News 21 Feb 2010

WSBK: Checa leads the way, Corser top Aussie at the Island

Checa was fastest on day one at Phillip Island today.

Checa was fastest on day one at Phillip Island today.

Privateer Ducati rider Carlos Checa set the quickest time of the first day of track action at the official tests in Phillip Island in Victoria today, taking his Althea Ducati to a 1:31.959 lap time.

His pace was less than one second slower than the track best in this class of 1:31.050, which was set in qualifying for the 2009 race, but while the Spaniard blazed the track the four Australians in the field focussed on bike set-up rather than quick laps, all finishing the first day outside of the top ten.

The official Ducati Xerox machine of Michel Fabrizio was second quickest in the opening sessions, 0.390 seconds behind the flying Checa around the 4.445km circuit.

Both top riders set their best times in the afternoon session, when track surface temperatures reached 46°C, but in the slightly cooler morning session Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) was still fast enough for third in the combined times, with Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) fourth.

Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) pushed his machine to fifth place, just over half a second behind leader Checa, while another British rider, Shane Byrne (Ducati Althea), was sixth.

After suffering many injuries in 2009, Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) proved himself fast and focused on day one, going seventh, heading off Max Biaggi on the leading Aprilia Alitalia machine. A top day for the private Ducatis in general saw Jakub Smrz ninth on his Pata B&G Racing 1098R, while DFX Ducati rider Lorenzo Lanzi rounded out the top ten.

Leading Yamaha rider was James Toseland (Sterilgarda Yamaha) 11th quickest while the top Kawasaki lap was set by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), 13th fastest of 23 riders.

Top local rider proved to be former world champion Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and the local favourite was also the highest ranked BMW competitor in 14th with a best lap of 1:32.299, while the Sunshine Coast’s Chris Vermeulen was 17th fastest with a 1:33.648s lap on his Kawasaki set in the afternoon session.

Kempsey’s Andrew Pitt also improved in the latter outing with a 1:33.699 time putting the Team Reitwagen BMW 18th on the leader board, while Sydney’s Josh Brookes, called up this week to replace an injured Broc Parkes on the ECHO Honda, was 19th fastest with a 1:33.71 time on what was his first day on the bike.

The World Superbike teams have two further sessions tomorrow with nearly five hours of on track time scheduled.

Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Kenan Sofuoglu proved the fastest Supersport World Championship rider on display on the first day of Phillip Island testing, thanks to his morning time of 1:34.691, very close to his own track best of 1’34.320 with his opening day time, and has one more day to try and improve his pace even more.

Katsuaki Fujiwara’s 1:35.042 was enough for second overall, and also enough to hold off his team-mate Joan Lascorz. Although Lascorz was the fastest rider in the afternoon session, it was run at a slower pace than the morning outings.

Michele Pirro was displaced to fourth by Lascorz’s late improvement, but he was still ahead of Fabien Foret, Eugene Laverty and two-times champion Sebastien Charpentier, who was fastest Triumph BE-1 rider today as he makes a comeback to the class in 2010.

The 2010 Yamaha Phillip Island opening round of the Superbike World Championship is next weekend on 26-28 February.


Carlos Checa: “A very good start, quite positive. We didn’t expect this performance this early and especially not at this track, which is not easy. But we know that the Ducati can work quite well here and we arrived in Phillip Island after a quite good job in testing at Valencia. The team’s understanding of the bike is good, and also they helped me a lot to understand how to ride this bike in the right way. The feeling on the bike is special and so far it is a good experience to ride it.”

Michel Fabrizio: “We went quite well but the pace of Carlos Checa was very, very fast. I have a new engineer and we are working well. We made things better as we changed more and more on the bike but we just ran out of time in the afternoon session. We did not so bad, and I am sure we can improve tomorrow if the conditions remain good.”

Troy Corser: “It is always nice to come to Phillip Island as it is my home race. The bike is quite different to when we came here last year. Today we were testing different tyres and worked on the balance of the bike. We tried to find grip and made adjustments step by step. We are now using Nissin brakes. Their initial power is really aggressive. You actually cannot just grab the brake lever, you have to squeeze it carefully. Once you have the right setting and feel confident, the brake power is an advantage.”

Chris Vermeulen: “We actually had a lot of improvement today, mainly in the chassis and suspension side of things. We are a bit behind the regulars as we don’t really have a base setting, so we didn’t have any time to test tyres and push us up the time sheet. Then we had a small issue electronically this afternoon, which meant we lost a bit of track time. But our time is not that far out of the top eight, and I am still focussed on finishing in the top five this weekend.”

Andrew Pitt : “I need a massage. We made some progress but it’s still a bit of a beast and we’re overworking the typres a bit. We’re just trying to find that elusive balance, still guessing a bit, trying to find the right direction.”

1. C Checa (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’31.959
2. M Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’32.349
3. L Haslam (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’32.484
4. N Haga (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’32.518
5. J Rea (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’32.544
6. S Byrne (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’32.671
7. M Neukirchner (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 1’32.735
8. M Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F. 1’32.832
9. J Smrz (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’32.912
10. L Lanzi (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’32.979
11. J Toseland (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’33.135
12. S Guintoli (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’33.190
13. T Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’33.222
14. T Corser (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’33.299
15. C Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’33.444
16. R Xaus (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1’33.498
17. C Vermeulen (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’33.648
18. A Pitt (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’33.699
19. J Brookes (AUS) Honda CBR1000RR 1’33.710
20. L Camier (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F. 1’33.852
21. R Resch (AUT) BMW S1000 RR 1’34.361
22. V Iannuzzo (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’35.260
23. M Baiocco (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’36.087
24. R Hayden (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’36.155