With another double victory this weekend at Misano, his second on the trot, Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa is looking like a shoe-in for the 2011 WSB championship as the series nears its half-way point.
In both races, Checa stalked a fast-starting Max Biaggi on his Alitalia Aprilia, caught him up by about half-distance, made what looked like easy passes, and quietly pulled away for dominating wins.
Biaggi, riding hurt with a cracked bone in one foot, seemed to make several errors in both races, running wide with the Aprilia, and had no answer for the quiet Spaniard’s speed. He still finished second in both races.
Behind the non-events up front there was lots of dramatic action. Crashes from Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes (who’d taken pole position), BMW’s Troy Corser and Leon Haslam and Aprilia’s Leon Camier all livened up excellent racing for the last podium spot in both races.
Castrol Honda’s Jonathon Rea was unable to race after a huge highside in the morning warm-up left him with suspected broken bones in both a wrist and ankle.
Yamaha’s Marco Melandri managed third in the first race, while Pata Aprilia’s Noriyuki Haga and BMW Italy’s Ayrton Badovini had a spectacular fairing-slamming battle for the last podium spot in race two, with Haga just beating the young Italian in the last corner on the last lap for a crowd-pleasing finish.
When congratulated on his first podium of the year, the imperturbable Haga shrugged and said,
The second race was interrupted by a red flag after a crash left Melandri’s and Camier’s bikes on the track, but the final 14 laps after the restart made no difference to Checa or Biaggi, who were in their own zone on this race day.
Checa has to be scaring everyone else, as he’s not only winning and winning and winning, but looks cool, calm, and collected while doing so. The Ducati factory may not be officially in the WSB series this year, but the Althea team has certainly picked up the factory colours and is waving them as well as Ducati ever did itself.
It was a horrible weekend for Honda, with Rea out, possibly for some time, and Ruben Xaus as usual nowhere in particular. Kawasaki has to be pleased with improvements, Tom Sykes taking the pole and running well in the first race (crashing in the second), while Chris Vermeulen scored some points, his badly injured knee apparently finally getting a bit better.
The factory BMW squad has to be unhappy again, both riders having crashed on the weekend, and in the final results the best BMW result went to the “privateer” BMW Italy rider Badovini.
Standings after 12 of 26 races (six of 13 events)
1. Carlos Checa, Spain, Althea Ducati, 245 points
2. Max Biaggi, Italy, Alitalia Aprilia, 173
3. Marco Melandri, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 150
4. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Yamaha Factory Racing, 123
5. Leon Haslam, U.K., BMW Motorrad Motorsport, 106
6. Leon Camier, U.K., Alitalia Aprila, 101
7. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Alstare Suzuki, 95
8. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Castrol Ten Kate Honda, 94
9. Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic, Team Effenbert – Liberty Racing Ducati, 83
10. TIE, Sylvain Guintoli, France, Team Effenbert – Liberty Racing and Ayrton Badovini, Italy, BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team, 72
Next event, Spain, Motorland Aragon, June 19.