Crash.Net WSBK News
Checa back on top, Biaggi disqualified
27 March 2011
Carlos Checa has extended his advantage at the top of the World Superbike Championship standings after claiming a comfortable third win in four races at Donington Park.
The Spaniard made the most of a better getaway from pole position in the second race of the day to hold steady behind Leon Haslam initially before snatching a lead he wouldn't lose on lap three.
Cruising to victory ahead of race one winner Marco Melandri, the result means the Spaniard has opened up a 19 point advantage over the Italian after the first two rounds of the season.
Having been shuffled down the order at the start of race one, thus rendering him unable to get any higher than third by the chequered flag, Checa made amends at the start of race two as he slotted in behind the fast-starting Haslam.
However, Haslam, leading into the first corner for the third race in succession, could only hold the position for two laps before Checa dived down the inside of the BMW at the Melbourne Hairpin.
Stretching his advantage immediately, attention turned to the battle raging for second between Haslam, Leon Camier and Melandri, the Yamaha rider making up good ground in the early stages to trail the pair in fourth.
Camier planted a move on lap five, but Haslam would immediately fight back, an opening that allowed Melandri up into third position. Melandri pushed on, planting a decisive move on the BMW at Redgate on lap seven, with Camier following through into third.
Haslam's podium challenge would come to an end soon afterwards though when he ran wide on at the exit of Coppice, losing him four positions in the process.
Perhaps the most significant on-track moment of the race, however, was occurring further back with Max Biaggi, who was being beckoned into the pit lane to serve a drive-thru penalty. The Aprilia rider had jumped the start, earning him an unsurprising penalty, but he continued to lap regardless.
As such, officials had no choice but to black flag him, the reigning champion finally pulling into the pit lane to end a difficult – and at times controversial – weekend at Donington Park with just a seventh place to show for.
Back at the front, Melandri's hopes of reeling Checa in were being scuppered by Camier, who was putting in a feisty performance on the sole remaining Aprilia Alitalia to keep the pressure on. However, though he did make it past on lap 16, Melandri reassumed the position on lap 19 before pulling away.
As such, there was still a margin of 3.3secs between Checa and Melandri as they crossed the finish line, the Ducati man savouring a third win to put an already-substantial 19 point advantage between himself and the Italian after just four races.
Despite falling short in race two, Melandri was the day's top scorer as he proved himself to be a title threat in his first year of Superbike racing.
The only British rider to reach the Superbike podium all day, Camier scored a superb fourth career WSBK podium to bring some smiles to the Aprilia crew. The result is particularly sweet given the recent ill health that hampered him in Australia.
Haslam recovered from his off to record a second fourth place finish of the day, the local rider hunting down and passing the impressive Joan Lascorz during the latter stages. A maiden top five finish for the new Kawasaki, it was a convincing performance by the young Superbike rookie.
A quiet weekend for Jonathan Rea saw him claim sixth on the Castrol Honda, ahead of Michel Fabrizio on the only Suzuki in the field.
Race one podium winner Jakub Smrz couldn't repeat his heroics as he battled to an eighth place finish on the best of the Effenbert-Liberty Ducatis, while Ayrton Badovini overtook Ruben Xaus on the final lap to score a fine top ten finish for BMW Italia.
Outside the top ten, Sylvain Guintoli was 11th, ahead of Tom Sykes in 12th and Eugene Laverty in 14th, the pair seemingly struggling with their rebuilt machines following their respective race one accidents.
Elsewhere, Noriyuki Haga ran inside the top five early on but would drop the PATA Aprilia on lap four, leaving him down in 17th at the finish.