The first Superpole of the 2011 World Superbike Championship is in the history books in more ways than one. The Spaniard Carlos Checa not only set the pace for Sunday’s WSBK season opener at Phillip Island, he also broke the Australian circuit’s lap record.
Checa, who was fastest at all sessions (FP1, FP2, Q1, Q2) leading to Saturday’s Superpole, posted a best time of 1:30.882 aboard the Ducati 1198R.
This was no surprise, considering Checa dominated the final pre-season World Superbike testing at Phillip Island earlier this week. He also won Race 2 last year at Phillip Island (Leon Haslam won Race 1).
But not far behind was the reigning World Superbike Champ, Max Biaggi, who was only 0.013 of a second behind. Biaggi set the fast lap during the final (third) Superpole session. * Third quickest was Sylvain Guintoli on the Effenbert – Liberty Racing Ducati Team, followed by Leon Haslam on the BMW Motorrad S1000RR.
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R) says: "In the end it was a very hard-fought Superpole but we are of course happy to have closed in pole position. We knew that it would be more difficult with qualifiers which usually bring riders’ times closer together.
"To start from the front of the grid is obviously valuable but I’m aware that I also need to make a good start to the races. Let’s say that I don’t trust anyone, in the sense that tomorrow will surely be a battle! We’ll see tomorrow how best to manage the situation but I think Biaggi will be my main rival. I am however determined to bring home two great results."
Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4) says: "Wow Thirteen thousandths are nothing. It means that even on this track which has never favoured 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.
"Those tests allowed us to better understand our problems, so we worked hard on the details, small adjustments which can make the difference. The engineers were very good. We are not the fastest, but one thing for sure is that for the races we’re competitive. Tomorrow the weather conditions will be important, the temperature and the tyres we choose as a consequence. Then, as always, we’ll be ready to give it our all."
Yamaha World Superbike rider Eugene Laverty will start from fifth on the grid aboard YZF-R1. Making up the sixth, seventh and eight spots are Jakub Smrz on the Effenbert – Liberty Ducati, Troy Corser on the BMW Motorrad S1000RR and Laverty’s teammate Marco Melandri.
Here’s a breakdown of the Superpole sessions (courtesy of Althea Ducati):
Superpole 1 – in this first 14 minute stage, Carlos made a first exit with a soft tire, immediately recording a lap time that remained the fastest of the session, ensuring himself of safe passage to the second session. A second exit was unnecessary.
Superpole 2 – in the second phase, Checa decided to make use of the first qualifier available to him. This was a strategy that paid off as he was able lap in 1m31.1, a time fast enough to allow him to return to the garage and await session three. He finished this phase in first place.
Superpole 3 – taking advantage of the second qualifying tyre, a determined and confident Checa powered his 1198 to set his best lap of the weekend, 1m30.882, fast enough to beat the previous lap record set by Laconi in 2009. With this extremely impressive lap time, Carlos snatched a very well deserved first pole of the year. Team Althea Racing is understandably more than satisifed with today’s results.
Catch the World Superbike season opener on SPEED TV Sunday, with Race 1 at 5 p.m. (EST), followed by Race 2 at 6 p.m.
* For 2011, the top 16 riders (instead of 20) are allowed into Superpole 1. Four riders will be eliminated after Superpole 1, leaving 12 and then four riders will be eliminated from Superpole 2, leaving 8 for the final Superpole 3 session.
2011 World Superbike Phillip Island Superpole, Final Qualifying Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 1’30.882
2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’30.895
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1’31.293
4. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1’31.429
5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 1’31.858
6. Jakub Smrz (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1’31.980
7. Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.182
8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) Yamaha YZF R1 1’32.662
9. Michel Fabrizio (Team Suzuki Alstare) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’32.153
10. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.204
11. Joshua Waters (Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’32.240
12. Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 1’32.708
13. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.346
14. Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’32.391
15. James Toseland (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.547
16. Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 1’32.788
17. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’32.847
18. Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.883
19. Maxime Berger (Supersonic Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 1’33.079
20. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) BMW S1000 RR 1’33.161
21. Roberto Rolfo (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’33.286
22. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’33.413