In cloudy but fairly warm conditions (air temperature 19˚C, track 30˚C), the Ducati Alstare men took to the track this morning for the first free practice session. Badovini made a strong start to the weekend, positioning himself in the top five in the initial stages. Making some small changes to the set-up of their 1199 Panigale bikes, both Badovini and Checa were able to make solid progress throughout the 45-minute session, recording their fastest laps in the final seconds to conclude in eighth and ninth position with almost identical lap times – Badovini 1’49.281, Checa 1’49.291.

Ayrton Badovini
Ayrton Badovini

Photo by: Dave Dyer

First qualifying took place in similar conditions later in the day, and Ayrton continued to work well with his team, improving almost immediately on the times set this morning. Finding a good pace, the Italian rider was able to improve consistently throughout the session, finishing in overall fourth position thanks to a fastest time of 1’47.6, just four tenths of a second from leader Sykes. Carlos improved by more than half a second but still has work to do in preparation for the races. He closed in twelfth position today, with a best time of 1’48.7.

Carlos Checa: “To be honest I hoped it would go a little better today, after our results in Portimao. I’m feeling strong, I like the track and in the past I’ve always gone well here. I don’t know, today we didn’t manage to find a solution that allows me to ride as I want to. During the last exit, with a modified set-up and a used tyre, I felt some improvement but then I didn’t have time to come back and change to a fresh tyre. Anyway, today’s only the first day, we’ll make some changes tonight and I’m sure that tomorrow we’ll see improvement.”

Ayrton Badovini: “I’m really happy with today’s results. It’s the first time that I’ve really been able to lap fast and find a good pace right from the start. It’s probably also due to the fact that I was able to really train and prepare properly for this round, now that my ankle is stronger. This is the kind of satisfaction we’ve been looking for. But this is only the start, and tomorrow we’ll continue with the work programme. The important thing is to remain focused on Sunday’s races. I’m confident and really want to do well here at Imola, at what is my home track and Ducati’s too.”

TIMES (Qualifying): 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’47.2; 2. Rea (Honda) 1’47.3; 3. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’47.6; 4. Badovini (Ducati Alstare) 1’47.6; 5. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’47.7; 6. Melandri (BMW) 1’47.7; 7. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’47.8; 8. Camier (Suzuki) 1’48.1; 9. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’48.3; 10. Baz (Kawasaki) 1’48.6; 11. Davies (BMW) 1’48.6; 12. Checa (Ducati Alstare) 1’48.7

Team SBK Ducati Alstare