Checa extends Superbike points lead
Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa have taken race victories at Donington in the UK, the second round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship, with the Spaniard extending his championship lead.
In front of 51,500 spectators Superpole winner Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) used his experience to change his rear tyre choice for race two and improve from a third place to be a clear winner, while Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) made two great recoveries from a third row start to post a win and a second place.
Jakub Smrz (Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati) nearly won the first race, with the local fans having something to cheer about as Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) finished third in race two, to make up for a hard first round in Australia that was badly affected by illness.
2010 World Champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) had his drama-laden weekend turn into a mini-crisis as he finished only seventh in race one, and was excluded from race two after a jump start and failing to come in for a ride-through penalty. In the overall championship third place belongs to Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) on 53 points after two fourths today, while Biaggi has 49 points in fourth overall.
New rider to WSBK racing Melandri took only three races to record his first win, finally overhauling long time leader Smrz to win by 2.455 seconds. The last podium place went to Checa after he passed local hero Haslam with two corners to go. Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) scored fifth and Noriyuki Haga (Pata Racing Aprilia) was sixth, one place up on the factory bike of Biaggi. A potentially great finish for Tom Sykes and his Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike machine ended in a crash at the redesigned Esses section, but the home crowd were to have a podium star to cheer for in race two.
“It has been an awesome race for me, very tough and at the start many guys were very aggressive,” said Melandri.
“I kept my rhythm and when I got on my own I caught Camier and some others then it took some time to get to Haslam. After that it was only a few laps to go and Kuba was pretty far ahead. I just kept the best pace I could and in the end Smrz’s pace was gone and I passed him. We missed a little bit of top speed but the package was very balanced, we won and I had a lot of fun.”
Checa controlled race two from the early laps and won by 3.397 seconds from race one victor Melandri. Camier was a contender for second for long periods, before Melandri upped the pace and left him behind. Another Leon, this time Haslam went fourth for the second time today, despite running off track at one point. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) was a great fifth on the new ZX-10R machine, despite not yet being at full fitness. With Rea sixth for Honda and race one retiree Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) seventh in race two there were seven different manufacturers represented in the top seven places, proving how competitive the 2011 season is after only two rounds.
“It is a fantastic beginning to the season, especially this victory in Donington, which is something special,” said Checa.
“Basically we decided to put on a different tyre with better grip at the beginning, so now I was stable and had good grip. At the end the tyre dropped down a little but it was good enough. Everybody knows what happened here to me many years ago, when I lost something so now I’m quite satisfied to win at Donington!”
The next round of the World Superbike Championship will be at the famous Assen circuit in the Netherlands on 17 April.
World Superbike Standings
|5||Jakub Smrz||Ducati||Czech Rep.||42|