Checa Continues to Reign at Miller Motorsports Park

Henny Ray Abrams | May 28, 2012

TOOTLE, UTAH, MAY 28 – King Carlos Checa conquered Miller Motorsports Park yet again, the Spaniard winning for the fifth time in the last seven races in the first sun splashed World Superbike race of the day. Marco Melandri gave BMW Motorrad their best ever finish at MMP by coming second, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) holding off Honda’s Jonathan Rea for third.

As impressive as Checa’s MMP record is, it should be better. He scored his first WSB double at Miller in 2008. In 2010, he was leading both races when mechanical issues knocked him out. And he doubled again last year. The win was his fourth of the year, but first since April 1 in Imola, Italy.

It cut into Biaggi’s championship lead by nine points. After the first of two races, he trails 130.5 to 144.5. In between is Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes (131.5). Sykes led early before fading to an eighth place finish.

Checa dedicated the win to his friend and mentor Wayne Rainey, with whom he spent time in Lake Tahoe before the race

“I would like to dedicate to him and to many other people, no, but especially him,” Checa said. “We spend some good time, we have a lot of fun together, for sure. Yesterday he told me, ‘I had really good fun, I enjoyed to come here. I hope (tomorrow) to even enjoy more,’ and for me it’s a great pleasure to win when people and special people like Wayne came here for the first time. Yeah, for sure we will have some good moments tonight to talk and to celebrate.”

Sykes got the jump from Checa, Melandri, Rea and pole-sitter Jakub Smrz (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati). On the second lap Melandri passed Checa, setting back his plans to split. Then Melandri took over the lead by drafting past Sykes into turn one on lap five. Sykes dropped a few more places, leaving Melandri to fend off Checa.

Checa passed Melandri early on the eighth lap, finishing the lap with a gap of .672 sec. It continued to grow until there Melandri reversed the momentum with five laps to go. But Checa had plenty in reserve and won by 2.313 secs. Melandri was a safe second, about three seconds in front of Biaggi, who held off Rea’s constant advances.

The previous best BMW finish at MMP was in 2010 when Troy Corser finished fifth in both races.

The next rider across the line was Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty, about 6.5 secs. behind Rea and a second up on Smrz. Then a gap of 6.4 secs. to Chaz Davies on the ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia.

The only American to finish on the lead lap was Shane Turpin. Turpin rode the Boulder Motor Sports Ducati to 18th, one in front of Jake Holden. Holden crashed, remounted and finished 19th on the Grillini Progea BMW.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s John Hopkins wasn’t around for the end. In his return to racing after breaking his foot in Monza, Hopkins crashed entering the Attitudes on the eighth lap.

World Superbike Race One Results:

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)

2. Marco Melandri (BMW)

3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)

4. Jonathan Rea (Honda)

5. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)

6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)

7. Chaz Davies (Aprilia)

8. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

9. Michel Fabrizio (BMW)

10. Leon Haslam (BMW

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.