Checa snatches Assen victory from Biaggi
17 April 2011
Carlos Checa has taken his fourth World Superbike Championship win of the season after grabbing the lead from Max Biaggi with a daring last gasp pass.
The Spaniard had led for the majority of the race, but looked to have scuppered his victory hopes three laps from the finish when an error into the final chicane gave Biaggi a slingshot into the lead down the ensuing home straight.
However, Checa collected himself just in time to launch a renewed attack into the same bend with a lap to go, the Spaniard squeezing his Ducati up the inside of Biaggi in a close, but clean overtaking manoeuvre. It was enough to repel any counter-attack from Biaggi, who had to settle for his second podium of the day.
It was a dramatic conclusion to a race that had otherwise taken its time to peak, Checa and Biaggi establishing themselves in the lead group once they had dispatched Noriyuki Haga, the PATA Aprilia rider proving a welcome sight out front for the opening two laps.
Utilising a soft rear-tyre, Checa and Biaggi maintained a comfortable gap to third and fourth place men Jonathan Rea and Marco Melandri from there on in. Indeed, although Rea and Melandri briefly rallied mid-race, Checa and Biaggi upped the pace to ensure victory would only come from either of these two riders.
Even so, it would take the smallest of errors from Checa to bring the race alive, the Althea Ducati running wide into the final corner chicane and leaving him vulnerable to Biaggi down the home straight. The Italian duly took advantage, sweeping into the lead with just three laps of the race remaining.
However, despite concerns about the durability of the softer rear tyre, Checa quickly latched onto the back of Biaggi and with just a single lap remaining, planted his determined move into the chicane.
Unbalancing Biaggi enough to prevent him from responding, Checa completed the final revolution unchallenged, pumping his fist as he crossed the line.
Another successful day for the former MotoGP rider, the win sees Checa pull 43 points clear in the overall standings after just six races, the Althea Ducati man's cause being aided by Melandri's crash out of fourth position during the latter stages of the race. Biaggi's two second place finishes means he has moved up from fourth to second again.
Race one winner Rea completed the podium after never quite being able to get on terms with the leaders, though the Castrol Honda man is another to have benefitted from a much appreciated large points' haul today.
Following the mechanical dramas of race one, Leon Camier bounced back for a strong fourth place finish, the Aprilia rider unlucky to lose time in the pack early on as he matched the leaders' pace in clear air. He also comes away a new race lap record of 1min 36.476secs.
Leon Haslam was rewarded with fifth after an afternoon spent busily defending from those behind, the BMW rider leading a close pack of Eugene Laverty, Michel Fabrizio, Haga, Jakub Smrz – who got a terrible start from second to end lap one in 15th – and Sylvain Guintoli.
Having shown promise during the opening race, Tom Sykes had to make do with just 14th and 11th place finishes, marginally ahead of Kawasaki team-mate Joan Lascorz.
Maxime Berger and Supersonic Ducati are off the mark after the Frenchman finished in 13th – his first finish of the year - ahead of Ruben Xaus and Ayrton Badovini.
Chris Vermeulen, meanwhile, did not start the second race having retired early in the first.