1 April 2012
Checa cruises to victory at Imola
Consolidating his excellent start to the new season, Sykes held on for second position, signalling a second straight podium for the rejuvenated Kawasaki team and keeping him well amongst the upper echelon of the standings.
With Checa and Sykes dominating out front, the battle for the remainder of the positions was comparitively fraught throughout, with attention focusing on Biaggi and Haslam's tussle for the final rostrum spot in the closing stages.
An impressive fight back from Haslam, the Briton bridged a three second margin to his 2010 title-rival to catch the Aprilia with four laps remaining. Though a first attempt to pass at Tamburello almost sent him across the gravel, Haslam swiftly collected himself to complete the manoeuvre just one corner later and snatch only his fourth podium result with BMW.
Biaggi had to settle for fourth, much to the chagrin of the Italian fans, while Laverty recovered to a very distant fifth after losing ground with an off at the final corner chicane on lap three.
Indeed, the last corner chicane proved troublesome for several riders over the course of the race, including Marco Melandri, who dropped well outside the points when he over-ran on lap two. Nonetheless, the Italian battled back to grab sixth on the final lap, just edging out Lascorz, who was another man recovering from early problems.
WSBK rookie Lorenzo Zanetti ran as high as fifth place on the PATA Ducati following a mid-race charge, but a drop in pace over the final laps would see him slip to eighth at the chequered flag.
Battered and bruised after his mammoth qualifying crash, Jonathan Rea soldiered on to run fourth initially, but would understandably fade to ninth as the lengthy race took its toll.
Behind him, Niccolo Canepa rounded out the top ten, while Jakub Smrz overcame two offs to finish in 11th, ahead of Effenbert Liberty Ducati team-mate Maxime Berger, while John Hopkins ended his first race of the season a fairly distant 13th place on the sole remaining Crescent Fixi Suzuki.
Completing the points' paying positions, Pedercini Kawasaki's Leandro Mercado marked his WSBK debut with a battling run to 14th place, ahead of Ayrton Badovini in 15th, while another newcomer, Brett McCormick, was on course for digits having run inside the top 15 throughout the race, only to drop to 16th on the very final lap.
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