Motorcycling: Checa closes on title after double success takes Ducati to 300 wins

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The Independent Online

The Spanish rider Carlos Checa flagged himself as the man to hire if you want to get your motorcycle factory into the record books when he gave Ducati their 300th win in World Superbike racing here yesterday.

Checa had already recorded Honda's 100th victory in 500cc grand prix racing in 1996, and posted Honda's 100th success in World Superbikes in 2008. So perhaps it was not surprising that he made the latest landmark look easy on the 3.66-mile circuit in the British round of the Superbike series.

"We expected Silverstone to be difficult, because our bike is not as fast on top speed as some," Checa said. "But when I passed some riders I pushed to the max and put a gap between me and them. It's nice to be a part of Ducati's history."

"Carlos is different to other riders," Genesio Bevilacqua, owner of Checa's Althea Racing Ducati, said. "He is not too aggressive with the throttle when he puts the bike into the corners, and this helps the life of his tyres." Ducati's success was all the more welcome given their problems in MotoGP racing, where Valentino Rossi is unable to reach the podium on the capricious Desmosedici GP11.

The UK's leading Superbike points scorer, the Northern Irish rider Eugene Laverty, led in both races but was hauled in by Checa. In the first race, Londoner Leon Camier was heading for the podium when a sensor broke on his Aprilia, leaving Marco Melandri to take third place on a Yamaha, in front of Leon Haslam on the leading BMW. Melandri was also third in the second race. "I moved my body position to try and catch Carlos, but every time he reacted," Laverty said. "We'll have to try something else to try and beat him."

Reigning world champion Max Biaggi almost certainly lost his title at this round, finishing only 11th and fourth. Checa is now 62 points ahead with four rounds remaining. In his comeback race after four months away with injury, James Toseland rode grittily with four pins in his right wrist to claim points in both races with 12 th and 13th places on his BMW.