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Checa on cloud nine with Silverstone win

31 July 2011

Carlos Checa has restored much of his World Superbike Championship advantage after cruising to a comfortable ninth win of the season at Silverstone, while Max Biaggi could only manage 11th.

The Spaniard was typically meticulous in his racing approach, coolly climbing from an early position of fourth to take the lead on seven before managing his advantage to the chequered flag.

A potentially crucial result for Checa, with Max Biaggi finishing well off the pace in 11th, the Spaniard has extended his series lead to 50 points.

With Superpole going the way to wild-card John Hopkins, an upset in the race had been mooted, but the American would just miss out on the chance to lead a WSBK race for the first time as he was out-dragged into the opening bend by Eugene Laverty.

Hopkins slotted into second place, ahead of Checa initially, though he would be demoted to fourth by the fast-starting Aprilia of Noriyuki Haga, the Japanese rider hauling himself into third.

By contrast, Leon Camier found himself shuffled down to tenth place after running wide through Arena, though he would make up ground to seventh when Michel Fabrizio's sudden high-side out of the position delayed those behind and created a gap in the mid-field.

As such, Laverty, Hopkins, Haga, Checa, Marco Melandri and Leon Haslam already had an almost two second advantage over the chasing field at the end of lap one, though three swift laps from Camier would see him on their tail soon enough.

As has been apparent on several occasions this season, Checa's climb through the order was steady, relieving Hopkins – who had been demoted to third by Haga – on lap four and easing past Haga on lap five.

Up front, Laverty was holding station comfortably, but while his pace was enough to gap those directly behind, once clear, Checa was quickly on his tail, leaving it until lap seven before making the decisive pass for the lead.

With Checa stretching clear and Laverty following up in second place, an intense fight for third place raged instead, with Haga holding steady as Melandri and Hopkins twice swapped positions in fourth and fifth. Prevailing for the short-term, Hopkins was back up to third on lap eight, with Camier – who was now past Haslam and Melandri – forcing his way through into fourth. Enough to unsteady Haga, the Japanese rider found himself down from third to seventh in just three bends.

Camier swiftly turned his attentions to Hopkins, passing on lap ten and promptly pulling away to go in search of Laverty in second. Haga, meanwhile, was down and out after crashing out at Brooklands, ending his hopes of a strong finish.

However, just as Camier was beginning to put the pressure on Laverty, the Aprilia would begin to slow with just three laps remaining, the hapless Briton denied what would have been a well-deserved podium on home soil.

There were no such concerns for Checa up front as he managed the advantage, cruising across the finish line three and a half seconds ahead of Laverty, the Irishman scoring his first podium since winning at Monza in May.

Camier's misfortune would see Melandri promoted to third position, the Italian making it two Yamahas on the podium. Melandri's result came after he got the better of Hopkins on lap 12, before staving off the attentions of a hard charging Haslam late on.

His best result since scoring a podium at Monza, Haslam would finish just off the podium in fourth position, while Hopkins completed a still respectable fifth aboard the wild-card Samsung Crescent Suzuki.

Almost as enticing as the battle up front, the battle in the mid-pack was fraught and fascinating, not least because it contained Biaggi, who was visibly struggling on the RSV-4. Though he ran seventh initially, Biaggi was swallowed up by the chasing pack, the Italian enduring the unfamiliar sight of Mark Aitchison's Pedercini Kawasaki running ahead of him.

Sadly for Aitchison, who was up to eighth at one stage, a crash at Brooklands would scupper his hopes of a landmark result for both himself and the team.

With the order changing repeatedly, it was Sylvain Guintoli who eventually prevailed for sixth place, the Frenchman fighting back after an awful start dropped him from fifth to 15th initially. Similarly, Joan Lascorz scythed his way up the order from 19th on the sole PBM Kawasaki to take a fine seventh, ahead of Maxime Berger, who scored his best-ever WSBK result with a run to eighth on the Supersonic Ducati.

Troy Corser was a brave eighth on his return to WSBK competition, finishing ahead of Ayrton Badovini, who in turn demoted Biaggi to his finishing position of 11th. Worryingly for the reigning champion, his fate would have been worse had Haga, Camier, Aitchison and Fabrizio not all retired from positions ahead of him.

James Toseland returned to the points in a fairly quiet 12th, ahead of Roberto Rolfo and WSBK debutant Jon Kirkham, while Camier was credited with a single point in 15th, despite his problems.

Elsewhere, Alex Lowes suffered an aggressive off whilst running inside the points.


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