Carlos Checa was the big winner once again after finishing on the podium in both of the day's World Superbike races.
The Althea Racing rider started both races from pole position and maintained it through a tight opening lap. On lap four, the Spaniard was overtaken by eventual winner Jonathan Rea and things got even worse when Max Biaggi led three other riders past the no. 7 Ducati, dropping him to sixth.
Checa kept his head though and calmly moved back past Troy Corser, Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty to take the final place on the podium.
Afterwards, he admitted he had to be patient as he waited for his hard tyres to give him the expected advantage in the second half of the race.
“The beginning of race 1 was difficult; I didn't have enough grip and so some of my rivals were able to get past me. Then I really had to push to make up lost ground. I tried to stay calm and maintain my rhythm and was able to get in front of the second group, but to reach Max and Johnny was just too difficult. They already had an advantage because I had lost time getting past Laverty. I happily accept the result however, a positive end that gives us important championship points.”
In the day's second race, Checa again lost the lead early on, with Noriyuki Haga making the stronger start, but soon fought his way back to the front, bringing championship rival Max Biaggi with him. The two dueled for lap after lap before the Spaniard made the decisive move at the end of the penultimate lap.
Checa admitted the result was unexpected, and warned that the Althea Aprilia will face tougher challenges in the coming races, particularly on the long straights of Monza.
“For Race 2 we decided to change tyre and so, with the softer solution, I had more grip and could maintain a strong pace right from the start. I wanted to push at the beginning and try to build a gap between me and Max but he stayed with me, putting me under pressure. When I made a small mistake and he passed me in the final stages, I was able to see that he was having some tyre trouble. I got back past him and took the win, a result that is surprising but fantastic. At Monza we will try to defend our position as best we can, knowing that it will be a very tough track for us.”
Thanks to Marco Melandri's fall in race two, Checa extended his championship lead to 43 points with Max Biaggi now his nearest challenger. The World Superbikes now move on to Monza for the Italian round of the championship in three weeks time.