Checa heads the field after Day 1 of testing
Phillip Island (Australia), Monday 21 February 2011 - Indicated as one of the favourites at Phillip Island from the start, Carlos Checa (Ducati Althea Racing) got down to business in the afternoon, setting the quickest time in the second session of WSBK testing. The Spaniard held the top slot for most of the two-hour 20 minute run, and his time of 1 minute 31.383s was enough to put him almost one second ahead of second-placed man Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert - Liberty Racing Ducati). Checa's class leading lap time was only just short of the existing track best, with one full day of testing still to go.
Carlos Checa: "We know the Ducati works well here and this track I really like. We never tested with this bike here in the winter but from the beginning I felt comfortable. We started with the settings of last year's race and that was quite good. We changed some small things and understood some direction to take with set-up. Then it was just working with the tyres and I used three different ones. Now we need to check which one will be the best for the races. So we will try a long run tomorrow. But no matter the tyres we could do good lap times."
Third quickest today was Guintoli's team-mate in the Czech Republic-based team, Jakub Smrz, while another early front-runner Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) ran second for a while before dropping down to eighth.
After missing the first session, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) finally got down to work, the reigning world champion wasting no time in setting the fourth quickest mark, albeit one second away from Checa. Biaggi was one of several riders who had already tested at Phillip Island in the winter and found his bike as potent as it had been two months ago, despite the often windy weather conditions today.
The Italian was a fraction ahead of his fellow countryman Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare), while Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) and Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike team) were not far behind in sixth and seventh.
Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) was the top CBR rider on show today, ahead of Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in ninth and Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team) tenth. Behind Checa, the next nine riders were crammed into a gap of less than 0.3 seconds, showing just how competitive the 2011 season is shaping up to be.
The local wildcard riders enjoyed day one of testing at their home circuit, with Josh Waters taking his Yoshimura Suzuki to a top 12 ranking, only 1.7 seconds from Checa, while Bryan Staring (Pedercini Kawasaki) was 19th of the 23 riders, 2.6 seconds from Checa.
In the final stages of the second session, several wild geese unexpectedly settled close to the track, causing the Race Direction to bring out the red flags three times, out of fears they would be a danger to the riders.
On a totally dry track the lap times came tumbling in the second session and after 90 minutes of testing, the quickest time had been set by Fabien Foret, the Frenchman getting back to the top end of the results sheets on his new Hannspree Ten Kate Honda machine. Foret was almost one full second clear of the two Kawasaki Motocard.com riders David Salom and Broc Parkes.
Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda) looked particularly competitive, the Brit ending up fourth quickest, despite a fall late in the second session. New WSS talent Luca Scassa (Yamaha ParkinGO) was fifth ahead of Danilo Dell'Omo (Suriano Racing) riding the leading Triumph on his first appearance aboard the British three-cylinder machine. Pawel Szopek continued his encouraging run with seventh for Bogdanka PTR, ahead of Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Bike Service). Foret's team-mate Florian Marini (Hannpsree Ten Kate Honda) was ninth quickest, Kawasaki Lorenzini by Leoni rider Massimo Roccoli tenth.
James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR) had a big crash and injured his knee in the morning session, and elected to sit out the afternoon tests. He hopes to return to the action tomorrow, on the final day of the tests.