Yamaha's Marco Melandri secured his first win ever in World Superbike after only two rounds.
During only his third race in the 2011 World Superbike
’s Marco Melandri
scored his first win in the series at Donington. The Italian was joined on the Race 1 podium by Liberty Racing’s Jakub Smrz, who claimed second, and Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa
in third. In the final race of the day, however, Checa dominated nearly the entire contest after passing BMW
’s Leon Haslam on Lap 3. Melandri once again secured a strong ride to finish in second during the race with British rider, Leon Camier, reaching third.
Beginning from ninth place on the grid, Melandri had a solid start and began passing riders throughout the opening laps. Getting by Biaggi, BMW’s Troy Corser, Castrol Honda
’s Jonathan Rea and PATA Aprilia
’s Noriyuki Haga by Lap 9, the Italian then broke into the top-three as Smrz and Haslam struggled for the lead. Despite leading for 17 of the 23-lap contest, Smrz was overtaken by a late charge from Melandri in the final two laps.
“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.”
Jakub Smrz was unable to retain the lead from Marco Melandri in the final two laps and claimed second in Race 1.
“Of course I am disappointed to not win the race but it was really nice and I am back on the podium, which is important," said Smrz. "The feeling all the race was very good and the bike was perfect, in the end my rear tire was gone and I could not push any more. Marco passed me and I did not want to risk anything in the end.”
After crashing during the middle of the race, Checa made significant progress in the last five laps to finish on the podium in third.
“I had some issues with the rear tire grip at the beginning of the race, and I lost some positions, touched with other riders and it ended up as one of my most exciting races from the back to the front," Checa said. "Finally I arrived to Haslam after I had pushed to my maximum and I passed him when I had the opportunity. It was the last lap and I got third position.”
Meanwhile, Haslam earned fourth across the line after losing the lead to Smrz on Lap 7. The Brit was later overtaken by Melandri and ultimately lost the final podium position to Checa on the final lap with just two corners remaining. Rea scored a top-five finish in the first heat. The Irishman was down in ninth place with six laps to go, but managed to climb up the leaderboard into fifth just 0.176 seconds ahead of Haga at the checkers. Aprilia Alitalia's Max Biaggi scored seventh in the first bout nearly 10 seconds off the pace of Checa with teammate, Camier, behind in eighth.
Some of the disappointments in the battle were Kawasaki
’s Tom Sykes, Suzuki
’s Michel Fabrizio, Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty and Supersonic Racing’s Max Berger as all four failed to finish the first race. Sykes was the most impressive of the four DNFs, however, with the Kawasaki battling for a top-five result before losing the front end in a chicane.
2011 World Superbike Donington Race 1 Results:
1. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)
Althea Racing's Carlos Checa put on a dominating display in the second heat to win by more than three seconds.
2. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
3. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
4. Leon Haslam (BMW)
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
6. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia)
7. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
8. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
9. Troy Corser (BMW)
10. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki)
11. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
12. Ruben Xaus (Honda)
13. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
14. Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki)
15. Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki)
It was clear early on that Checa would not be denied the victory in the second race of the day. After a great start by Haslam from second on the grid, Checa swept ahead for the lead on Lap 3 and never looked back.
“It is a fantastic beginning to the season, especially this victory in Donington, which is something special," Checa said. "Basically we decided to put on a different tire with better grip at the beginning, so now I was stable and had good grip. At the end the tire 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!”
One of the best battles on the track was the fight between Camier and Melandri for second. For most of the first half of the race Melandri controlled the runner-up spot, but on Lap 16 the Brit shot ahead. In the end, however, Camier was unable to successfully defend the position, and on Lap 19 Melandri made the pass and forged ahead of the Aprilia rider.
Max Biaggi was disqualified from Race 2 after failing to see that he'd been issued a ride-through penalty for a false start.
