Carlos Checa has won his second World Superbike Championship race of the season after perfectly biding his time to head off pole sitter Tom Sykes at Imola.
Starting from third position on the grid, Checa rose to second at the start behind Sykes, the Kawasaki man managing another impressive getaway from the front to lead the field into the tight opening bend.
Though drama was avoided through Tamburello, bikes were scattered at the following Variante Villeneuve bend when Leon Camier and Joan Lascorz tangled, the Suzuki rider crashing out of the race, while the Spaniard and Davide Giugliano were both heavily delayed.
Sykes proceeded to round the opening lap with the advantage, ahead of Checa, while Sylvain Guintoli scythed into third position ahead of Max Biaggi at the final bend.
Unfortunately for Guintoli, disaster would strike just seconds later when, having been swallowed up Biaggi on the run down to Tamburello, he was caught out by Haslam on the outside of the bend, sending both across the grass. Though Haslam recovered unscathed, Guintoli lost the rear-end of his Ducati, sending him into a high-side across the circuit and into the path of the hapless Chaz Davies, who had nowhere to go but into stricken bike.
The incident, which put both out of the race, duly split up the leading group, with Sykes and Checa establishing a gap over third place Biaggi, while his Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty was now a fairly distant fourth place.
Indeed, with Biaggi unable to maintain the pace of the leaders, it was evident that victory would likely come from either Sykes or Checa, the former raising hopes of a Kawasaki win as he held Checa at bay.
However, with an advantage of four seconds over Biaggi, Checa duly began to up the pressure as the race tipped into the second-half and having moved onto the tail of the ZX-10R on lap 12, duly slipped past at Acqua Minerale to assume the lead.
Promptly smashing the lap record as Sykes's tyres began to wane, Checa quickly established an advantage that he would go on to hold until the chequered flag, the reigning champion completing a fairly comfortable win for both Althea Racing and Ducati on home soil.