After a season full of outstanding victories, Carlos Checa was forced to rely on the mechanical misfortune of others to win the second race of the day at Imola. The Spaniard was lying a distant second before Jonathan Rea's Castrol Honda broke down, wiping out his 3.5s deficit.
Rea had looked poised to take his first double-victory since Assen 2010 after a cracking start got him into Tamburello ahead of Eugene Laverty, Leon Camier, Tom Sykes and Checa. Initially the front two looked to be breaking away but Laverty soon fell back into the chasing pack before succumbing to Camier at Tosa on lap four.
Despite dropping to seventh after a poor start, Noriyuki Haga roared back into contention and brought Checa along with him. On lap five, the Japanese rider moved from fourth to second in the space of a few corners while Checa capitalised on Laverty's loss of momentum to take fourth at the Variante Bassa. Try as he might, Camier couldn't hold back Checa's Althea Ducati and the inevitable happened on lap eight as Checa dived through at Tamburello.
With Checa catching Haga for second, attentions turned to title rival Melandri, currently lying sixth, who was likely to need a finish of 14th or better to keep the championship alive. That suddenly became a tough challenge as the Italian slid off the track at Acqua Minerale. Thankfully for Yamaha, he made it back onto the track in 12th allowing them to breathe again.
The picture would change dramatically on lap 16 though as Checa passed Haga at the Variante Bassa and moments later, Rea's Honda slowed to a crawl with a CBR1000RR that continued to cut out. Checa was now in the lead, and Melandri now needed to finish ninth to deny the Ducati rider the title, and he had only made it up to tenth.
Thankfully for Melandri, Rea's problem hindered him so much that he was forced to retire, and after overtaking Alessandro Polita, he was back into eighth. On the penultimate lap, Melandri also disposed of Sylvain Guintoli and Joan Lascorz to finish sixth, forcing Checa to wait another week for his crowning moment.
Checa left Haga behind to win by 4.631s while Camier's strong start was rewarded with a podium. For the second time today, Laverty was forced to hold off Leon Haslam who kept his BMW upright this time. The Irishman clung on to fifth with Haslam sixth ahead of Melandri, Guintoli and Lascorz.
Rea (1-16), Checa (17-21)
Riders Championship (After Round 11: Imola)
|1||Carlos Checa||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||12||417|
|2||Marco Melandri||ITA||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||3||320|
|3||Max Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||2||281|
|4||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||2||256|
|5||Leon Haslam||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||187|
|6||Leon Camier||GBR||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||171|
|7||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||158|
|8||Noriyuki Haga||JAP||Aprilia||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||155|
|9||Michel Fabrizio||ITA||Suzuki||Team Suzuki Alstare||141|
|10||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||134|
|11||Jonathan Rea||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||2||138|
|12||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1||127|
|13||Joan Lascorz||SPA||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||125|
|14||Jakub Smrz||CZE||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||118|
|15||Troy Corser||AUS||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||71|
|16||Ruben Xaus||SPA||Honda||Castrol Honda||49|
|17||Maxime Berger||FRA||Ducati||Supersonic Racing Team||45|
|18||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||39|
|19||Mark Aitchison||AUS||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||36|
|20||John Hopkins||USA||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||20|
|21||Chris Vermeulen||AUS||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||14|
|22||James Toseland||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||13|
|23||Lorenzo Lanzi||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||10|
|24||Josh Waters||AUS||Suzuki||Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team||8|
|25||Federico Sandi||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||7|
|26||Alessandro Polita||ITA||Ducati||Barni Racing Team S.N.C||5|
|27||Matteo Baiocco||ITA||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||4|
|28||Barry Veneman||NED||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||3|
|29||Jon Kirkham||GBR||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||3|
|30||Javier Fores||SPA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||2|
|31||Viktor Kispataki||HUN||Honda||Prop-tech Ltd.||1|
|32||Alex Lowes||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||1|
|33||Fabrizio Lai||ITA||Honda||Echo Sport Racing Company||1|
|34||Bryan Staring||AUS||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1|