Ducati’s Carlos Checa got down to business by grabbing the fastest lap ever recorded at Phillip Island to claim the first Superpole of 2011.
Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa continued making a statement during Saturday’s qualifying at Phillip Island by setting the fastest time ahead of his competitors. The Spaniard darted around the Australian circuit quicker than ever recorded, picking up the first Superpole of the 2011 season with a lap time of just 1’30.882. Checa will now line up first on the grid for Sunday’s races, giving him an excellent chance to repeat his 2010 victory at Phillip Island.
“Basically we worked well all weekend, when I passed down the straight I did 1’30.8 but I didn’t know I was first until the mechanics stopped me,” said Checa. “But the difference is very small between first and second. At the end of the day of course we like to be first, but we did a good job all weekend and that’s the best thing. We will see how I can manage the race, 22 laps here is long and we must try and keep the tires fresh for the end and see what position we have.”
Checa managed to outrun defending champion, Max Biaggi, by just 0.013 seconds during the extremely close session. The Italian put in some fast laps near the end to snag the second-best time and position himself well for the opening round of the season.
Aprilia’s Max Biaggi saw dramatic improvement from his RSV4 and posted the second-best lap during Superpole.
“Wow! Thirteen thousandths are nothing,”said Biaggi. “It means that even on this track which has never favored us we have improved a lot compared to the last two years, coming close to the best. I am truly happy with this result which is to the merit of the team’s hard work coming here and testing during the off season.”
Meanwhile Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli posted a strong lap for his Ducati squad to put him third on the grid. The Frenchman was followed by BMW Motorrad Motorsports’ Leon Haslam, who demonstrated a marked improvement with the S1000 RR machine to claim fourth on the grid with a time just more than half a second off the pace of Checa.
“A week ago we had a few problems and I was worried about not making the qualifying in the top-16, so to have made the progress the team has done is all credit to them, they have really put in the effort,” said Haslam. “I’m really very happy to be on the front row, hopefully I can get a good start and we can get a similar result to last year.”
Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty just missed starting on the front row for his debut World Superbike appearance after being the final rider to lap within a second of Checa.
“Superpole was a new experience for me, the qualifying tires require quite a different style of riding so I think I’m yet to get the best out of them,” said Laverty. “Bring on tomorrow, I’m ready and really excited about seeing what we can do, I just hope it doesn’t rain!”
Jakub Smrz of Liberty Racing took sixth on the grid more than one second behind the leader, with BMW’s Troy Corser landing a start on the second row after posting a lap of 1’32.182. It was a rough day for the Castrol Honda team of Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus as both failed making it inside the top-10, with Rea suffering two different crashes throughout the day.
2011 World Superbike Phillip Island Qualifying Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30.882
Eugene Laverty just missed a start on the front row and was the final rider to lap within a second of Checa.
2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’30.895
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’31.293
4. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’31.429
5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1’31.858
6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’31.980
7. Troy Corser (BMW) 1’32.182
8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1’32.662
9. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1’32.153
10. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’32.204
11. Josh Waters (Suzuki) 1’32.240
12. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’32.708
13. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’32.346
14. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1’32.391
15. James Toseland (BMW) 1’32.547
16. Ruben Xaus (Honda) 1’32.788
17. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1’32.847
Kawasaki’s David Salom landed the leading time in Saturday’s World Supersport qualifying session with a final lap of 1’34.070. The surprise Superpole winner engaged Ten Kate Honda’s Fabian Foret in a tight battle during the hour-long session and in the end emerged victorious by just 0.021 seconds. Parkalgar Honda’s Sam Lowes and Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes rounded out the front row with the third- and fourth-best laps, which were still under half a second from the leader.
Italians Luca Scassa and Roberto Tamburini earned fifth and sixth respectively on the gird after both riders lapped within a second of the leader. Meanwhile rookie Florian Marino of Ten Kate Honda will join the Italians in the second row along with ParkinGO Yamaha’s Chaz Davies. Rounding out the top-10 times on Saturday were Harms Benjan Racing’s Ruben Harms and Step Racing’s Gino Rea in ninth and tenth, respectively.
2011 World Supersport Phillip Island Saturday Qualifying:
1. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’34.070
Fabian Foret lost a battle with David Salom in Saturday’s World Supersport qualifying and had to settle for second on the grid.
2. Fabian Foret (Honda) 1’34.091
3. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’34.504
4. Borc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1’34.548
5. Luca Scassa (Yamaha) 1’34.635
6. Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha) 1’34.931
7. Florian Marino (Honda) 1’34.994
8. Chaz Davies (Yamaha) 1’35.065
9. Robbin Harms (Honda) 1’35.272
10. Gino Rea (Honda) 1’35.362
11. James Ellison (Honda) 1’35.480
12. Massimo Roccoli (Kawasaki) 1’35.808
13. Danilo Dell’Omo (Triumph) 1’35.905
14. Miguel Praia (Honda) 1’35.953
15. Pawel Szkopek (Honda) 1’35.968