Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) held off the charge of his old rivals Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in today’s two official test sessions at Phillip Island.
In the warmer afternoon track conditions the world champion was unable to improve on his best time of 1'31”947 set in the morning, finding he had reached a plateau in terms of pure pace. “We have reached a limit in this track in testing and it seems we are in the same limit, 1’31.8 to 1’31.9,” stated Checa. “We are trying different things, moving the bike, suspension and electronics and some things are better in one area then worse in another but the lap times are basically the same. It is not frustrating because we are working well and getting some good conclusions but I felt the track conditions today meant that everyone was struggling to improve lap times. I used both the wide and narrow Pirelli tyres and there is some difference between them, but we are still not clear which one can be the best.”
Biaggi, however, improved by a fraction with a sequence of fast laps towards the end, all in the low 1’32s. Melandri also made good progress, ending up with a time of 1’32”232, a full second better than the time he set in last week’s private test.
Leon Haslam, who crashed in the morning, did not take part in the afternoon run. Checks carried out in hospital diagnosed a fractured tibia in his right leg and the BMW man is considering having a screw put in to race in a few day’s time.
In the overall timesheets, Haslam was sandwiched by two more Brits, Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) in fourth and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in sixth.
Three Ducati riders filled the next three places, with Niccolò Canepa (Red Devils Roma) splitting the Effenbert Liberty Racing duo of seventh-placed Sylvain Guintoli and ninth placed Jakub Smrz. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) jumped to tenth in the afternoon session.
Honda World Superbike Team rider Hiroshi Aoyama set a 1’33”479 lap time after his first real day of competition against his new peer group, good enough for 15th among the 23 riders who were on track today.
Local riders Bryan Staring (Pedercini Kawasaki) and Josh Brookes (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) were 17th and 22nd respectively. WSB regular Mark Atchison was 23rd on his Grillini BMW. Supersport World Champion Chaz Davies was 20th today on his ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia in his first SBK test against all his new rivals.
One more day of official testing remains before the start of the first race weekend of the season.
Times: 1. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1'31.947; 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'32.132; 3. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.232; 4. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1'32.379; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.397; 6. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.465; 7. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'32.768; 8. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'32.836; 9. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1'32.848; 10. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'33.005; 11. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'33.104; 12. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'33.141; 13. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'33.246; 14. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'33.366; 15. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1'33.479; 16. Zanetti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'33.566; etc.
Australian Broc Parkes (Honda Ten Kate) went quickest in the afternoon session with a time of 1 minute 35.412 seconds as the track warmed up but the fastest rider of the day remained Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step). The Frenchman's morning time of 1 minute 35.140 kept him on the top slot. Fellow Kawasaki rider Kenan Sofuoglu (DeltaFin Lorenzini) confirmed that the ZX-6R machine will be tough to beat this year as he took the overall second place, followed by Parkes (photo).
Various PTR incarnations took the next two places, with Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) ahead of Frenchman Jules Cluzel, who is rapidly getting into the Supersport groove on the PTR Honda. Hungarian Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth) took his Honda to an impressive sixth place overall, with Russian Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) also doing a good job to finish in seventh.
Times: 1. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'35.140; 2. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'35.377; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1'35.412; 4. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1'35.652; 5. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1'36.115; 6. Nemeth B. (HUN) Honda CBR600RR 1'36.165; 7. Leonov V. (RUS) Yamaha YZF R6 1'36.740; 8. Pesek L. (CZE) Honda CBR600RR 1'36.784; 9. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'36.924; 10. Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 1'37.102; etc.