WSBK

Carlos Checa on the edge of glory

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Ducati rider Carlos Checa will complete his ascension to 2011 world Superbike champion in France next weekend.

That was after the 38-year-old delivered another sensational performance in round 11 of the championship in Italy overnight, which now has him a 97pt leader over nearest rival, Yamaha's Marco Melandri.

Checa only has to leave France with a 51pt buffer to ensure he becomes the first Spaniard to win the championship since its inception in 1988.

After starting from pole position for the sixth time this year, Checa was third and first in the two races at Imola, while Melandri didn't produce his usual bag of tricks and was well back with an 8-6 scoreboard.

And Checa even had some luck on his side in race two after Jonathan Rea's Honda expired a few laps from the finish when he held a commanding 3.5-second lead.

"Race one was really exciting, I battled hard with (Tom) Sykes and it was a clean, fun race," said Checa. Then race two was even more thrilling! I'm sorry for Rea who had the pace to win, and for Melandri who was perhaps a little unlucky this weekend but of course I'm extremely happy to have won here at Imola.

"The championship is not yet over but we are very close to the title. We go on to the next round and what will be, will be. It's been a perfect weekend; I'm over the moon and want to thank the entire team."
Jonathan Rea took out race one and was easily leading race two when a $1 part halted his Castrol Honda almost in sight of the flag.
Race one at the classic Imola circuit was a cliff-hanger, with Sykes the early leader before Rea took over proceedings with Japanese veteran Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) right on his hammer.

But Rea, using a new electronics package on his Honda for the first time, didn't crumble under the relentless pressure, and he flashed over the line 0.111 seconds ahead of Haga, with Checa swooping by Sykes on the last lap to nail third position ‰ÛÒ and a few extra points gained on Melandri. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) and Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) completed the top five.

Race two was again shaping as a Rea benefit before a connector came loose on his battery and sent him out of the race with a few laps to go, with Checa riding his luck to make it 12 wins for the season as well as setting a new lap record.

But at least Rea had proven that he was back in the game after an injury-interrupted year, and he will also have an updated CBR1000RR to play with in the 2012 season.

"Race one was pretty emotional, because it's been a long journey back," said Rea. "Last season ended for me here, so it's a credit to all the people around me ‰ÛÒ my family, my friends, my girlfriend, and of course the team ‰ÛÒ who have got me back to the top step.

"We've come a long way and I'm not going to get wrapped up in the negative of race two. What happened was a failure of a one-Euro battery connector so in my heart I know we had two really good races today.

"The biggest result was the continued development of the new electronics system, so I can't thank the team enough for the faith they've shown in me to keep pushing with that development."

The ageless Haga was again second in race two, well ahead of Leon Camier (Aprilia) who battled hard with Laverty and Leon Haslam (BMW) right to the death knell.

Camier's teammate and reigning title holder Max Biaggi was absent from Imola with a broken foot, but he still remains third in the standings ahead of Laverty and Haslam.

Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki) was again the leading Australian, just edging out compatriot Troy Corser in race one for the final spot in the top 10, followed by a ninth in the second.

Corser didn't last the distance in race two after he could "hear a strange noise" coming from his factory BMW.

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) did not compete.

Main Photo: Carlos Checa leads Noriyuki Haga
Credit: Greame Brown

Imola - SUPERBIKE - Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 38'03.396
2. Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'03.507
3. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'12.845
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'13.188
5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 38'18.095
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'20.216
7. Jakub Smrz (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'27.623
8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 38'28.331
9. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 38'28.620
10. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'28.883
11. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'29.544
12. Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 38'29.840
13. Federico Sandi (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'33.157
14. Alessandro Polita (Barni Racing Team S.N.C.) Ducati 1098R 38'33.479
15. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'38.258
16. Matteo Baiocco (Barni Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 38'43.727
17. Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 38'47.943
18. Roberto Rolfo (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'53.637
RT. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 14'37.223
RT. Javier Fores (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 11'14.571
RT. Michel Fabrizio (Team Suzuki Alstare) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'52.910
RT. Maxime Berger (Supersonic Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 1'54.522

Imola - SUPERBIKE - Race 2
1. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'04.538
2. Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'09.169
3. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'19.697
4. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 38'21.733
5. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 38'21.926
6. Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 38'23.071
7. Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'24.153
8. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'24.601
9. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'28.732
10. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 38'33.023
11. Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 38'33.138
12. Federico Sandi (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 38'46.340
13. Maxime Berger (Supersonic Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 38'59.288
14. Javier Fores (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 39'16.819
RT. Alessandro Polita (Barni Racing Team S.N.C.) Ducati 1098R 34'46.265
RT. Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 30'54.319
RT. Michel Fabrizio (Team Suzuki Alstare) Suzuki GSX-R1000 18'19.929
RT. Matteo Baiocco (Barni Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 16'36.970
RT. Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 16'38.950
RT. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) Kawasaki ZX-10R 13'01.813
RT. Roberto Rolfo (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 3'48.126
RT. Jakub Smrz (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'56.223

WORLD SUPERBIKE STANDINGS (AFTER ROUND 11 OF 13):
1 Carlos Checa 417
2 Marco Melandri 320
3 Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia 281
4 Eugene Laverty 256
5 Leon Haslam 187
6 Leon Camier 171
7 Sylvain Guintoli 158
8 Noriyuki Haga 155
9 Ayrton Badovini 147
10 Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Suzuki 141
15 Troy Corser 71
19 Mark Aitchison 36
21 Chris Vermeulen, Australia, Kawasaki 14

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