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Champion Checa wins again in France

2 October 2011

Carlos Checa and Althea Ducati firmed their status as the best World Superbike Championship rider-team combination by completing a second win of the day at Magny-Cours.

Having wrapped up the 2011 title with victory in the first race, Checa went in search of the double to emphasise his new role as champion, but while he struggled initially, his pace around the French circuit would eventually prevail.

Checa's success also means that Ducati has regained the World Superbike manufacturers' crown it ceded to Aprilia in 2010.

A fairly tardy start initially had Checa in fifth place, behind pole sitter Jonathan Rea, who didn't repeat his awful race one getaway, Eugene Laverty, Leon Camier and Tom Sykes, though the Spaniard would soon be past the Kawasaki rider into Adelaide.

Even so, Checa was lucky not to be down and out before he'd even completed a lap after Sykes misjudged his braking into Chateau d'Eau and clipped to back end of the Ducati before crashing out of the race.

Collecting himself, Checa was past Camier for third on lap two, but his attempt to pass Laverty at Chateau d'Eau on lap four instead sent him wide and back behind the Irishman, Camier and also Noriyuki Haga.

Up front, Rea's comfortable one second lead was wiped out on lap six by a minor error, one that put Laverty and the chasing pack on his tail. The Yamaha rider duly took advantage, passing Rea on the exit of the Adelaide hairpin on lap seven.

Checa, meanwhile, was steadily working his way back into contention, passing Haga and Camier on lap seven and nine, before overtaking Rea for second on lap 13.

With the top three circulating together, an exciting end to the race beckoned, only for Rea to slow suddenly with more technical issues on the Castrol Honda. It meant the pole sitter would leave Magny-Cours without a single point to show for.

Simultaneously, Checa put the pressure on Laverty and overtook at Chateau d'Eau, a pass that would prove decisive as the new champion pulled away over the remaining nine laps.

A perfect end to a momentous day for Checa, the result also signals a return to glory for Ducati in the manufacturer's standings, the Italian marque having now won 17 trophies in 24 years.

Just as he did in the first race, Laverty began to struggle in the closing stages, with the fast-approaching Marco Melandri getting the better of him on the final lap with a robust pass at Adelaide. The Italian had enjoyed a fairly stealthy ride up the order after a slow start, the future BMW rider sealing his second podium of the day.

Despite losing out to his team-mate, third for Laverty means he has now assumed the same position in the WSBK standings, ahead of the absent Max Biaggi, with one round remaining.

Following his run to third in race one, a fourth place finish for Leon Haslam signals his best points' haul as a BMW rider, while Sylvain Guintoli kept up the pressure on Leon Camier in the overall standings by passing the Briton on the final lap for sixth.

Joan Lascorz reinstated himself as the top Kawasaki rider in the standings by claiming seventh place, ahead of BMW duo Ayrton Badovini and Troy Corser, while Haga slipped back to tenth after struggling in the second half of the race. Javier Fores and Maxime Berger completed the finishers in 11th and 12th.

Elsewhere, there was more disappointment for Michel Fabrizio, who suffered a second crash of the day, while Mark Aitchison lasted only three laps before pulling out having suffered in his race one accident. Jakub Smrz didn't make the grid, meaning just 17 riders started.


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