Carlos Checa remains the man to beat in Australia after setting the best lap during Friday’s qualifying.
Spaniard Carlos Checa got off to an excellent start in the 2011 World Superbike Championship by setting the fastest time in Friday’s first qualifying session at Phillip Island. The Althea Ducati rider continued his strong form from recent pre-season tests to produce a timesheet-topping lap of 1’31.577 in Australia, a tenth quicker than his free practice lap earlier that morning.
“Basically, we worked with the tires this afternoon, just to make choices for race day,” said Checa. “I felt good today but I think the grip was just a little bit less from the racetrack. We used the ‘big’ rear tire and had similar results to the previous ones, so if we do that I prefer to continue with the existing tires for now. Tomorrow we will just work towards raceday again, do a comparison with the tires and then do some longer runs on the tire we expect to use for the race.”
Trailing close behind Checa was Liberty Racing Ducati’s Sylvain Guintoli. The Frenchman suffered a fall during the morning’s practice session but was uninjured and returned to come within three-tenths of a second from Checa. Newcomer Eugene Laverty opened his 2011 World Superbike campaign with Yamaha in impressive fashion by taking third on the timesheets with a lap of 1’31.969, and finished the session just 0.392 seconds adrift of Checa.
Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli had the second-best time with a lap that was three-tenths off the pace of Checa.
“I’m very satisfied with my position today, I didn’t expect to be that high up in the standings although my aim was to do a 1.31 to get me through to Superpole tomorrow, so I was expecting the lap time but not the position,” said Laverty. “We learnt a bit more today for our race set up but we still need to work on a bit of consistency. Thankfully we can now focus tomorrow morning on race set-up.”
2010 champion Max Biaggi claimed the fourth-best time after the Aprilia rider finished within 0.432 seconds of Checa. However, the Phillip Island circuit remained a notoriously difficult circuit for Biaggi’s RSV4 machinery.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Biaggi. “There are problems with the engine brake which triggers a very marked chattering. We tried different solutions, even changing bikes often, but we haven’t had any great advantages. I think that Checa has a pretty good advantage over us at the moment, but I need to look at my own pit and try to draw out the best from what is available to me.”
Meanwhile, Liberty Racing’s Jakub Smrz rounded out the top-five times after posting a lap within 0.489 seconds of the leader. Leon Haslam secured the best time for BMW riders as the Brit placed sixth in the order with a lap of 1’32.082. Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio earned seventh on the charts just 0.026 seconds behind Haslam, with Kawasaki’s Joan Lascorz taking eighth in the order. Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Suzuki’s Josh Waters grabbed ninth and tenth, respectively, as Rea remained 0.847 seconds adrift of the leader.
World Superbike Phillip Island Qualifying Results:
Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty took third in the timesheets during his first qualifying run in World Superbike.
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’31.577
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’31.850
3. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1’31.969
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’32.009
5. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’32.066
6. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’32.082
7. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1’32.108
8. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’32.163
9. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’32.424
10. Josh Waters (Suzuki) 1’32.690
11. Troy Corser (BMW) 1’32.699
12. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1’32.700
13. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’32.705
14. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1’33.058
15. James Toseland (BMW) 1’33.074
Ten Kate Honda’s Fabian Foret was the leading man on Friday during World Supersport’s first qualifying session of 2011. The former champion recorded a fastest lap of 1’34.091 to edge out Kawasaki’s David Salom in the final minutes of the session despite crashing earlier in the day. Meanwhile, Parkalgar Honda’s Sam Lowes rounded out the top-three finishers with the third-best lap after finishing 0.709 seconds behind Salom and 0.784 seconds behind Foret.
Chaz Davies of Yamaha ParkinGo followed Lowes by 0.190 seconds and claimed fourth following some difficult pre-season tests. Roberto Tamburini squeezed 0.138 seconds behind the Brit to earn the fifth-fastest lap with his time of 1’35.203. Luca Scassa aboard Yamaha ParkinGo captured sixth in the books after running a lap that was more than 1.1 seconds adrift of the leader.
2011 World Supersport Phillip Island Friday Qualifying:
Ten Kate Honda’s Fabian Foret snagged the leading lap during the first World Supersport qualifying session of 2011.
1. Fabian Foret (Honda) 1’34.091
2. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’34.166
3. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’34.875
4. Chaz Davies (Yamaha) 1’35.065
5. Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha) 1’35.203
6. Luca Scassa (Yamaha) 1’35.236
7. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1’35.297
8. Florian Marino (Honda) 1’35.335
9. James Ellison (Honda) 1’35.480
10. Robbin Harms (Honda) 1’35.563
11. Gino Rea (Honda) 1’35.576
12. Miguel Praia (Honda) 1’35.953
13. Pawel Szkopek (Honda) 1’35.968
14. Massimo Roccoli (Kawasaki) 1’36.026
15. Vladimir Ivanov (Honda) 1’36.048