Yamaha bowed out of World Superbikes in the grand manner with a 1-2 finish in the final race of the season at Portimao. The Japanese manufacturer announced in August that they were withdrawing their factory support of the championship but Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty, both secure of their 2012 rides elsewhere, gave them the perfect farewell gift.
Jonathan Rea led away from pole position but Laverty stormed past him when they returned to the start/finish straight, outbraking him into turn one. Third placed Melandri repeated the move at the start of lap six before shadowing his teammate, waiting for the moment to pass.
The moment came on lap 19 as the Italian dived up the inside of Laverty into turn five before pulling out a one second lead before the chequered flag. Laverty had his work cut out in the closing stages as Rea set his sights on second but the Irishman held on to give Yamaha their 1-2.
Rea finished third while the new world champion Carlos Checa ended his triumphant season with fourth ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and the Alitalia Aprilias of Leon Camier and outgoing champion Max Biaggi.
Checa wouldn't end the year without at least one victory though and the Spaniard duly took his 2011 winning tally to 15 after a late overtaking move on long-time leader Guintoli. The Effenbert-Liberty Ducati rider took over from Jonathan Rea at the start of lap three but succumbed to the pressure from Checa on lap 19.
Having taken third in the second race, Rea ended the day with a brace of podium finishes and finished comfortably clear of Max Biaggi, Joan Lascorz and Marco Melandri in race one. While he wasn't at his best, Biaggi will have been glad to be back after missing three events with the injury picked up in practice at the Nurburgring.
Fifth was a standout result for Lascorz who set the fastest lap on the way to matching his best result all season. Teammate Tom Sykes had a mixed day as he finished a strong eighth in race one before failing to complete race two. Leon Haslam had a disappointing end to the year though with ninth in race one and a solitary point in race two.
Although he didn't make the final podium of the year, the 2011 season belongs to Carlos Checa who ended the season with an astonishing victory margin of 110 points, with Melandri second and Biaggi taking third by virtue of nine second place finishes to Eugene Laverty's three.
Riders Championship (Final Standings)
|1 (C)||Carlos Checa||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||15||505|
|2||Marco Melandri||ITA||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||4||395|
|3||Max Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||2||303|
|4||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||2||303|
|5||Leon Haslam||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||224|
|6||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||210|
|7||Leon Camier||GBR||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||208|
|8||Noriyuki Haga||JAP||Aprilia||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||176|
|9||Jonathan Rea||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||2||170|
|10||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||165|
|11||Joan Lascorz||SPA||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||161|
|12||Michel Fabrizio||ITA||Suzuki||Team Suzuki Alstare||152|
|13||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1||141|
|14||Jakub Smrz||CZE||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||127|
|15||Troy Corser||AUS||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||87|
|16||Maxime Berger||FRA||Ducati||Supersonic Racing Team||64|
|17||Ruben Xaus||SPA||Honda||Castrol Honda||49|
|18||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||42|
|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||Javier Fores||SPA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||12|
|24||Lorenzo Lanzi||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||10|
|25||Josh Waters||AUS||Suzuki||Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team||8|
|26||Federico Sandi||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||7|
|27||Alessandro Polita||ITA||Ducati||Barni Racing Team S.N.C||5|
|28||Davide Giugliano||ITA||Ducati||Althea Racing||4|
|29||Matteo Baiocco||ITA||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||4|
|30||Barry Veneman||NED||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||3|
|31||Jon Kirkham||GBR||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||3|
|32||Viktor Kispataki||HUN||Honda||Prop-tech Ltd.||1|
|33||Alex Lowes||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||1|
|34||Fabrizio Lai||ITA||Honda||Echo Sport Racing Company||1|
|35||Bryan Staring||AUS||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1|