Carlos Checa has assumed his familiar place at the top of the World Superbike Championship standings after a comprehensive double victory during the second round of the season at Imola.
Having won three of the last four races to be held around the Italian circuit, Checa was always expected to be a threat for victory on a circuit that has traditionally suited the Ducati twin.
Indeed, though Checa was happy to allow Tom Sykes to make the early running on both occasions, the Spaniard would eventually pounce as the race entered its second-half before easing out as the comfortable winner.
Making it wins four and five from six races held at Imola over the last three years, Checa's rout means he has leapt back into the lead of the overall standings, four points ahead of Max Biaggi, who could only manage a pair of fourth place finishes in response.
A particularly satisfying result for Althea Ducati in front of their home fans, Checa was delighted with another resounding double triumph, one that brings his career victory tally to 23
“Another incredible day, one more that I will never forget,” the reigning champion said. “At the beginning of race one I could see that Sykes had a very strong pace but I stuck with him. When I realised that he was beginning to have trouble in certain places, I took the opportunity to get past him. Then I was able to build a small advantage which meant I could finish comfortably ahead.
“It was all an unknown today with the much colder conditions, we didn't know what tyre to use but we took the risk of using that which we'd tested during the practice sessions (but on a much warmer track) – it was a risk but it paid off. The second race was very similar to the first.
“I made a small mistake near the beginning but was then able to find my rhythm. I thank my team, the sponsor and of course the fans – it's always great to win in Italy and I thank the spectators with whom I share these great emotions.”