With just three rounds left Carlos Checa has a 74-point lead in the series after winning 11th race of the season in Germany.
With three rounds remaining in the 2011 World Superbike championship, Carlos Checa took a giant step towards securing his first ever world title of his illustrious 18-year career. Before even arriving at Nurburgring, Checa was odds on favorite for wins given the flowing and undulating nature of the German track along with the relatively short straights and hard braking areas. His domination started early and although out paced by Biaggi on Friday, showed a level of consistency in a different league to his rivals.
Race 1 went completely to plan with the Althea Ducati rider hitting the front on Lap 3 before stretching his lead with every circulation to take a comfortable win. In Race 2 a torrential down poor and treacherous riding conditions saw a conservative, risk free approach from the champion elect meaning he finished eighth, but still managed to score the most points of any rider over the two races.
The result means that he now has a 74-point lead with just three rounds and a maximum of 150 points still available. Checa said: “The first race was perfect. It was my strategy to try and hit the front and pull away. Once I was in the lead I
Max Biaggi lost major ground in
the series after missing both races
due to a broken bone in his foot.
focused very hard and tried to take care of the bike and tires.”
His championship bid was helped dramatically by the fact that front row qualifier and closest title rival Max Biaggi was unable to race after breaking a bone in his left foot on Friday. In a cruel stroke of luck Biaggi was hit by a stone kicked up by another rider in first qualifying which was the cause of his injury.
Checa said: “The fact that Max wasn’t on track today is obviously good for the championship, but I honestly would prefer him to be on track because beating Max will always make any result more satisfying.”
Factory Yamaha man Marco Melandri is now Checa’s closest rival after he secured a second and a sixth in the two races. It was the first time at the circuit for Melandri but he once again showed his class to capitalize on Biaggi’s absence and keep at least some pressure on Checa.
Said Melandri: “From the start of the weekend I had a better feeling with this track than I thought. At the beginning of the first race I did not have a good feeling but then I found a good rhythm and started to close on Carlos. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and lost the chance. I am sorry that Max was not there today, with him not racing we lose a part of the competitiveness of the championship.”
Marco Melandri moved up to second in the championship after earning top-six finishes in both races at Nurburgring.
While Race 1 got underway in dry sunny conditions, Race 2 should have arguably been stopped sooner than it was due to a torrential downpour that caused seven riders to crash over the shortened 13-lap race.
The rain may have been a headache for some but for Kawasaki man Tom Sykes it became the perfect conditions for the 26-year-old to secure his first ever WSB win. In a bizarre twist of fate the day of Sykes’ and Kawasaki’s first win since 2006 and first win with the all new ZX-10R his Paul Bird Motorsport team were told by Kawasaki that there contract to run the factory team would not be renewed at the end of the season.
Sykes said: “It’s a fantastic feeling to get my first win and I owe it to my team, Kawasaki and Showa. I heard about the team situation on the morning of race day, but really didn’t want to get involved. I tried to put it out of my mind and stay focused. We made a good change for Race 2 and I was confident for a dry race, but when it started to rain I have to admit I had a smile on my face. When we all get dealt the same cards I’ve shown that I’m good enough to win.”
Within hours of hearing the decision that he has lost the Kawasaki contract, Team boss Paul Bird had already begun speaking with different manufacturers about the availability of bikes to set up a new two-man team for 2012.
The unluckiest man of the day was PATA Aprilia rider Noriyuki Haga. The Japanese rider has a clear affinity to the Nurburgring circuit having won there three times in the past. In the opening race he stunned his rivals and after an intense battle with Melandri secured third place and his
Tom Sykes nabbed his first win for Kawasaki since 2006, but discovered the manufacturer would not be renewing its contract with Paul Bird Motorsports in 2012.
second podium of the year. In Race 2 Haga reveled in the difficult conditions to pull out an unassailable nine-second lead only to crash out on Lap 13 just two laps before the race was stopped due to the dangerous conditions.
Away from the racing itself the rumor mill of who will ride where slowly began to take shape. With only Max Biaggi and Joan Lascorz officially contracted to their respective Aprilia and Kawasaki teams, Jonathan Rea became the first big name start to sign a 2012 deal. The 24-year-old will stay with the Castrol Honda team for another season but has been assured of much needed upgrades to ensure he will be competitive next year. On track it was a good weekend for Rea, first time out after a three month injury layoff. He secured tenth in Race 1 and fourth in Race 2 despite a high-speed crash at Turn 1.
The factory BMW squad made big strides in securing their 2012 line-up but still left Nurburgring with nothing confirmed for 2012. Leon Haslam is waiting for certain demands to be met before res-signing and the word on the street is that Italian Marco Melandri is close to inking a deal with the German manufacturer.
The other big news to break in Germany was that the owners of the WSB championship – Infront have been bought out by the owners of MotoGP’s promoter – Dorna. The multi-million dollar deal means that for the first time both world championships are ultimately owned by the same company. At this stage WSB boss Flammini is adamant nothing will change and both series will continue to run and be managed separately, but the long term future and technical regulations has to be a subject of debate in the future.