Quickly stamping his mark with a new fastest lap, Checa proceeded to pull away into what looked as though would be an unassailable lead. As it happens, Melandri would find speed in the closing laps as he attempted to unsettle his rival, but Checa never looked anything less than in complete control.
Crossing the line for his third victory of the season, Checa has now closed the gap to Biaggi at the top of the standings to 14 points, with Sykes in second position just a single digit ahead.
Though unable to resist Checa, Melandri's second place still marks a positive turnaround for BMW on what has been a tough weekend so far and improves his title credentials.
While he was unable to prevent Checa scything to victory, Max Biaggi has nonetheless increased his lead in the overall standings with a run to third position, the Italian getting the better of Honda's Jonathan Rea after a race-long battle. Donington Park winner Rea had held down third for most of the race before Biaggi pushed ahead with five laps to go, the 2010 champion subsequently keeping the Ulsterman at bay to the chequered flag.
By successfully spurning the attentions of Smrz, Eugene Laverty was rewarded with a solid run to fifth position ahead of the Czech rider, who will no doubt hope a better start from pole position improves his fortunes in race two.
Struggling for pace during the second-half, Sykes would cross the line more than 20 seconds off Checa in a race he led for the first five laps, the title contender even demoted to eighth place in the closing stages by countryman Chaz Davies on the ParkinGO MTC Aprilia.
Behind them, a feisty mid-pack battle for ninth was 'won' by Michel Fabrizio, the BMW Italia rider getting the better of factory counterpart Leon Haslam, who couldn't progress far beyond his lowly 13th place start.
Giugliano and Guintoli counted the cost of their poor opening laps down in 11th and 12th, while Leon Camier subsequently had his 20th place on the grid to blame for being unable to get any higher than 13th place. Ayrton Badovini and Loris Baz completed the points' paying positions.
Elsewhere, there was disappointment for local favourite John Hopkins, the FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider running outside the points before crashing on lap eight, while Lorenzo Zanetti and Niccolo Canepa suffered similar fates on their respective Ducatis.