WSBK » 25 September 2011
Rea seals magnificent Imola double
This was allowing Checa, who was also working his way up the order after a quiet start, to get onto his tail, the Spaniard slipping through into second on lap 16.
What followed shortly afterwards would turn the race on its head, with Rea beginning to slow, the Honda seemingly struggling with an intermittent issue that was causing the bike to cut out,. Despite Rea's best efforts, it was a terminal problem, the Ulsterman forced to park up to ruin what had promised to be the best day of his career.
Checa's unexpected rise to the head of the field coincided with Melandri struggling in the mid-pack, creating a mathematical headache over the final laps. Indeed, Melandri had been running fifth when he ran wide at Acque Minerale, dropping to 13th.briefly.
By the time Checa was in the lead, Melandri was up to tenth, meaning the provisional gap between them was 101 points – enough for the Spaniard to be crowned champion today.
However, retirements for Rea and Alessandro Polita ahead, coupled to late passes on Joan Lascorz and Sylvain Guintoli would see Melandri cross the line in sixth, bringing the gap down again to 97 points – keeping his slim hopes alive for at least another weekend.
Behind Checa, Haga completed his third podium in four races, results that bring into sharper focus his retirement from the lead at the Nurburgring. Nonetheless, two second place finishes mark his best combined results on the PATA Aprilia.
More than ten seconds further back, Camier completed a surprise podium finish in third – his first since Motorland Aragon -, the Briton shrugging off a run on at the chicane to turn around what had been a dismal weekend to that point.
He held off the attentions of Eugene Laverty, who is now just 25 points behind the absent Max Biaggi in the fight for third in the standings. Leon Haslam completed his day with a solid run to fifth position, consolidating the same position in the overall standings.
Behind Melandri, Guintoli and Lascorz were seventh and eighth, while Mark Aitchison scored his best WSBK finish with a run to ninth on the Pedercini Kawasaki. Ayrton Badovini sneaked into tenth to maintain his unbroken run of top ten finishes that now stretches 16 races.
Just 14 riders would make it to the finish line, with Ruben Xaus, Federico Sandi, Maxime Berger and WSBK debutant Javier Fores taking the remainder of the points.
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