Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa kicked off his fifth Superbike visit to the Misano Adriatico World Circuit in Italy taking provisional pole position in Friday’s qualifying session. Checa edged out Honda’s Jonathan Rea by just 0.047 seconds in some of the hottest conditions of the Superbike season so far. Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi sits behind Rea in third, having improved his time by almost one second from the free practice session earlier in the day. Checa had an extreme of highs and lows in the previous round at Miller, taking first in Race 1 then crashing out in Race 2 after leading the opening laps. The Ducati ace scored big at Misano in 2011, earning wins in both races and feels positive about his current set-up in the hot conditions.
“We worked well today and I’m satisfied with what we’ve got done,” said Checa. “Everyone’s talking about grip problems but this is probably due to the high temperatures, it might cause problems through the corners but I’m feeling confident.”
Rea worked with his team to iron out some issues with his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. “We didn’t have the best setting this morning and I was quite uncomfortable on the bike on track,” Rea explained. “We started this afternoon’s session with new gearing, fork spring settings and wheelbase, which was quite a lot of changes.” The British rider earned his first World Superbike victory at the Italian circuit in 2009, but hasn’t earned a podium there since. Biaggi, on the other hand, took second in both Misano races in 2011 and won both in 2010. The current points leader has faced increasing pressure on his position this season, earning his only first-place finish in Race 1 at Phillip Island.
BMW’s Marco Melandri rounds out the provisional front row in fourth. The Italian was the fastest during free practice and only lost a fraction of a second in qualifying. Checa’s teammate Davide Giugliano shot up the timesheet, coming in 19th during free practice to fifth in qualifying. The Ducati rider addressed a number of bike issues with his team between sessions and is looking to score his second podium of the season.
Team Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli is in sixth place ahead of Kawasaki Racing’s Loris Baz who made the provisional second row in seventh. BMW’s Leon Haslam netted eighth with Guintoli’s teammate Jakub Smrz in ninth and Baz’s teammate Tom Sykes in 10th.
American John Hopkins of FIXI Crescent Suzuki took 16th aboard his GSX-R1000. He earned a podium at the Italian circuit in 2007 while riding for Suzuki in MotoGP though hasn’t ridden there since a 2009 practice session in World Superbike. “Although it’s not my favorite circuit, I actually do enjoy riding there because it has a lot of variety and is technically challenging.”
Competition for pole position will be close though as the top 17 riders were within 1.002 seconds of Checa’s top time.
World Superbike Misano Friday Results 2012:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’36.521
2. Johathan Rea (Honda) 1’36.568
3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’36.703
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’36.795
5. Davide Giubliano (Ducati) 1’36.806
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’36.829
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’36.957
8. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’37.009
9. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’37.022
10. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’37.044
11. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’37.280
12. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’37.295
13. Eugene Laverty (Apilia) 1’37.340
14. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 1’37.406
15. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1’37.439
16. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1’37.514
17. Matteo Baiocco (Ducati) 1’37.523
18. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1’37.614
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’37.733
20. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’37.948
21. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1’38. 112
22. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1’38.198
23. Leandro Mercado (Kawasaki) 1’39.038
24. Federico Sandi (BMW) 1’40.251