Results and summary of World Superbike race 2 at Imola:
Carlos Checa has taken a huge step closer to securing the 2011 World Superbike crown by winning the second WSBK race of the day at Imola. The Althea Ducati was helped to victory by an electrical problem on Johnny Rea's Castrol Honda, the Ulsterman having led for most of the race before being forced to pull out. With marco Melandri finishing 6th, Checa's lead in the championship is an almost unassailable 97 points.
Though Checa got off the line well, a victory had looked improbable after the early laps. Rea dived past the Spaniard into the first corner, trailing Yamaha's Eugene Laverty behind him, while Kawasaki's Tom Sykes and Alitalia Aprilia's Leon Camier also slid past Checa. Rea and Laverty made a run for it, but only Rea was truly capable of sustaining the pace the pair were setting, Laverty soon dropping back towards the chasing group. The Castrol Honda pushed hard for the first part of the race, quickly pulling and sustaining a 3+ second gap and controlling the race from the front.
Behind Rea, the honor of leading the chase was hotly disputed. Laverty and Sykes had made the early running, but Sykes dropped back very quickly, while Laverty got gobbled up more slowly, as one-by-one the riders picked him off. First to make his way forward was Leon Camier, the lanky Aprilia man stuffing his RSV4 inside of Laverty at the final chicane.
Behind Camier, Checa was also moving slowing back towards the front, but his progress was as nothing compared to Noriyuki Haga. The Pata Aprilia rider was on a mission: after a dismal start, he had barged and sliced his way to 4th by lap 4, and proceeded to elbow his way past Laverty and then Camier to take over 2nd place. After catching his breath, the next goal was Rea, and as the halfway mark approached, Haga started to reel the Castrol Honda machine in as well. The early charge had been just a little too much, though. Haga cut the gap to Rea to just over 2 seconds, but then his tires started to protest. It was as close as Haga would get, his pace slowing by nearly a second in just a couple of laps.
The opposite was true of Carlos Checa. While Haga was slowing, the Althea Ducati rider was speeding up, quickly catching Haga and closing slowly on Rea. Getting past Haga was not easy; it took a couple of laps of probing before an old-fashioned block pass through the chicane saw Checa barge past Haga, and once rid off the pesky Aprilia, Checa set about chasing Rea.
That proved to be easier than he had anticipated: though both men were running similar lap times, Checa closing by a tenth or two a lap, yet not looking likely to catch the Rea, the Castrol Honda gave Checa a helping hand. An electrical fault saw Rea lose power intermittently, losing a second in a couple of corners, then getting straight back on the pace again, before the whole process repeated itself over again. After a couple of laps of suffering through the problem, Rea was finally forced to pull into the pits. The problem was not as at first suspected the brand new ride-by-wire electronics system used by the Honda, but rather a battery connector which had worked loose. One of the cheapest possible parts had thwarted Rea's attempt to secure a double at the legendary Imola circuit, after his win in race 1.
With Checa winning the race, his chance of securing the title at Imola was now in the hands of Marco Melandri. After a strong start, the Yamaha rider seemed inclined to hand Checa the championship, Melandri running off the track as he pushed too hard, and dropping down to 13th. At that point, Checa would have been champion, but Melandri rejoined the race directly behind a large, picking his way forward again to finish 6th. Checa's lead is now 97 points, and with 4 more races to go, the championship is almost inevitable. Melandri has to win all four races, and all Checa has to do is finish 13th once. Checa should be champion by the end of the first race at Magny-Cours.
|1||7||C. CHECA||ESP||Ducati 1098R|
|2||41||N. HAGA||JPN||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||4.631|
|3||2||L. CAMIER||GBR||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||15.159|
|4||58||E. LAVERTY||IRL||Yamaha YZF R1||17.195|
|5||91||L. HASLAM||GBR||BMW S1000 RR||17.388|
|6||33||M. MELANDRI||ITA||Yamaha YZF R1||18.533|
|7||50||S. GUINTOLI||FRA||Ducati 1098R||19.615|
|8||17||J. LASCORZ||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-10R||20.063|
|9||8||M. AITCHISON||AUS||Kawasaki ZX-10R||24.194|
|10||86||A. BADOVINI||ITA||BMW S1000 RR||28.485|
|11||111||R. XAUS||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||28.600|
|12||23||F. SANDI||ITA||Ducati 1098R||41.802|
|13||121||M. BERGER||FRA||Ducati 1098R||54.750|
|14||112||J. FORES||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||1'12.281|
|RET||53||A. POLITA||ITA||Ducati 1098R||2 Laps|
|RET||4||J. REA||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||4 Laps|
|RET||84||M. FABRIZIO||ITA||Suzuki GSX-R1000||11 Laps|
|RET||15||M. BAIOCCO||ITA||Ducati 1098R||12 Laps|
|RET||11||T. CORSER||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||12 Laps|
|RET||66||T. SYKES||GBR||Kawasaki ZX-10R||14 Laps|
|RET||44||R. ROLFO||ITA||Kawasaki ZX-10R||19 Laps|
|RET||96||J. SMRZ||CZE||Ducati 1098R||20 Laps|