“It was a pretty good race for me," said Melandri. "Leon was very fast, about 50% of the race I was coughing in my helmet and finding it hard to breathe so I lost my concentration. After that I recovered, I did my best and passed Leon again but Carlos was just too fast for me.”
“I can’t believe it’s happened," Camier said. "I started the year with glandular fever, which got me down a bit after all the hard work over the winter and to come here and get a podium at my home race is absolutely awesome. In the first race we had a few problems with the settings, so we changed it for the second one and it seemed to work well. It was a good battle with Marco, he was very strong, but to get third place is great.”
Haslam posted a solid ride in Race 2 for another fourth place. In the middle of the race the Brit suffered an off-track excursion which led to passes by Lascorz, Rea and Castrol Honda’s Ruben Xaus, but he recovered to finish less than a second ahead of Lascorz. Biaggi ended his day on a sour note when he jump started the second race. The defending champion was then issued a ride-through penalty which he ignored, causing him to be disqualified from the event.
"I realized that I had moved on the grid so I was well aware that my race had been compromised,” Biaggi said. “I tried to push right away to recover, but I lost my concentration because of that mistake, losing several positions. Unfortunately I didn't see the boards – when you're in the pack that can happen.”
With his most recent victory Checa now leads the WSB series by 19 points ahead of Race 1 winner, Melandri. Haslam has taken over third in the championship ahead of Biaggi, with the 2010 champ already 42 points adift of Checa.
2011 World Superbike Donington Race 2 Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
2. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)
Leon Camier (#2) had a terrific battle with Marco Melandri for second in Race 2, but ultimately finished third after wear on the brakes prevented him from taking it down to the wire.
3. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
4. Leon Haslam (BMW)
5. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki)
8. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
9. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
10. Ruben Xaus (Honda)
11. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
12. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
13. Troy Corser (BMW)
14. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha)
15. Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki)
2011 World Superbike Championship Points:
1. Carlos Checa, 91
2. Marco Melandri, 72
3. Leon Haslam, 53
4. Max Biaggi, 49
5. Jakub Smrz, 42
6. Jonathan Rea, 38
7. Leon Camier, 37
8. Michel Fabrizio, 27
9. Noriyuki Haga, 26
10. Tom Sykes, 19
Luca Scassa continues to dominate World Supersport after winning his second race of the season.
Yamaha ParkinGo’s Luca Scassa continued his perfect run of form at Donington by taking his second win of the season ahead of teammate, Chaz Davies, and Step Racing Honda’s Gino Rea. Scassa led every lap of the race after getting an excellent start from pole position. Meanwhile Davies was in close contention with Scassa throughout every lap, but eventually lost to his Italian teammate by 0.270 seconds.
Harms Benjan Racing Honda’s Robbin Harms secured fourth across the line after starting the first lap in seventh. Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes landed fifth in the order with his teammate, David Salom, more than seven seconds behind him in sixth.
2011 World Supersport Donington Results:
1. Luca Scassa (Yamaha)
2. Chaz Davies (Yamaha)
3. Gino Rea (Honda)
4. Robbin Harms (Honda)
5. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki)
6. David Salom (Kawasaki)
Robbin Harms earned fourth at the line and is currently third in the overall World Supersport Championship.
7. Massimo Roccoli (Kawasaki)
8. Florian Marino (Honda)
9. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Kawasaki)
10. Alexander Lundh (Honda)
11. Miguel Praia (Honda)
12. Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha)
13. Ondrej Jezek (Honda)
14. Balazs Nemeth (Honda)
15. Marko Jerman (Triumph)
2011 World Supersport Championship Points:
1. Luca Scassa, 50
2. Broc Parkes, 31
3. Robbin Harms, 24
4. David Salom, 23
5. Chaz Davies, 20
6. Florian Marino, 17
7. Gino Rea, 16
8. Sam Lowes, 16
9. Vittorio Iannuzzo, 15
10. Alexander Lundh, 13