With the Brno round of World Superbikes the 8th out of 13, the lines of both the World Superbike and World Supersport championships are starting to become clear. In WSBK, three men have a realistic shot at the title, while in WSS, the championship leader took a big step towards consolidating his first title. Though it is too early to start handing out trophies, we can already start scrapping a lot of names from the list.
The two World Superbike races turned into a rather pleasing allegory for the current state of the championship fight. The three title rivals were the main protagonists in both races, the Italians Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi taking a race win apiece, while Carlos Checa limited the damage by taking two 3rd place finishes. Despite having given up 13 points to both of his rivals in the title race, Checa came away content: at Biaggi's favorite track, and a circuit where horsepower is crucial - and which the Ducati is crucially lacking - the Althea Ducati man still has a 30 point lead over Biaggi, and a 53 point lead over Melandri. He had been able to stay close to the two Italians in both races, and most importantly, he hadn't suffered the kind of punishment he had at Monza, where he gave away points by the bucketload to his rivals.
The races were also illustrative of the way that Checa's luck has been running this year: If Biaggi had won both races, he would have closed to within a single race win of Checa. But with Melandri winning race 1, Checa's buffer to Biaggi is still more than a race. And although it may have suited Checa more to have Melandri win both races - keeping the gap to Biaggi even bigger - a double at Brno may have given Melandri's momentum a boost, and as Melandri is on something of a role (the Yamaha man has placed 1st and 2nd in each of the last two race weekends), that may have allowed the Yamaha man to challenge Checa for the win. With the next round at Silverstone - another high-speed track, the area where the Ducati struggles most of all - damage limitation was Checa's main priority at Brno, and he leaves for the UK confident of reining in the four-cylinder bikes of Biaggi and Melandri. Once the WSBK paddock rolls up to Imola and Nurburgring, Checa is confident of putting some more points on the two Italians.
For their part, both Biaggi and Melandri came away from Brno happy. The pair had been involved in two thrilling and close race-long battles for supremacy, and coming away with one win apiece, both felt justice had been done. Neither had any more to take to the other, and both had scored points on Checa. There are still five rounds - 10 races - left until the end of the season, and though the deficit is large, there is still all to play for.
The World Supersport class was likewise exemplary of the way the championship has gone, with Chaz Davies extending his lead in the title race, despite finishing only 3rd. But ever since his tire trouble at Phillip Island, the ParkinGO Yamaha rider has been the very model of consistency, winning when he can, scoring points when he can't, his 3rd place at Brno just another example of his solid season. Like Checa, Davies' luck is holding good, for though he gave up 9 points to the winner, that winner - the spectacular and impressive Gino Rea - is of no significance in the championship. The 2nd place man was a little more of a threat, Fabien Foret now up to 3rd in the championship, and level with Broc Parkes. But Davies' main championship rival - or at least, up until this weekend - Broc Parkes had a second race crash in a row, losing the front early on along with any hope of points. After a tough weekend where nothing seemed to work for Davies, coming away with a podium and an extended lead in the championship is a bonus. Davies can cautiously start browsing for a larger prize cabinet.