Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Carlos Checa today earned himself a provisional front row starting position for Sunday's two seventh round World Superbike championship races at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, USA.
In hot conditions with track temperatures around 52 degrees, the Spanish ace set the third fastest time in this afternoon's first qualifying session, with Italian Max Biaggi taking provisional pole position for the two 21-lap races around the 4.9km Miller circuit.
On his first visit to the circuit, Checa's team-mate, Jonathan Rea, who was on the podium last time out at Kyalami in South Africa, set the tenth fastest time this afternoon and is confident of improvement in tomorrow's qualifying and Superpole sessions.
3rd - Carlos Checa Speaks...
Well, it looks like we're on the pace at the moment. As we know from last year, the track suits the whole package really well but I think it will be a lot more difficult this year. Ben (Spies) and Max (Biaggi) are up there, too, and I'm sure Haga will come good tomorrow as well. But we have the speed and consistency of speed, which is important. The tyres are working well, although we have a couple of issues with the softer tyre, which is causing the bike to chatter a bit. However, I'm sure this is something we can work on and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
10th - Jonathan Rea Speaks...
All my problems seem to be in the first sector, which is where I need to pull my finger out. We don't know what the specific problem is but it seems to come when I'm leant right over on the tyre. We'll have a good look later and overlay the data from my two team-mates to see what we can improve. We haven't even started throwing tyres at the bike yet but, of course, there's a lot more time to come from me - it's my first visit here and I'm learning the track a little more in each session. But I really like it here; it's fast and flowing and really suits my style, so I just need to remove that mental block in the first sector and we'll be there.
Team Manager - Ronald ten Kate
We were pretty quick out of the blocks this morning, especially with Carlos, so we're really now working on fine-tuning the set-up and improving the race pace. We weren't too bothered about a single fast lap in that qualifying session. I'm happy for Jonathan, too, who is one of very few guys out there who haven't been here before. His only real problem is in the first sector, so we'll analyse that with the data guys tonight and see what we can improve for tomorrow.
2009 World Superbike championship, round seven - Salt Lake City, USA
First qualifying, results:
1 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1'49.820s
2 Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1'49.901s
3 Carlos Checa (ESP) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1'50.144s
4 Jakub Smrz (CZE) 1'50.282s
9 Ryuichi Kiyonari (JPN) Ten Kate Honda Racing 1'50.701s
10 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1'50.740s