A win and third place finish at Assen has seen Carlos Checa extend his World Superbike Championship advantage from 19 points to 43 after just six races.
Having settled for a fifth consecutive podium finish in race one, after getting shuffled down the order early on because of a lack of grip, a change to the softer tyre in race two invigorated the Spaniard.
Taking the lead on lap three, Checa attempted to shake the attentions of Max Biaggi, but would be punished three laps from the finish by an error that allowed his rival to slip past.
Nonetheless, Checa proved his credentials as the 2011 title favourite by snatching back the position entering the final lap with a daring last gasp pass.
With closest rival Marco Melandri crashing out of race two, Checa's advantage has ballooned to 43 points. It is a margin after six races that is bettered only in recent years by Troy Bayliss's run to glory in 2008, the Australian having been 48 points ahead, albeit with fewer points overall than Checa.
“The beginning of race one was difficult; I didn't have enough grip and so some of my rivals were able to get past me. Then I really had to push to make up lost ground. I tried to stay clam and maintain my rhythm and was able to get in front of the second group, but to reach Max and Johnny was just too difficult.
“They already had an advantage because I had lost time getting past Laverty. I happily accept the result however, a positive end that gives us important championship points.
“For race two we decided to change tyre and so, with the softer solution, I had more grip and could maintain a strong pace right from the start. I wanted to push at the beginning and try to build a gap between me and Max but he stayed with me, putting me under pressure.
When I made a small mistake and he passed me in the final stages, I was able to see that he was having some tyre trouble. I got back past him and took the win, a result that is surprising but fantastic.
Despite his lead, Checa believes he may have a harder time holding onto his superiority at the next Monza round, which will favour those with a straight-line advantage.
“At Monza we will try to defend our position as best we can, knowing that it will be a very tough track for us.”