Ducati’s Checa Tops Private SBK Test

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2012 World Superbike

As the three-day private World Superbike test at Phillip Island, Australia, progressed, one rider continually posted quicker lap times – Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa.

The reigning World SBK Champion began with a 1:33.3 on Monday, then a 1:32.1 on Tuesday, and a 1:31.8 on Wednesday, the final day of the private World SBK test, with many of the teams using Pirelli race tires.

On a day filled with red flags and interruptions by various creatures, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was again within a tenth of a second of Checa, the Brit posting a 1:31.9.

Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “I am feeling a bit better today and there were many stop-and-go situations and crashes, so this afternoon we lost a little bit and when it got really hot we were struggling a little to get the lap time. Today we did some changes that we will see for the race weekend.

“We cannot compare today with yesterday in terms of track conditions. We are satisfied because we had a plan to make some changes and we made them. Of course you expect to improve every time but we are already quite close to our limit. We did not bring qualifying tires.

“There were so many interruptions today and we even had a wallaby on the track – maybe the animals want to be protagonists. We do not have to go to the wildlife park, the wildlife park came here!”

Third fastest went to BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Leon Haslam, who posted a 1:32.2 while using a rear qualifying tire. As for his teammate Marco Melandri, the Italian struggled with front-end feel on the S1000RR, and dealth with throttle-connection issues. Melandri also suffered a crash at Turn 1 as he avoided hitting another rider.

The 2010 World Superbike Champion Max Biaggi was fourth quickest aboard the Aprilia Racing RSV4, the Italian posting a 1:32.3; following with identical lap times of 1:32.4 were Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati’s Jakub Smrz and Kawasaki Racing Team’s Joan Lascorz.

Biaggi’s teammate Eugene Laverty suffered a painful crash at turn one. World SBK reports that initial examinations suggested a potential fracture to the left hand, behind the area of the third finger.

World SBK says: “(Laverty) also slapped his right hand hard, and banged his head on the track, and after visiting hospital his injury was diagnosed as a fracture of the third metacarpal of the left hand. He is now heading back to Europe to have his hand looked at by his preferred specialist, but his team expect him to be back for race weekend. Track action was delayed for some time because one of the ambulances was tied up with Laverty’s incident.”

Crescent Suzuki’s John Hopkins was injured during a wrech Tuesday, and the American might need surgery on the same hand he injured during a crash while riding as a Wildcard entry at Brno MotoGP. British Superbike star Josh Brookes substituted for Hopkins on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and despite a crash, he managed a 1:34.5.

The entire World Superbike grid will be on the Phillip Island Circuit Monday and Tuesday for the first official test of 2012; the two-day event will occur before the first race of the series at the same Australian circuit Feb. 26.

2012 World Superbike: Phillip Island Private Test Overall Times:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’31.8; 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’31.9; 3. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’32.2 (Q); 4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’32.3; 5. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’32.4; 6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’32.4; 7. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’32.5; 8. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1’32.6 (Q); 9. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1’32.9; 10. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’33.1; 11. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’33.0; 12. David Giugliano (Ducati) 1’33.5; 13. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’33.5; 14. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’33.6; 15. David Johnson (BMW) 1’34.1 (stock engine after race engine developed problem); 16. Josh Brookes (Suzuki) 1’34.5; 17. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 1’34.7; 18. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’34.9 (only a few laps Monday and Wednesday due to injured right wrist); 19. John Hopkins (Suzuki) no time (absent through injury).

World Superbike Comparative Times:
Circuit Lap Record: Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1’31.826 – 2007
Best Lap: Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30.882 – 2011
2011 Testing: Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30.578