Checa Starts Off With a Win

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2011

TOOELE VALLEY, UT, MAY 30 – A year after suffering double heartbreak at Miller Motorsports Park, Althea Racing Ducati’s Carlos Checa washed away some of the loss by winning the first World Superbike race on a chilly and overcast day in the Tooele Valley west of Salt Lake City.The Spaniard was en route to victory in both of last year’s races when he suffered mechanical problems. And throughout this year’s practice there were more engine issues. But in the race he and the 1098R were nearly flawless.Checa took over first on the sixth lap and by the end of the lap he had nearly a second. He nearly doubled the lead on the next lap, ran it up over five seconds, then backed off to win by 2.766.The cooldown lap brought more problems, though self-inflicted. Riding through the grass to pick up a Ducati flag, Checa tipped over, covering himself and his 1098R in mud. But he was able to laugh it off after stretching his championship points lead.

“Yeah, is a great feeling to finish the race first,” Checa told the adoring crowd gathered in front of the paddock stage where the press conferences are held. “Last year we’ve been close, but we had some problems, but is already forgotten; is part of the racing.”And here we did a great job. Was also not easy, because also was struggling with some problems. But finally the bike running so well and even the conditions are not perfect, but we’ve been able to adapt to this situation and take profit and win, that is fantastic.”The win comes after his worst outing of the year in Monza. His championship lead took a hit there, but made a strong recovery today. It didn’t hurt that some of his championship rivals had off days. Aprilia Alitalia’s Max Biaggi crashed with Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea on the first lap. Yamaha’s Marco Melandri finished sixth.With this afternoon’s second race to come, Checa has 170 points to 124 for Melandri. Biaggi, the double race-winner here last year, is third at 117.Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati filled out the podium. Jakub Smrz was second and Sylvain Guintoli third, a career best and first WSB podium for the Frenchman. The Ducati teammates were able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack late in the 21-lap race.Alitalia Aprilia’s Leon Camier made it four Italian bikes in a row by taking fourth. Camier was in the mix at the start, dropped back, then made a strong recovery.The first Japanese four-cylinder was the Yamaha of Eugene Laverty. Laverty had a transmission issue on the run to the first corner that set him back. On his run through the field he burned up his tire and faded from a podium position to finish fifth.Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes scored a career World Superbike best sixth, passing BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini at the end of the race.Leon Haslam put the first BMW Motorrad S 1000 RR into eighth, while Nori Haga was ninth on the Pata Aprilia.There were a few other notable non-finishers. Castrol Honda’s Ruben Xaus took out Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio early in the race in turn one.

Race One:

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)

2. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)

3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)

4. Leon Camier (Aprilia)

5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha)

6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

7. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)

8. Leon Haslam (BMW)

9. Nori Haga (Ducati)

10. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.