The Althea Ducati rider was the fastest racer all weekend which comes as little surprise following his similar dominance at the final pre-season test the previous weekend on the same Phillip Island track. Without a factory team this season, it will be up to Checa to carry the Ducati banner and so far, the Ducatisti have little to complain about.
Race One Results
Defending WSBK Champion Max Biaggi of Aprilia Alitalia was the fastest off the line in Race One but Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty soon pulled ahead with Checa in tow. Laverty would lead the first two laps before Checa passed him on lap three. From that point on, the race was Checa’s as he led the final 20 laps to win by over four seconds.
Biaggi and BMW’s Leon Haslam passed Laverty on lap six while Laverty’s teammate Marco Melandri later joining the battle for the top three positions. Biaggi would finish in second place while Haslam held off the two Yamaha riders to earn a podium in his debut outing on the S1000RR.
“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,” says Haslam.
Race Two Results
Haslam maintained his momentum from the first race with a good start in the second but once again Checa quickly emerged with the lead. Checa would lead from the second lap onwards and would finish in first place by just over a second to complete the double.
“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,” says Checa. “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.”
Haslam held onto second for a few laps before losing ground to Melandri and Biaggi. Melandri and Biaggi battled for second place the rest of the race with Biaggi crossing the finish just 0.218 seconds ahead of Melandri.
For Melandri, it was the first career WSBK podium for the former MotoGP racer. It also marked his first podium result since a second place finish in the 2009 French Grand Prix with the Hayate Kawasaki MotoGP team.
“It’s nice to be back on the podium!” says Melandri. “I wanted to challenge Biaggi for second but in the end my body was slower than my mind at the end of the race, it felt a bit dangerous to make some passes so I was happy to settle for third.”
The 2011 World Superbike Championship continues in a month with the March 27 Donington Park round in the United Kingdom. Checa leads the way with 50 points followed by Biaggi at 40. Melandri and Haslam are tied for third with 27 points each.