25 September 2011
Rea seals magnificent Imola double
The Spaniard is rewarded for his mid-race push to inherit the lead when Jonathan Rea is forced to retire from a clear lead.
Carlos Checa has moved to within three points of the 2011 World Superbike Championship title after benefitting from Jonathan Rea's cruel misfortune to claim a 12th win of the season.
Rea had looked on course for a superb second win of the day having led from the opening bend, only for technical issues to intervene with four laps of the race remaining.
Fortuitously for Checa, who had snatched second place from Noriyuki Haga moments before Rea began slowing, that pass was effectively for the lead, a margin he maintained to the finish to claim a definitive 12th victory of the year.
Even so, Checa's title dreams remain on pause for the moment after Marco Melandri turned around a mid-race off – which briefly put the Spaniard in a position to win the title – to grab sixth position. As such, 97 points split the pair, meaning Checa needs just three points from the final four races to seal the 2011 title.
Fresh from an emotional victory in the first race around the Italian circuit, during which he was forced to resist the attentions of Noriyuki Haga, Rea set himself up for a lights-to-flag victory, the Ulsterman diving into the lead at the first bend, fending off Eugene Laverty and the fast-starting Leon Camier from 13th on the grid.
By contrast, Checa and Haga suffered in the opening corners, getting shuffled down to fifth and seventh respectively as they rounded the first lap.
With Rea pulling away up front, a feisty pass on Laverty moved Camier up to second, the Briton – debuting at Imola this weekend - showing a remarkable turn of pace on a weekend in which he has struggled to make much of an impression.
He headed up a tight chasing group, with a series of bold passes shaking up the order over the ensuring laps. This was particularly evident from Haga, who refused to believe his victory hopes had been dashed by his poor start, the Japanese rider showing the form that has made him a 43-time race winner over the years to climb from sixth to second in just two laps.
With Rea already three seconds up the road, Haga set about trying to get the gap down, the PATA Aprilia rider setting a new fastest lap to show his interest. However, Rea was controlling the pace and negating Haga's advances, to the point that the Japanese rider began to fade into the second-half of the race.
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