Carlos Checa benefitted from two mistakes by Max Biaggi at Misano to claim a 72-point lead in the series.
Carlos Checa was understandably the happiest man in Italy on Sunday night after doubling up again and securing his fourth consecutive race win, a run which started at Miller Motosports Park two weeks ago. The reason he was so happy was because, unlike Miller where he expected to win, he didn’t know whether he had the pace to run with last year’s double race winner and reigning world champion, Max Biaggi.
In the end he clearly did, but he was helped by two all familiar mistakes from Biaggi onboard the Alitalia Aprilia, which made Checa’s victories much easier.
“I expected Biaggi to be fast and he was,” said Checa. “My plan was to wait until the last three laps to make a move but he made a mistake and I profited from that. It ended up being easier than I expected. I also believed [Marco] Melandri would be strong and I honestly thought his performance would be higher than it was today.”
Checa also bucked the trend in terms of tires in the opening race. All season the smooth riding Spaniard has capitalized from being able to run softer tires than the majority of his rivals by being able to make them last full race distances. But in the opening race he was the only rider to use the hard rear tire while the majority of the field opted for the medium compound. The result for Checa was impressive race pace from the first lap to the last.
Max Biaggi: “The two second places today were the best I could get. It was clear that Carlos [Checa] had an advantage so I am satisfied with these results.”
Despite not securing a race win yet in 2011 it was still a strong performance from Biaggi, who reclaimed second in the championship standings from bitter rival Marco Melandri. Biaggi’s performance was all the more impressive given that he crashed twice on Saturday. His first fall was particularly heavy in which he fractured a small bone in his foot. But despite his heroics, his weekend was marred by two all too familiar mistakes which robbed him of the chance to fight for the win with Checa in the closing laps.
“The two second places today were the best I could get,” Biaggi said. “It was clear that Carlos [Checa] had an advantage so I am satisfied with these results. I really need to win now though. As a team we are looking at every area and doing everything we can to do this but at the moment it is just not coming.”
Marco Melandri saw his title bid stall after he dropped from second in the standings to third and now sits 95 points behind Checa and 23 points adrift of Biaggi. The factory Yamaha man qualified on the front row and secured a hard fought third-place podium finish in Race 1, but was never in the battle for overall victory with Checa and Biaggi finishing 17.1 seconds ahead at the checkered flag. In Race 2 the 28-year-old Italian crashed out of third position – a crash that brought out a red flag when his Yamaha and moments later Leon Camier’s Alitalia Aprilia crashed, leaving their bikes in the middle of the track.’
Marco Melandri: “It was a very difficult day, one to be forgotten. Not due to the crash, but mainly for the inability to compete.”
“We still have to improve the bike – chassis, electronics and especially engine braking,” said Melandri. “I am happy, but we are still off the front guys. Compared to America this race has been easier for me because I know the lines and the track, but the bike and riding style is pretty different compared to MotoGP.”
In Race 2 PATA Aprilia rider Noriyuki Haga secured his first podium of the 2011 season after a tough race battle with BMW Motorrad Italia rider, Ayrton Badovini. Despite being outpaced by Badovini, Haga used his years of experience and race craft to outsmart the young Italian and claim third. He now moves into 12th in the overall championship.
Factory Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes continued his run of good form at Misano. After securing a strong sixth place at Miller Motorspors Park two weeks earlier, the British rider put the new ZX-10R on pole position for the two races. It was Sykes’ second pole position of his WSB career, both coming in wet conditions after heavy rain fell moments before the start of the Superpole session. In the opening race Sykes managed to make a break with the leaders, and after initially dropping back, regrouped and pushed hard at the end of the race to overhaul factory Yamaha man Eugene Laverty for fourth in the final corner.
“I’m reasonably happy with that, the tire came back to me at the end of the race and I was able to keep a good pace and ended up being able to pass Eugene [Laverty], who I think was struggling with a bit of grip,” said Sykes.
The action at the front was marred by the high number of crashes and subsequent injuries during the course of the weekend. Castrol Honda rider Jonathan Rea was airlifted out of the circuit to the hospital with a broken wrist, collarbone, foot and concussion after high-siding his
Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea had to be airlifted out of Misano after a high-speed crash left the Irishman with a broken wrist, collarbone and a concussion.
CBR1000RR during morning warm-up.
“It’s unfortunate that I had such a big crash, but given the speed I was going I think I’m lucky to have only come away with these injuries,” said Rea. “It’s been a tough few weeks but the focus now is on trying to get back to full fitness because the next two rounds at Brno and Silverstone should be two of our strongest tracks.”
Fellow countryman Leon Haslam finished fifth in Race 2 riding with a damaged wrist and broken bone in his foot after his big highside in Race 1. Haslam’s teammate, Troy Corser, elected not to ride in Race 2 due to pain in his back after he highsided spectacularly on Friday.
“I started Race 1, but very soon it became evident that the injury was preventing full movement of my right leg and that stopped me from being able to get my knee down,” Corser said. “This track has many changes of direction and there was not enough strength in the hip to allow me to move the bike around anywhere near normal. I knew I was cooked after a few laps and managed to complete five before pulling in. If I had stayed out, I could’ve crashed and done myself more damage or worse – I could have caused somebody else to crash.”
The next round of the World Superbike Championship takes place at Aragon in Spain on June 17th to June 19th.