in race two.

The championship leader Carlos Checa suffered a difficult day, finishing ninth and 10th on his Althea Ducati as his lead in the overall standings was reduced to 27 points by Laverty's team-mate Marco Melandri. Laverty is up to fifth place on the back of his perfect result.

Laverty took the lead in race one at the start of the second lap and had a tough task fending off Biaggi's Aprilia, which had the edge on the straights. But Laverty had the advantage into the braking zones and Biaggi's threat finally receded when a string of errors saw him lose time that he was unable to recover.

Biaggi held station to come home in second with Britain's Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in third, just ahead of Melandri.

Race two was settled in a fine contest between Yamaha team-mates Laverty and Melandri, but not before Biaggi was penalised for cutting a chicane. The Italian was comfortably leading by five seconds when he made the error midway through the 18-lap race, which triggered a ride-through penalty that set up a grandstand finish between the competing Yamahas.

Laverty's charge back into contention had been particularly impressive after his entanglement in a multi-bike accident on the opening lap – triggered by – dropped him to ninth.

But the 24-year-old mounted a thrilling comeback to latch on to the tail of Melandri in the closing stages, and his recovery was completed in thrilling fashion in the final corner as he passed the sister Yamaha to claim a victory to eclipse his first. Third place went to Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare).