PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (AP) — Aprilia riders Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty swapped first and second placings on Sunday in the two races that made up the opening round of the Superbike World Championship.

Guintoli of France, who started from the second row, passed factory teammate Laverty on the 15th lap and went on to win the 22-lap first race by 1.352 seconds. The win was his fourth in the world championship and his first at Phillip Island.

Northern Island's Laverty held off Italy's Michel Fabrizo for second place as Aprilia completed a clean sweep of the podium placings.

Spaniard Carlos Checa, who started from pole position on his Ducati after setting a lap record of 1 minute, 30.234 seconds in practice on Saturday, crashed at turn four on lap 13 and didn't finish.

Places were reversed in the second race with Laverty beating Guintoli into second by 0.418 seconds. This time, it was Guintoli who led for much of the race before being passed by his teammate.

World No. 3 Marco Melandri of Italy, who was brought down in the same crash as Checa in the first race, was third on a BMW and Fabrizio fourth.

The next round of the championships is at Aragon, Spain from April 12 to 14.

 

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