26 February 2012
Checa makes amends with race two win
Though Sykes put up a better fight than most as he doggedly defended his podium spot, Biaggi eventually made it past with four laps remaining and promptly set about going even better as he reeled in a flagging Rea.
Indeed, with Rea struggling with evident tyre woes in the final laps, Biaggi was able to get the better of him too to claim a remarkable second place finish, just five seconds behind Checa.
His impressive efforts mean he leaves Australia with a comfortable lead in the overall standings, 15 points ahead of Melandri, 16 points up on Sykes and, perhaps most crucially, 20 points ahead of Checa.
Behind Biaggi, Rea's troubles on the Honda allowed Sykes back onto his tail in the closing stages, the Kawasaki rider duly taking advantage of the opportunity to snatch only his third career WSBK podium on the run to the finish line.
The battle for fifth place also went down to the wire, with Leon Haslam emerging ahead of Marco Melandri after heroically defying the effect of his injured leg to spar with – and eventually prevail over - his BMW team-mate.
Maxime Berger raised some smiles for Effenbert Liberty Ducati with a good run to seventh, just behind the BMWs, though there was disappointment for team-mate and race one podium winner Sylvain Guintoli when he crashed out of the fifth place battle.
Eugene Laverty was also part of the fight for fifth for much of the race, but faded during the latter stages to an eventual eighth place, just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama, who completed his second top ten finish of the day, and Red Devils Roma Ducati rider Niccolo Canepa.
Outside the top ten, Jakub Smrz finished 11th, ahead of Leon Camier, who suffered for a poor start, while Davide Giugliano, Lorenzo Zanetti and Josh Brookes rounded out the points' paying positions.
As well as Guintoli, other notable retirements included Joan Lascorz, who crashed out of a possible podium position having scythed his way up to fourth place behind Sykes during the opening half of the race, and Michel Fabrizio, who fell early on.
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