Castrol Honda's Jonathan Rea won his second race of the year, while Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa moved closer to clinching the 2011 World Championship by finishing a distant third in the first race of the Imola weekend in Italy.In his second race back from an extended injury lay-off, Rea took the lead from Kawasaki's Tom Sykes on the fifth of 21 laps of the historic Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit. The rider from Northern Ireland, whose previous win came in race one in Assen more than five months ago, stretched his lead to 1.5 secs. before PATA Racing Team Aprilia's Noriyuki Haga made up for a slow start by mounting a challengeHaga took second from Sykes on the ninth lap and cut the lead under a second on the 12th, then spent the rest of the race hounding Rea. The Japanese rider made one final push on the last lap only to come up short by .111 of a second. Checa was a distant third, nearly 10 seconds behind and narrowly ahead of Sykes, who he passed on the last of the 21 laps.Pole-sitter Eugene Laverty was alone in fifth, his Yamaha the fifth different brand in the top five. The first brand to repeat was the Ducati ridden by Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing's Sylvain Guintoli in sixth.The battle for the next six spots was the one to watch. The positions were constantly changing almost to the end, with Jakub Smrz, Guintoli's teammate, winning the battle to take seventh narrowly from Yamaha's Marco Melandri, who was a disappointing eighth in his home race. Following quickly were Ayrton Badovini, the first BMW in ninth, Kawasaki's Joan Lascorz, Team Pedercini's Mark Aitchison (Kaw), and Troy Corser (BMW).Checa added eight points to his championship tally and now leads Melandri by 82, 392-310, ahead of the second race, and with two more race weekends remaining. If Checa finishes the second race with a cushion of 100 points or more, the title will be his. Alitalia Aprilia's Max Biaggi, who's sitting out this weekend with an injury, is a distant third with 281 points, and officially eliminated from even the slimmest hopes of retaining the number ‘1' plate.

Race One:

1. Jonathan Rea (Honda)

2. Nori Haga (Aprilia)

3. Carlos Checa (Ducati)

4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha)

6. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)

7. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)

8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)

9. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)

10. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki)

 

 

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Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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