Lucky 13 as Checa secures WSBK title with win
2 October 2011
Carlos Checa confirmed himself as the 2011 World Superbike Champion in superb style by completing his 13th victory of the season at Magny-Cours.
Though it was highly anticipated that Checa would seal the championship in the first race around the French circuit, his comfortable victory went well beyond the 13th place finish he required to confirm the inevitable.
A fitting way for the Spaniard to secure a championship he has led from the very first round, Checa trailed Eugene Laverty in the early stages before eventually moving through on lap ten and romping to the chequered flag.
Indeed, Laverty assumed the lead from the sweeping first bend, the Irishman benefitting after Jonathan Rea bogged down from pole position and slipped to the bottom end of the top ten. Leon Camier and Tom Sykes chased over the opening lap, though Checa would make it past the Kawasaki rider at Chateau d'Eau.
Setting his sights on the leaders, Checa didn't need to push too hard when Camier ran wide at Adelaide and allowed the Spaniard – literally – onto his tail, the pair very nearly making contact as the Briton recovered back to his racing line.
Checa eventually moved past Camier on lap three and set about chasing down Laverty, who had worked his leading margin up to almost two seconds by this stage.
Behind them, Sylvain Guintoli held down fourth, ahead of Sykes, Marco Melandri, Leon Haslam and Rea, the latter determined to make up ground after his poor getaway.
However, the Ulsterman's challenge would end on lap three when he crashed out of the final corner chicane, joining a retirements' list that already included Mark Aitchison, who suffered a spectacular high-side on the first lap, Jakub Smrz, who also fell, and Ayrton Badovini, who saw his unbroken run of top ten finishes ended by a technical issue.
Back at the front, Checa's bid to win the 2011 title in ultimate style was going to plan as he caught up with Laverty, the pair circulating at a solid pace out front until the Ducati rider began to make his intentions known on lap ten.
Diving down the inside at Adelaide, though Laverty calmly retook the position on the exit of the hairpin, Checa's second effort further around the lap at Chateau d'Eau would prove more conclusive.
From here, Checa began to stretch his advantage, safe in the knowledge that – with just 13 riders now circulating – he could even afford to drop to the back of the field and win the title.
Naturally, it wouldn't come to that, Checa easing off in the final laps to ensure that he came across the line as a world champion for the first time in his career, the culmination of an outstanding season that has yielded 13 race wins.
Furthermore, Checa's win represents the second title of the day for Althea Racing following Davide Giugliano's earlier success in the FIM Superstock 1000 race.
Behind him, the battle for second went down to the wire as Laverty faded significantly in the final laps, immersing him into the chasing pack of Haslam – now up to third – Melandri and Camier.
Melandri's race had been an eventful one, the Italian getting 'bullied' early on as he was demoted to a low of ninth, before steadily working his way back into contention.
With Laverty looming ahead, Melandri capitalised on Haslam's hesitance behind the Yamaha to pounce for third, which quickly became second when the three-time race winner surpassed on his team-mate. Nonetheless, Haslam would promptly follow his future team-mate through to get third and notch up his and BMW's first podium finish since Monza.
Laverty's late race troubles would also cost him fourth, with Camier getting past to secure a solid result on the sole Aprilia Alitalia, while Laverty settled for fifth.
Local favourite Guintoli couldn't build on early promise as he completed the race in sixth, ahead of remaining top ten finishes Noriyuki Haga, Joan Lascorz, Troy Corser and Tom Sykes.
Just thirteen riders would be classified, with BMW Italia's new signing Javier Fores scoring an 11th place, ahead of Michel Fabrizio, who remounted for 12th despite a collision with Sykes. Roberto Rolfo secured the final points in 13th.