The 2011 World Superbike Championship returned to Donington Park this weekend for Round 2 after a year hiatus due to some revamps at the 12-turn circuit.
Taking his first win Sunday was the man that returned to World Superbike from MotoGP, Yamaha’s Marco Melandri. In Race 2, Carlos Checa took the win aboard the Althea Ducati 1198R.
Race 1 Report
The man on the pole, Checa, had a terrible start, getting filtered back to 10th. BMW Motorrad’s Leon Haslam took the holeshot, followed by his fellow countryman Leon Camier on the Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 and Noriyuki Haga on the Team Pata Aprilia RSV4.
While Haslam lead for the first seven laps, Jakub Smrz began storming his way to the front, eventually taking the lead on the Effenbert Liberty Ducati 1198R. Checa also worked his way up from the terrible start, and was in third.
Another man moving through the field was Melandri. His YZF-R1 appeared very stable over Smrz’s Ducati, and Melandri moved into the lead on the penultimate lap. Melandri would win over Smrz by 2.455 seconds. Checa took the final podium position.
The reigning champion Max Biaggi ran wide a few times, but was able to finish in seventh. Supersonic Racing Ducati’s Max Berger lost a rear wheel during the race, and Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes crashed out. Also DNFing were Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) and Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare).
Marco Melandri (Yamaha Superbike) says: "It has been an awesome race for me, very tough and at the start many guys were very aggressive. I kept my rhythm and when I got on my own I caught Camier and some others then it took some time to get to Haslam.
"After that it was only a few laps to go and Kuba was pretty far ahead. I just kept the best pace I could and in the end Smrz’s pace was gone and I passed him. We missed a little bit of top speed but the package was very balanced, we won and I had a lot of fun."
Jakub Smrz (Effenbert Liberty Ducati Superbike) says: "Of course I am disappointed to not win the race but it was really nice and I am back on the podium, which is important. The feeling all the race was very good and the bike was perfect, in the end my rear tire was gone and I could not push any more. Marco passed me and I did not want to risk anything in the end."
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati Superbikesays: "I had some issues with the rear tire grip at the beginning of the race, and I lost some positions, touched with other riders and it ended up as one of my most exciting races from the back to the front. Finally I arrived to Haslam after I had pushed to my maximum and I passed him when I had the opportunity. It was the last lap and I got third position."
Race 2 Report
The big news in Race 2 was a jump start by Biaggi on the Alitalia Aprilia RSV4. He was black flagged for not completing his stop-and-go penalty, which disqualified him.
As in Race 1, Haslam got to turn one first, followed by Checa, Biaggi’s teammate Camier and Castrol Honda CBR1000RR’s Jonathan Rea.
On the second lap Checa, who was running a soft rear tire, passed Haslam with ease, and immediately began pulling away. As Checa pulled away, Melandri and Camier began battling, with the Italian getting the best of the Brit by the end.
Checa would eventually finish by 3.397 seconds over Melandri, with Camier in third. As in Race 1, Haslam took fourth and Joan Lascorz finished fifth on the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R. In sixth and seventh were Rea and Suzuki Alstare’s Michel Fabrizio, making for seven different manufacturers in the top seven positions.
Besides Biaggi being disqualifed, Berger had a DNF.
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati Superbike) says:: "It is a fantastic beginning to the season, especially this victory in Donington, which is something special. Basically we decided to put on a different tire with better grip at the beginning, so now I was stable and had good grip. At the end the tire dropped down a little but it was good enough. Everybody knows what happened here to me many years ago, when I lost something so now I’m quite satisfied to win at Donington!"
Marco Melandri (Yamaha Superbike) says: "It was a pretty good race for me. Leon was very fast, about 50% of the race I was coughing in my helmet and finding it hard to breathe so I lost my concentration. After that I recovered, I did my best and passed Leon again but Carlos was just too fast for me."
Leon Camier (Alitalia Aprilia Superbike) says: "I can’t believe it’s happened. I started the year with glandular fever, which got me down a bit after all the hard work over the winter and to come here and get a podium at my home race is absolutely awesome. In the first race we had a few problems with the settings, so we changed it for the second one and it seemed to work well. It was a good battle with Marco, he was very strong, but to get third place is great."
2011 Donington World Superbike: Race 1 Results
1. Marco Melandri Yamaha ITA 34’33.189
2. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 0’02.455
3. . Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 0’05.839
4. Leon Haslam BMW GBR 0’06.176
5. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 0’09.215
6. Noriyuki Haga Aprilia JPN 0’09.215
7. Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 0’09.960
8. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 0’14.860
9. Troy Corser BMW AUS 0’14.877
10. Joan Lascorz Kawasaki ESP 0’16.182
11. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati FRA 0’25.820
12. Ruben Xaus Honda ESP 0’28.378
13. Ayrton Badovini BMW ITA 0’31.869
14. Roberto Rolfo Kawasaki ITA 0’40.015
15. Mark Aitchison Kawasaki AUS 1’00.128
2011 Donington World Superbike: Race 2 Results
1. Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 34’21.537
2. Marco Melandri Yamaha ITA 0’03.397
3. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 0’05.902
4. Leon Haslam BMW GBR 0’13.842
5. Joan Lascorz Kawasaki ESP 0’14.253
6. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 0’19.413
7. Michel Fabrizio Suzuki ITA 0’20.278
8. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 0’21.160
9. Ayrton Badovini BMW ITA 0’24.298
10. Ruben Xaus Honda ESP 0’24.907
11. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati FRA 0’32.440
12. Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 0’32.679
13. Troy Corser BMW AUS 0’34.070
14. Eugene Laverty Yamaha GBR 0’36.418
15. Roberto Rolfo Kawasaki ITA 0’44.037
2011 World Superbike Point Standings (After 2 of 13 Rounds)
1. Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 91
2. Marco Melandri Yamaha ITA 72
3. Leon Haslam BMW GBR 53
4. Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 49
5. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 42
6. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 38
7. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 37
8. Michel Fabrizio Suzuki ITA 27
9. Noriyuki Haga Aprilia JPN 26
10. Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 19
11. Joan Lascorz Kawasaki ESP 17
12. Eugene Laverty Yamaha GBR 16
13. Troy Corser BMW AUS 16
14. Ruben Xaus Honda ESP 16
15. Ayrton Badovini BMW ITA 12
16. Roberto Rolfo Kawasaki ITA 12
World Superbike Manufacturer Standings
1. Ducati 95
2. Yamaha 74
3. Aprilia 66
4. BMW 53
5. Honda 38
6. Kawasaki 32
7. Suzuki 27