Carlos Checa looks to continue building his lead over second place rider and defending champion Max Biaggi at Aragon.
Fresh off two double victories at Miller and Misano, Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa is getting geared-up for Round 7 of the 2011 World Superbike Championship at his home circuit of Aragon. The Spaniard has been in superb form of late, stretching his lead to 72 points in the title chase and clenching eight of the twelve races so far. All eyes will be watching as the Aragon circuit hosts its first ever World Superbike race, with none more eager than Checa to christen the circuit with a victory.
A purpose-built track of 5.345 km located near the town of Alcaniz, the arrival of SBK to Spain couldn’t have come at a better time as a Spaniard holds complete control of the series. Checa was one of a handful of riders who received a sneak-peek of the circuit during track testing, and the 38-year-old arrives as the de facto favorite having set the fastest time in testing (not to mention his four-race winning streak). It appears there’s simply no stopping Checa as the season officially reaches the halfway point.
“I really liked the track when we tested there last winter and we now travel there in the best possible circumstances,” Checa said. “It is a left-handed track and as you know I prefer those, though I’m also getting to grips with right-handers too! I’m really enthusiastic and happy to race in my home country. It’s the first time that Superbikes come to Aragon and I would love to give the Spanish public two great races. Spanish interest in the SBK championship is on the rise and so I hope that this event can help promote the championship from a media point of view. I think the fans will really enjoy themselves this weekend.”
Max Biaggi continues to finish strong but making up the 70 points will be a challenge. However, there are seven rounds and fourteen races left on the ’11 World Superbike schedule.
Aprilia Alitalia’s Max Biaggi has managed to keep the leader in his sights as he sits in second place overall, but the defending champ trails by more than 70 points at the halfway mark. Biaggi has matched Checa’s eight wins with eight podiums but he needs to win some races soon. In the previous round the defending champ rode with a swollen left ankle and still managed to earn two more trips to the box. Look for Checa to face increasing pressure from Mad Max.
Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea will have to miss the debut race at Aragon as he recovers from injuries sustained during a scary incident at Misano. The Irishman is undergoing an operation to fix his broken wrist after a high speed crash, and hopes to return at Brno for Round 8.
Yamaha’s Marco Melandri will aim for a strong result after crashing out in the final race at Misano. The Italian earned a podium in the first race, however, and his test at Aragon last month resulted in good feedback about his machinery and its capabilities at the high-speed circuit.
“I really like the track,” said Melandri. “It’s fast flowing and rides very well. I’m glad we had the chance to test there last month but the conditions weren’t ideal. The track was cooler than usual for the time of year and there seemed to be traces of rubber, so it wasn’t as fast as it should be and I’m not sure what to expect now.”
Yamaha’s dynamic duo of Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty are quickly rising up the standings with their sights on second place rider Max Biaggi.
Just behind Melandri in the standings, teammate Eugene Laverty also had troubles at Misano after crashing out in Race 2. Currently 27 points behind his teammate, Laverty recorded a double victory at Monza in May and has proven he’s a top competitor in the series. Look for him to bounce back from his disappointment with a positive result at Aragon.
“I’m really looking forward to Aragon,” said Laverty. “We tested there after Monza and it went pretty well. It’s a new track most riders haven’t raced before so hopefully this will be an advantage for us. I had a tough weekend in Misano but I intend bouncing back in Aragon, pushing forward to try and gather more valuable points for the championship.”
In contrast to Yamaha’s misfortunes at Misano, BMW and Kawasaki hit some positive notes with Tom Sykes and Ayrton Badovini. After snagging a surprising victory during Superpole, Sykes earned his best finish of the season in fourth during Race 1. Meanwhile, Badovini lost out to his first SBK podium when PATA Aprilia’s Noriyuki Haga nipped the BMW Italia rider for third in Race 2 – the Japanese rider proving he’s still got some SBK muscle aboard the satellite RSV4.
BMW factory team riders are looking for a better performance in Aragon after troubling results at Misano. Lucky for BMW, Badovini has been impressive on his privateer S1000RR.
Badovini’s fourth-place finish was complemented by a solid eighth in Race 1, the former STK champ is proving to be the most consistent Motorrader of later campaigning the S1000RR, at least of late. Both factory men Leon Haslam and Troy Corser had high-sides at Misano that hindered results. The duo registered a DNF in Race 1. Haslam recovered to finish fifth in Race 2, while Corser opted not to compete owing to a previous crash at the Misano circuit. However, the British rider figures to benefit from prior testing at the Spanish circuit “Aragon is quite interesting for us,” said Haslam. “A few of the teams selected it as their test circuit. We tested there once in the winter and did not do too badly. I feel that we have made some progress now with the BMW S1000RR, so I am actually looking forward to returning to a circuit where I have done some testing. And on top of that it is a new circuit for everyone, so it is quite exciting to see how it will all pan out.”
Other riders sure to be poking around in the top 10 include Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio, who is another rider to have tested at the Spanish circuit in the off-season. Aprilia’s second factory man, Leon Camier, has proven inconsistent this season, which extended into a Misano. Yet the former British Superbike champ and sophomore sensation has already proven a podium finisher this season. The same can be said of the Effenbert-Liberty Ducati duo, who should be dark horse top-five candidates if the Aragon circuit proves particularly favorable to the Ducati Twin.
The amazing ParkinGO Yamaha team had a big shake up in the standings in Misano. Can the duo reclaim the top spots and get back on track for the title at Aragon?
Misano saw the invincibility of the ParkinGO Yamaha R6 broken by Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes. The Aussie bested Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Fabien Foret and Parkalgar Honda’s Sam Lowes for the win. Parkes’ Kawasaki Motocard.com teammate, David Salom, places fourth followed by Italian wild card Ilario Dionisi. A former champ, Foret lurks in fourth overall and arrives at Spain with three consecutive podiums. The experienced vet seems a prime contender for the steps again at Aragon, as does the young gun Lowes, who garnered his second podium of the season last round.
The points leaders heading into Misano, the ParkinGO Yamaha duo of Chaz Davies and Luca Scassa saw their advantage wither at the San Marino circuit. Davies finished a disappointing sixth at Misano, dropping to second in the points behind Parkes. Scassa fell to third, the Italian subject to a humbling disqualification after illegally lapping at the Misano circuit in a pre-race riding school. The R6 pilot got demoted to assistant mechanic for the Misano race and will no doubt look toward redeeming himself in Spain.