TOOELE VALLEY -- While the quest for a 200 miles-per-hour run is still unfulfilled, some old familiar riders climbed the winner's podium Monday at Miller Motorsports Park.
What was shaping up to be a third weekend sweep at MMP for reigning Superbike world champion Carlos Checa of Spain wound up only 50-percent satisfactory for the popular Spanish rider known affectionately as "King Carlos."
After winning the first of two races for the FIM Superbike World Championship, the featured events of the BigM Weekend presented by Lucas Oil, Checa crashed while leading the second race, handing the lead and eventual victory to BMW's Marco Melandri, who scored the German marque's second series win in as many race weekends.
Checa, riding the No. 7 Althea Ducati 1098R, was dominant in the first 21-lap race, posting a 1.346sec margin of victory over the No. 33 BMW S1000 RR of Italy's Marco Melandri.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes got a great start and took the early lead, but Melandri got by to take the lead on Lap 5 and led three laps before being overhauled by Checa, who never looked back.
Melandri, who won BMW's first-ever World Superbike race at England's Donington Park two weeks ago, powered through to second place, 2.313sec behind Checa. Max Biaggi, aboard the No. 3 Aprilia RSV4 Factory, claimed third place.
"I had a great time and I always enjoy coming to America, spending time around here, and I always feel really well at this track," Checa said in the post-race press conference. "It is a fantastic moment for me to win again, get on the podium, to take a victory, so some great feelings come back."
The second race started much the same as the first, with Sykes jumping out to an early lead. Checa blasted past after two laps and looked to be checking out again, but a crash and subsequent oil spill by Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama on the fourth lap brought out the red flag. It took approximately 90 minutes to get the track cleaned and a complete restart was staged with 18 laps remaining to run. Checa again took the lead and held the point for five more laps, but a Lap-6 crash at Turn 5 put an end to his hopes for a third MMP sweep (he won both World Superbike races here in 2008 and 2011).
With Checa's exit, Melandri was elevated to the race lead. A titanic battle with Rea ensued, with Melandri leading Laps 6-10 before Rea got past to lead Laps 11-17. Melandri made a bold, last-lap pass to secure BMW's second World Superbike win, edging a charging Rea by 0.195sec.
Two-time and defending series champion Josh Hayes regained the championship points lead in today's AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Championship race, putting in a decisive and dominant race on No.1 Monster Energy Graves Yahama R1. Hayes checked out from pole position and never looked back, taking the checkered flag 7.774sec ahead of teammate Josh Herrin (No. 2) to give Yamaha a 1-2 victory.
In the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series race, Tyler O'Hara became the first series rider to score a second win this season with a convincing triumph on his No. 29 Bartel's Harley-Davidson XR1200.
Unfortunately, no World Superbike rider was able to surpass 200 mph on Miller Motorsports Park's 3,500-foot front straightaway for the first time, which would have made MMP the fastest natural-terrain road racing circuit in America.
However, it was very close. In Monday's first World Superbike race, Melandri, Biaggi and Laverty each recorded a top speed of 198.35. As a result, the prizes in the "Quest for 200" contest went unclaimed until another day.