Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 27 February 2011 - Ever since his first sessions in the official IMS tests at Phillip Island earlier this week Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) made himself a force to be reckoned with in front of 63,200 spectators at Phillip Island. On the opening day of the new season the Superpole winner made himself a convincing double race winner. Checa hit the front early in each 22-lap race, and enjoyed clear air almost throughout in the dry track conditions. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia), Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad) and new SBK force Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) all joined Checa on the podium at some stage, but it was a day to remember for all in Althea. Carlos now leaves Australia with 50 points in the bag, Biaggi has 40 for his two second place finishes, and Melandri and Haslam share 27 points, as they swapped third and fifth place places.
Checa’s winning margin over Biaggi in Phillip Island race 1 was clear evidence of the Althea man’s domination. Checa took the lead from Laverty on lap 3 and steadily pulled out to an unchallenged 4-second gap at the flag. Biaggi soon realized it was not possible to keep the pace of Checa and settled for second. The podium was completed by Haslam who held off both Yamaha riders, Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri, who exchanged places right at the flag in a sprint finish. Sixth was Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare), who made a great recovery that saw him finish ahead of Jakub Smrz (Ducati Effenbert – Liberty Racing) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing). Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) was running in the top 6 but slipped down to 12th after an off-track excursion, while front row man Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati Effenbert – Liberty Racing) crashed out and did not take part in race 2, after picking up a series of injuries to his right hand, knee and shoulder-blade.
Carlos Checa: “Here we have something extra, maybe the bike works really well at this track and I like it as well. We did a great job in testing, practice and qualifying but you never know, conditions can change. I started well and made a gap, controlled the race, went fast lap by lap, but it’s a fantastic winning start for me and the team.”
Max Biaggi: “A very good result because the last two years at Phillip Island we were struggling and far behind. The twins are always a bit better on this track but I don’t want to take anything away from Checa, he did a fantastic race. We did our best, I came close at some stage but my wheel was spinning so I couldn’t go faster.”
Leon Haslam: “A third place is like a win for me at this stage, we’ve come on a lot this last week and the boys have worked fantastic. I’m looking forward to having a look at the data because we had a few issues and still managed to get on the podium. Hopefully the team can work its magic in race 2.”
Race 1: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 34′16.503; 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 4.365; 3. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 10.719; 4. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 11.266; 5. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 11.293; 6. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 12.039; 7. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 20.294 8. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 20.742; 9. Haga N. (JPN )Aprilia RSV4 Factory 22.421; 10. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 25.822; 11. Rolfo R. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 29.270; 12. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 31.059; 13 Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 31.721; 14. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 36.389; 15. Staring B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 36.470; 16. Xaus R. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 41.928; etc.
Again no one was able to run with Checa and he finished a clear distance ahead of Biaggi again, 1.118 seconds at the flag. The reigning world champion battled it out for the runner-up slot in the final stages with an impressive Melandri just getting the edge at the line after some very impressive close-quarter racing from each rider. Rea emerged from a battering and bruising weekend with a fourth place that partially repaid him for his testing misfortunes when he crashed heavily more than once, and then again twice yesterday. Rea finished ahead of the two Leons, Haslam and Camier (Aprilia Alitalia), the latter making a great charge through in race two, despite suffering with illness during race weekend.
Carlos Checa: “It wasn’t easy at all. I went into first position as soon as I can, but Haslam was not easy to pass at all. From there I tried to make my place on the track, but I know they were fighting behind me and two seconds lead wasn’t perfect. This is the best start for me, 50 points here in Australia.”
Max Biaggi: “Two second places in Australia is a very good result. It’s good to come back here after we struggled the last two years. Thanks to my team and crew, we’ve been working very well these days. It was good battling with Marco, the Yamaha has potential and I think they can do a good race, and Haslam as well. It makes it better for the competition.”
Marco Melandri: “It’s been an amazing day for me after not such a good race 1. I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike so we sat down with our team and they made a good job on the bike for race 2. I could ride so much stronger, I started more aggressive, and it felt very good to be back on the podium after such a long time, I’m just a bit disappointed not to beat Max for second place.”
Race 2: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 34′15.041 (171,308 kph); 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1.188; 3. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R1 1.406; 4. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 10.563; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 10.885; 6. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 16.914; 7. Haga N. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 17.558; 8. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 17.679; 9. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 18.070; 10. Xaus R. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 19.053 11. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 19.060; 12; Rolfo R. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 23.771; 13. Waters J. (AUS) Suzuki GSX-R1000 23.956; 14. Toseland J. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 28.713; 15. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF R1 32.673; 16. Aitchison M. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 33.226; etc.
Points (after 1 round of 13): 1. Checa 50; 2. Biaggi 40; 3. Melandri 27; 4. Haslam 27; 5. Fabrizio 18; 6. Rea 17; 7. Haga 16; 8. Sykes 15; 9. Laverty 14; 10. Smrz 14; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 50; 2. Aprilia 40; 3. Yamaha 29; 4. BMW 27; 5. Suzuki 18; 6. Honda 17; 7. Kawasaki 15.
On its return to World Supersport Yamaha scored a fantastic slipstreaming win as Luca Scassa took the chequered flag on the ParkinGO machine, by just 0.009 seconds from Broc Parkes (Kawasaki Motocard.com). Third over the stripe as the top 3 flashed across the line was Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda), who scored a great podium in the debut race of his first full championship season. He had led out of the final turn but was overhauled by the two lead riders, and Sam was only 0.033 seconds from the winner’s time. Fourth was pole man David Salom on the second Motocard.com Kawasaki, posting an impressive result in a race in which he was frequently the leader. Fifth went to top true privateer Robbin Harms, on his Harms Benjan Honda, while a rider who had an operation on his left knee only a few days ago, James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR Honda), was a fighting sixth. New boy Florian Marino (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) made a good recovery from a terrible start to record a top seven placing, while Vittorio Iannuzzo recovered from the disadvantage of a fifth row grid spot to take eighth. Alex Lundh and Danilo Dell’Omo rounded out the top ten. Chaz Davies and Fabien Foret failed to finish with deflated rear tyres, and Foret was riding with finger and back injuries suffered in a warm-up crash.
Results: 1. Scassa L. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 33′34.739 (166,792 kph); 2. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-6R 0.009; 3. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 0.033; 4. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 0.272; 5. Harms R. (DEN) Honda CBR600RR 16.969; 6. Ellison J. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 23.943; 7. Marino F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 31.788; 8. Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 31.837; etc.
Points (after 1 round of 13): 1. Scassa 25; 2. Parkes 20; 3. Lowes 16; 4. Salom 13; 5. Harms 11; 6. Ellison 10; 7. Marino 9; 8. Iannuzzo 8; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Yamaha 25; 2. Kawasaki 20; 3. Honda 16; 4. Triumph 6.