The opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship may have had hints of 2010 when Max Biaggi romped to his impressive win at Phillip Island, but Carlos Checa's double triumph at Imola most certainly evokes memories of his 2011 success.

Indeed, with Althea Ducati team manager Genesio Bevilacqua signalling his concern about Aprilia's turn of pace in Australia, there will be no such complaints after Imola as his rider eased to two fairly comfortable victories, while Biaggi could only manage a pair of somewhat nondescript fourth places.

It means Checa has leapt from fourth to first in the overall standings, his three wins from four races already negating the crash that left him point-less after the series opener.

Even so, despite a rather quiet race day, Biaggi remains only four points adrift of his great rival in second position, the Italiann no doubt hoping that Imola, which is traditionally a strong venue for Ducati, isn't an ominous sign of things to come.

If Checa and Biaggi at the head of the standings is no surprise, the presence of Kawasaki's Tom Sykes in third place - just six points behind Checa - is definitely less expected. In fact, Sykes's results tally of 4-3-2-2 means he has amassed almost half of his entire 2011 total in just two weekends and puts him firmly in an unlikely title hunt.

Almost fully recovered from the leg injury that hampered him during the opening weekend, Leon Haslam hinted at BMW's renewed potential with two very competitive podiums, results that lift him to fourth place and, perhaps most crucially, ahead of team-mate Marco Melandri.

The plucky Jonathan Rea holds down sixth place for Honda, ahead of Jakub Smrz and Eugene Laverty, who makes big gains to move from 13th to eighth.

In the manufacturers' standings, Checa's performance means Ducati has leapfrogged Italian rivals Aprilia, while Kawasaki has also sneaked ahead of BMW in the battle for third position.

2012 World Superbike Championship rider standings (After round 1 of 14, previous championship standing in brackets)

1. (4) Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 75 points
2. (1) Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing 71
3. (3) Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing 69
4. (8) Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad 47
5. (2) Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad 46
6. (5) Jonathan Rea Honda WSBK 40
7. (7) Jakub Smrz Liberty Effenbert Ducati 30
8. (13) Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing 29
9. (6) Sylvain Guintoli Effenbert Liberty Ducati 21
10. (10) Maxime Berger Effenbert Liberty Ducati 20
11. (14) Lorenzo Zanetti PATA Ducati 18
12. (20) Joan Lascorz Kawasaki Racing 17
13. (9) Hiroshi Aoyama Honda WSBK 15
14. (17) Leon Camier Crescent Fixi Suzuki 12
15. (15) Niccolo Canepa Red Devils Roma Ducati 12
16. (11) Michel Fabrizio BMW Italia GoldBet 10
17. (12) Davide Giugliano Althea Ducati 10
18. (15) Bryan Staring Pedercini Kawasaki 6
19. (-) John Hopkins Crescent Fixi Suzuki 3
20. (-) Chaz Davies ParkinGO MTC Aprilia 2
21. (-) Leandro Mercado Pedercini Kawasaki 2
22. (18) David Salom Pedercini Kawasaki 2
23. (-) Ayrton Badovini BMW Italia GoldBet 2
24. (19) Josh Brookes Crescent Fixi Suzuki 1

2012 World Superbike Championship manufacturer standings

1. (2) Ducati 91 points
2. (1) Aprilia 71
3. (4) Kawasaki 69
4. (3) BMW 63
5. (5) Honda 40
6. (6) Suzuki 15