Imola WSBK: Checa takes race one; Sykes, Haslam on podium01/04/2012
By WSBK desk
Image by Paul Sturman
Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa has made history at Imola today, becoming the first man to win four World Superbike races at the Italian circuit as he crossed the line for victory in the opening leg while it was elation for the Brits as Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam completed the podium line-up.
Checa followed Sykes off the line and shadowed the Huddersfield man until half-distance when the Kawasaki man's tyres started to give up. The Spaniard put a move on Sykes on the entrance to Acqua Minerale and then promptly cleared off into the distance, opening a two-second gap in as many laps, setting a new lap record in the process and then throttled off in the closing laps to win by three seconds.
With a stone cold track temperature, Sykes' rear tyre was suffering from cold tear and he had no response to the Spaniard's pace, having to settle for second but netting a useful 20 points which brings him to only nine points behind Max Biaggi.
Haslam came close to not finishing after running into Tamburello too hot as he tried to pass Guintoli, they both went on to the grass with the Frenchman crashing as a result which necessitated a trip to the medical centre. Chaz Davies was also involved in the same incident but was unhurt Haslam re-grouped and fought his way quickly back to fourth and on the rear wheel of Biaggi at the rate of a second every lap.
It took the Derbyshire man until lap 16 to put a pass on the Italian into Tamburello but Biaggi was back past on the exit. Haslam had his measure, though, into Villeneuve and stayed in front with the Italian making a couple of errors and allowing the BMW man some breathing space.
Eugene Laverty, on the second works Aprilia, had a mid-race slump after starting hard but recovered to take fifth place while Marco Melandri had to battle back from a mistake going into the final chicane early on which dropped him to 15th but some fast laps saw the MotoGP exile finish in sixth, just ahead of Joan Lascorz.
Pata Ducati's Lorenzo Zanetti, racing at his home circuit, got the better of Jonathan Rea for eighth while Nico Canepa rounded out the top ten. John Hopkins finished in 13th place while it was bad news for his team-mate Leon Camier who crashed at Villeneuve on lap one.
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Post race - Carlos Checa