Results and summary of World Superbike Race 1 at Imola:
Carlos Checa has won the first WSBK race of the day at Imola, after charging through the field and then holding off the challenge of Leon Haslam to take a convincing victory.
The Althea Ducati rider's chances of victory did not look good at the start, Checa still well down the field in the early laps. Kawasaki's Tom Sykes had capitalized on his pole position early, and led for the first half of the race, ahead of Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam. Haslam was joined by the surprising Lorenzo Lanzi, and after Haslam ran wide on lap 8 - a pattern that would later be repeated - Lanzi was past and into 2nd.
Haslam rejoined the race a couple of seconds down and latched on to Carlos Checa, who was starting his push forward. Sykes was starting to fade, and Lanzi dived under him at the final chicane to take the lead at the start of lap 10. Checa was towing Haslam forward, and caught the Italian within 5 laps, after both the Ducati and the Suzuki rider worked their way past Sykes' Kawasaki.
Once Checa caught Lanzi, it was clear it was just a matter of time that the Spaniard would get past the DFX Corse Ducati of Lanzi. That happened on lap 16, with Haslam coming past a lap later, using an incredibly brave move on the outside of a lightning fast right hander, using the grass on the outside of the kerbs to get through.
The two men soon dropped the Italian, and Haslam started making his intentions perfectly clear. The Briton started the race 58 points behind Aprilia's Max Biaggi, and with the Italian veteran having a nightmare of a race (running just inside the top 15 for most of it), Haslam was determined to claw back as many points as possible, including the extra 5 that a win would give him over a 2nd place finish. On the final lap, Haslam tried on Checa into the first corner, but Checa held him off masterfully, forcing him to the outside and causing him to lose time. Haslam chased Checa down towards the end of the lap, but instead of waiting for the final chicane, Haslam tried diving underneath Checa at the Rivazza double left hander. Haslam got through cleanly, but was going far too fast, and ran off into the gravel, losing three places in the attempt. Checa went on to win unchallenged, leaving Lorenzo Lanzi to take 2nd, and Xerox Ducati's Noriyuki Haga to take 3rd, giving Ducati a clean sweep of the podium, on a bike that the factory has said is uncompetitive under the current rules.
With just 11 points available for 5th, and Biaggi eventually managing to finish in 11th, scoring 5 points in a rather ironic numerical symmetry, Leon Haslam managed to close the gap by just 6 points, Biaggi now leading the championship by 52 points with three races to go. Biaggi can clinch the title if he finishes race 2 two places ahead of Haslam, but given the Italian's form at Imola this weekend, that seems rather unlikely. Haslam, on the other hand, needs to remain a little more calm and take what's on offer in race 2, rather than trying to force a win.
|1||7||C. Checa||ESP||Ducati 1098R|
|2||57||L. Lanzi||ITA||Ducati 1098R||1.171|
|3||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||1.472|
|4||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||6.691|
|5||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Suzuki GSX-R1000||9.584|
|6||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki ZX 10R||10.979|
|7||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||15.023|
|8||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||15.913|
|9||50||S. Guintoli||FRA||Suzuki GSX-R1000||17.025|
|10||35||C. Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||20.795|
|11||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||21.243|
|12||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||25.860|
|13||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Ducati 1098R||31.551|
|14||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Honda CBR1000RR||31.689|
|15||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||44.349|
|16||90||F. Sandi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4 1000 F.||58.693|
|17||5||I. Lowry||GBR||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1'10.388|
|18||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1'13.648|
|19||33||F. Lai||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||1'15.939|
|RET||52||J. Toseland||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||14 Laps|
|RET||95||R. Hayden||USA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||20 Laps|