Imola (Italy), Sunday 25 September 2011 – Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) came within three points of winning the Superbike World Championship outright at Imola, after posting a third place in race one and his 12th victory of the year in race two. He was only stopped in his title tracks by the eighth and sixth places put in by Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) who is now 97 points behind Carlos with only two rounds left to go. Had Melandri left 100 points or more behind the Spaniard, Carlos would have been champion today.
A superb day of entertainment saw Jonathan Rea win for Castrol Honda in race one, from Noriyuki Haga (Pata Aprilia) who in the absence of former championship challenger Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) was the top Aprilia rider on show, finally posting two second places. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) was also a podium man today, despite running off the circuit in race two.
A wide range of machines filled the top places at Imola, with Honda, Ducati, Aprilia, Kawasaki and BMW machines all taking a turn inside the top five. Behind those dizzy heights, and in front of a 78,000 strong impassioned crowd, Effenbert-Liberty Ducati riders Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz were sixth and seventh respectively in race one, and Guintoli seventh in race two.
Home rider Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) had a miserable time and crashed in race one, retiring in the second 21-lap contest. Tom Sykes was on course for two top four places until his Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike machine stopped with braking issues in race two. He was only just beaten to the podium by Checa in race one. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) was top BMW finisher today, fifth in race two.
Rea won his second race of the year with a front-running display that needed to be strong in the final laps to hold off Haga. Behind the leading two, by some nine seconds, Checa scored an important podium but had to wait until the final lap to get the better of the impressive Sykes. Championship hopeful Marco Melandri was only eighth, after getting involved in several fights in the middle order.
Jonathan Rea: “It’s a great day for me especially after my race at Imola here last year and my injuries, so all credit to everyone for getting me back to the top step. Nori kept me on it for the whole race, I had to dig so deep at the end to try and get that win, but I’m so happy, we’re a very strong team.”
Noriyuki Haga: “First of all I made a mistake at the start and then to make up positions I used a lot of my stamina to catch up the pack. I tried to push until I caught up with Johnny, but he was riding very well and I didn’t find any space to pass him in the corners.”
Carlos Checa: “It was a nice clean and exciting fight with Tom until the end, I was a bit quicker than him. We passed each other three or four times, I didn’t want to touch him but on the outside I was able to keep the position and take him. It’s always nice to be on the podium especially at Imola with this situation in the championship!”
Results: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 38’03.396 (163,424 kph); 2. Haga N. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 0.111; 3. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 9.449; 4. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 9.792; 5. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 14.699; 6. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 16.820; 7. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 24.227; 8. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 24.935; 9. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 25.224; 10. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 25.487; etc.
Checa won the second dramatic race of the Imola weekend but he was unable to clinch the championship at Ducati’s home circuit. Rea was well on course for his second race win before his machine stopped, due to a broken battery connection, while leading. Haga took his second runner-up place of the day, while Camier earned a podium in another classic race at this classic track. Eugene Laverty went fourth to keep his challenge on for a final third place finish.
Carlos Checa: “It was a great weekend, mathematically we don’t have the title but it’s very close. We feel it already, but especially we’re so enthusiastic for today’s win. It was a shame for Johnny, I think he deserved to win so we were a bit lucky, but this year has been going so good and to win here in Imola for us has been so good”
Noriyuki Haga: “Race 2 was very tough, I wasn’t as close to the leaders as in race 1. I changed the suspension settings from the first race, but again I made a mistake from the start. Then I consumed my tyres to make up on the leaders, but I’m really happy for two podiums in one race.”
Leon Camier: “It was really hard to be honest. We’ve had a really up and down season so far but it’s good to get a podium for Aprilia, it’s an awesome feeling even though I feel so tired as well. Shame for Jonathan but well done for Nori and Carlos.”
Results: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 38’04.538 (163,342 kph); 2. Haga N. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 4.631; 3. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 15.159; 4. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 17.195; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 17.388; 6. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 18.533; 7. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 19.615; 8. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 20.063; 9. Aitchison M. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 24.194; 10. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 28.485; etc.
Points (after 11 of 13 rounds): 1. Checa 417; 2. Melandri 320; 3. Biaggi 281; 4. Laverty 256; 5. Haslam 187; 6. Camier 171; 7: Guintoli 158; 8. Haga 155; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 441; 2. Aprilia 376; 3. Yamaha 375; 4. BMW 232; 5. Kawasaki 192; 6. Honda 162; 7. Suzuki 158.
Chaz Davies (Yamaha ParkinGO) had the title within his grasp as he led the WSS race by over ten seconds, but when his machine broke down in spectacular fashion he left the Imola circuit with a greatly reduced championship advantage. The race winner was Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) who was locked in a midfield battle in the early laps, only to break free and overhaul an impressive list of riders, including eventual fellow podium men, Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda) and Broc Parkes (Kawasaki Motocard.com).
Fourth was Foret’s team-mate Florian Marino, and fifth another early struggler who showed great pace late on, David Salom (Kawasaki Motocard.com). The top five were covered by only six seconds, the top four by just under four seconds.
Results: 1. Foret F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 35’56.214 (156,581 kph); 2. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 0.166; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-6R 2.499; 4. Marino F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 3.833; 5. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 6.325; 6. Ellison J. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 21.872; 7. Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 25.826; 8. Praia M. (POR) Honda CBR600RR 27.553; etc.
Points (after 10 of 12 rounds): 1. Davies 171; 2. Foret 136; 3. Salom 123; 4. Parkes 120; 5. Lowes 109; 6. Scassa 96; 7. Ellison 72; 8. Marino 71; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Yamaha 201; 2. Honda 194; 3. Kawasaki 161; 4. Triumph 30.
A thrilling fight for much of the race between Danilo Petrucci (Barni Racing Ducati) and Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) eventually saw Petrucci almost crash but then collect his thoughts well enough to run out the winner by two clear seconds. Niccolò Canepa (Lazio MotorSport) was third in a Ducati clean sweep of the podium positions at the Imola round. Lorenzo Baroni (Althea Racing Ducati) headed off practice faller Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superstock) for fourth place.
Markus Reiterberger (Garnier Alpha Racing Team BMW) finished sixth, just ahead of top Kawasaki runner Sheridan Morais (Lorenzini by Leoni). Ducati has now won six of eight races in 2011 and in the championship fight Giugliano has an impressive 160 points, Petrucci 119, Imola faller Lorenzo Zanetti 117 and Barrier 96.
Results: 1. Petrucci D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 22’10.546 (160,261 kph); 2. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 2.087; 3. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 3.339; 4. Baroni L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 14.422; 5.Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 16.130; 6. Reiterberger M. (GER) BMW S1000 RR 20.645; 7. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 21.317; 8. Magnoni M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 21.483; etc.
Points (after 8 of 10 rounds): 1. Giugliano 160; 2. Petrucci 119; 3. Zanetti 117; 4. Barrier 96; 5. Canepa 96; 6. Baroni 70; 7. Reiterberger 62; 8. Antonelli 58; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 190; 2. BMW 153; 3. Kawasaki 75; 4. Honda 66; 5. Yamaha 16.