Ducati’s Checa: 6th Superpole at Imola

2011 World Superbike

For the sixth time in the 2011 World Superbike Championship, Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa claimed the Superpole.

This was after the Spaniard, who leads the championship by 76 points over Yamaha’s Marco Melandri, gave a last-minute push at Imola to hold off a charge by Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Checa would post a 1:47.196, which would become the new lap record.

Rea was only 0.078 of a second behind, the Northern Irishman using for the first time a “Ride-By-Wire” throttle system, which was regulated for use just last Friday. Joining Checa and Rea on the front row will be Pata Racing Aprilia’s Noriyuki Haga and Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes, who took the pole last season at Imola.

Heading up the second row for Imola World Superbike, Round 11 of 13, will be Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty. Sixth fastest during Imola Superpole was Leon Haslam on the BMW Motorrad S1000RR, the Brit being the final rider to post within a second of Checa.

Finishing up the second row are Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati’s Sylvain Guintoli (seventh) and BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike’s Ayrton Badovini (eighth).

As for Melandri, the only man who realistically has a chance to steal the title from Checa, the Italian qualified ninth. If Checa garners 26 points on at Imola Sunday, he will clinch his first-ever World Superbike title.

Following is a breakdown of each Superpole session (courtesy of Althea Ducati):

Superpole 1: in hot conditions, and on race rubber, Checa completed two laps, the second of which placed him third. He therefore progressed to the second stage with no problems. Young Italian rider Sandi made two exits, one with a race tire and a second exit with a qualifier, recording a best time of 1m48.8. With this time, he unfortunately did not pass to the second phase and will start in fourteenth position on tomorrow’s grid.

Superpole 2: using the first of two qualifying tires, Checa recorded the sixth fastest time but to be sure of safe passage to the final phase, he went back out with the second qualifier and this time he improved on his time, closing in third.

Superpole 3: with no more qualifiers available to him, Carlos went out on used rubber but this did not prevent him from snatching pole, and scoring a new lap record at the same time with his impressive time of 1m47.196. This is Carlos’ sixth pole of the season, a very satisfying result for the whole team.

Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R Superbike) says: “I’m really happy with today’s pole because it comes just at the right time. I was having some problems with the first Q tyre and had to use the second, to then do the final stage without a qualifier.

“I gave it my all in the final phase and was able to make a very fast, very clean lap, but you always have that doubt at the end that maybe someone went faster in the final seconds! Rea was really strong today and I knew he’d be there on the front row. I’m looking forward to two really competitive races tomorrow.”

2011 World Superbike: Imola Superpole Results:

1. C. Checa (Althea Ducati) 1’47.196

2. J. Rea (Castrol Honda) 1’47.274

3. N. Haga (Pata Racing Aprilia) 1’47.442

4. T. Sykes (Kawasaki Racing) 1’47.468

5. E. Laverty (Yamaha Superbike) 1’47.929

6. L. Haslam (BMW Motorrad) 1’48.081

7. A. Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) 1’48.234

8. S. Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati) 1’48.416

9. M. Melandri (Yamaha Superbike) 1’47.781

10. L. Camier (Alitalia Aprilia) 1’47.85