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World SuperBike Returns to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah on a Memorial Day full of surprises

Tooele, Utah, May 31st, 2011 Memorial Day saw 48,000 enthusiastic fans treated to a double win from a rider who was robbed of a double last year by simple bad luck – Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati). The Spaniard, who entered this event as championship leader, had a dose of good luck this time as his two main rivals had difficult raceday experiences. Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike) was tenth and then sixth, while Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) crashed out of race one after colliding with Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda). Reigning champion Biaggi recovered good ground in race two, ultimately earning a third-place finish.

The podium in race one was a Ducati whitewash, with privateer Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli securing second and third-places respectively. Biaggi’s team-mate Leon Camier beat him to second in race two as the tall Englishman took his second podium of the season. Fourth-place in the championship is now held by Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike) with his fifth and fourth-place finishes in Monday’s races, lifting him above both Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and Rea.

“Just a few dry practice sessions on Saturday gave WSBK teams a limited possibility to set up their machines, since Sunday qualifying saw a constant downpour of rain,” said Giorgio Barbier, Racing Director of Pirelli Moto. “Hard-compound SCR2 Diablo Rain tires were supplied in order to guarantee excellent performance on this wet abrasive track and to keep riders’ confidence in such difficult conditions, considering the need for numerous changes in traction control settings.

“As always, Pirelli was prepared with full-rain, intermediate and Diablo Superbike slicks, a total of 1500 tires for this USA Round,” Barbier continued. “Superpole’s variable conditions left two Ducatis and two Yamahas on the front row for race day. Cold temperatures overnight made for a cold but drying track for morning warm-up, but the cloud break showed promise. Even with 3 front and 3 rear solutions (SC1, SC2) available for dry racing, including last year’s race-wining tires, 60°F on the asphalt and uncertain bike settings moved all riders to the SC1 mid-soft Diablo Superbike rear tires for Race 1, the most performing choice for colder conditions. Still, some riders pushed too hard at the race start and caused increased tire wear, accelerated also by various wet spots on the track. It was pole sitter and Best Lap winner Carlos Checa (Ducati) who used his Diablo Superbike SC1 tires to lap consistently in the 1’49 and 1’50s, finally earning a 2.7 second win over Ducati riders Smrz and Guintoli, the latter his first podium of the season. Race 2 brought only one tire change by Lascorz (Kawasaki) who switched to the A front, although many discussed changes with the sun out and a warming track. Aprilia riders Camier and Biaggi came back to fight in Race 2 for a 2nd and 3rd place finish, but double-winner Checa (Ducati) set the Best Lap of 1’48.827 and repeated his excellent results of three years ago at Miller Motorsports Park. Biaggi was preceded by Laverty (Yamaha) and Fabrizio (Suzuki) to make 4 manufacturers in the top five.”
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In the overall championship points standings, Checa has 195, Melandri 134, Biaggi 133, Laverty 109, Haslam 95, Rea 94 and Camier 91.

Race 1
Checa won the first race of the day, a clean sweep for Ducati in the 21-lap contest on a dry track. Smrz and Guintoli filled the remaining podium places, in second and third respectively, with Camier recovering from a mid-race hiccup to take fourth place away from Laverty. Sykes made a great final push to take sixth on his Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike machine, while satellite rider Badovini held off the challenge from Haslam to finish seventh.

“It was a good race, at the beginning I took things easy because of the track conditions,” said Race 1 winner Carlos Checa. “We didn’t know if we made the right choice for the feeling, but we managed to adapt, the feeling came lap after lap and I was able to overtake the riders in front. It was a race I was able to control, and my rivals didn’t have the conditions I had so racing is like that.”

Results: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 38’46.915 (159,425 kph); 2. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 2.766; 3. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 4.093; 4. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 8.885; 5. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 15.718; 6. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 20.477; 7. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 22.170; 8. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 22.267; 9. Haga N. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 24.087; 10. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 27.150; etc.

Race 2
Checa took his second win of the day and his sixth of the year when he was victorious in race two and led Camier and Biaggi home with some degree of ease. Fourth-place went to Laverty, with Michel Fabrizio making a fine return from a race one fall to record fifth for Suzuki Alstare. Melandri had an eventually lonely run to sixth. Guintoli, Smrz, Badovini and Sykes rounded out the top ten, with star names Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser not making the end of the race.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to get this result, especially after last year, said Checa. “We did a great job, we knew we had a chance but you just never know. I don’t know what is special about this place for me, I just feel really good here ever since I first did the double. I actually like left-side tracks and probably it’s my riding style as well, altogether a combination of things make me strong and help me win here.”

“I can say that the second race was much better than the first today, when I had a crash with Rea and was a little bit unconscious for a while,” Max Biaggi exclaimed. “In race 2 I started worse than race 1, caught the guys in front and couldn’t go faster than third-place, but I’m quite happy with that. I really regret race 1 because a podium for me was easy, but that’s racing. Today is today and tomorrow is another day!”

Results: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 38’22.082 (161,145 kph); 2. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 7.194; 3. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 8.734; 4. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 14.214; 5. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 14.750; 6. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 21.634; 7. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 24.079; 8. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 25.688; 9. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 29.621; 10. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 30.681; etc.

Points (after 5 of 13 rounds): 1. Checa 195; 2. Melandri 134; 3. Biaggi 133; 4. Laverty 109; 5. Haslam 95; 6. Rea 94; 7. Camier 91; 8. Fabrizio 85; 9. Smrz 83; 10. Guintoli 54; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 202; 2. Aprilia 172; 3. Yamaha 171; 4. BMW 117; 5. Honda 98; 6. Suzuki 89; 7. Kawasaki 69.

Pirelli BEST LAP Awards:
SBK Race 1 – Carlos Checa (Althea Racing), 1’49.779 (Lap 7)
SBK Race 2 – Carlos Checa (Althea Racing), 1’48.827 (Lap 4)

Total BEST LAP (SBK): Biaggi M. (Aprilia Alitalia Racing): 3, Checa C. (Althea Racing): 3, Haga N. (PATA Racing Team Aprilia): 1, Sykes T. (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike): 1, Camier L. (Aprilia Alitalia Racing): 1, Fabrizio M. (Team Suzuki Alstare): 1

Next year’s USA Utah Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship will be held on Monday, May 28, 2012, on Memorial Day.