Van der Mark, starting from fifth position on the grid as a result of his finishing position in today’s inaugural Superpole sprint race, was immediately involved in the battle for second place with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, but backed off to conserve his tyres when he felt the rear start to slide just before mid-race distance.
This allowed Melandri to pass him for fourth but, rather than stressing his tyre further by giving chase immediately, the Pata Yamaha rider maintained a steady pace, saving his tyre for a final push in the closing stages.
The strategy worked perfectly, with van der Mark able to close onto the back of Melandri as they started the final lap and then put in a pass up the inside at turn two to take fourth, a position he then held to the line. The result means that van der Mark leaves Australia fifth in the championship standings with 29 points.
Lowes found himself in a similar situation after losing out on the run down to turn one after starting from fourth on the grid. The Pata Yamaha rider took three laps to pass Eugene Laverty, by which time the group ahead had pulled a significant gap. Lowes also opted to conserve his tyres rather than push to close the gap and risk not finishing the race, maintaining a consistent pace that allowed him to close on the battle for fourth as first Melandri and then van der Mark started to struggle for grip.
The Briton passed Melandri for fifth at Lukey Heights on the final lap and was able to defend the position to the line. After the opening round of the 2019 season Lowes lies fourth in the championship standings with 30 points, the same number of points as third placed Melandri.
Melandri’s fourth place in Race 2, combined with his third place in Race 1 and sixth place in the Superpole race means that the Italian now lies third in the championship standings with 30 points. Melandri also leads the Independent Riders Championship.
Despite a minor technical issue slowing his pace in Race 2 this afternoon, Cortese rode an intelligent race to round out his debut WorldSBK weekend with another eighth place finish. The reigning Supersport World Champion arrived in Phillip Island with three top ten finishes as his goal and he leaves Australia having surpassed his own expectations. The WorldSBK rookie lies seventh in the championship standings with 19 points.