The Superbike World Championship riders were welcomed to Valencia by warm sunshine and a dry track surface, allowing them to make rapid improvements in their race set-ups.
The battle to set the fastest lap in the qualifying session was won by local rider, Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati), in a good session for vee-twin machines. His 1’34.220 was less than one second from the outright best lap, as the Spaniard once more put himself into the reckoning for a top result on Sunday.
It was a great day for the privateers, as Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Ducati) was an impressive second fastest, and Checa’s team-mate Shane Byrne third. The first non-Ducati was the Aprilia Alitalia machine of Max Biaggi, with points leader Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki) fifth.
The official Ducati Xerox machines of Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga were down in sixth and seventh places today, with Fabrizio falling late on in the timed session. Another Ducati rider, Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Ducati) reminded us all he was a winner here two years ago by going eighth fastest, 0.829 from Checa’s best lap.
Top Yamaha rider proved to be Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) ninth fastest, while reigning BSB Champion Leon Camier placed the second Aprilia Alitalia factory bike tenth.
Honda, BMW and Kawasaki riders had some high points today but Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) was 13th in qualifying, Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 14th and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 19th today. Corser was inside the top four in the first unofficial session of practice, but fell late on in the timed session, losing a chance to make an even better lap.
Carlos Checa says: "This bike works well at this type of circuit, especially in the tighter sections in the middle of the lap. I worked this morning on finding a rhythm and working with the soft rear tyres. I have decided which rear tyre to use already, but not the front yet. There is not such a long straight here, so there are possibilities for us. But it is only Friday and I think Biaggi, Haga and Haslam will be in there also."
Jakub Smrz says: "I feel quite confident but we are still working to find a set-up for the race. For some laps the bike feels OK. We just need to improve the set-up and my general feeling on the bike. We are not perfect yet. The bike is basically the same as last year but we have a new front fork."
World Superbike Times: 1.Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’34.220; 2. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’34.502; 3. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’34.690; 4. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F. 1’34.771; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’34.780; 6. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’34.886; 7. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’34.935; 8. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’35.049; 9. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’35.052; 10. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F. 1’35.132; 11. Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’35.189; 12. Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’35.203; 13. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’35.232; 14. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’35.279; 15. Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’35.467; 16. Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 1’35.555