Checa & Sykes prove quickest title contenders at Phillip Island Test
Using race tyres Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) was once again the fastest rider on track at the private test for several riders in the world superbike and world supersport classes at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit today.
The defending world champion, Checa set a 1’31.8 lap on today’s final day aboard his Ducati, with both morning and afternoon sessions filled with interruptions and red flags. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ran Checa close when, also using race rubber, he set a 1’31.9 lap time.
Said Checa, “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 tyres. 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!”
Leon Haslam used a qualifying rear to do a 1’32.2, but his team-mate in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team Marco Melandri found no improvements with qualifying tyres, and leaves the test with some work to do to regain front end feel and throttle connection. He fell early in the day, braking to avoid another rider entering the fast turn one.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) went fourth fastest in the combined times over all three days of the test, with two riders, Jakub Smrz (Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati) and Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) pushing hard and setting the same lap time of 1’32.4.
Eugene Laverty suffered a painful crash in the final afternoon session while on a race run, running off track at turn one. Initial examinations suggested a potential fracture to the left hand, behind the area of the third finger. He 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.
There were also any red flags due to rider crashes, and animals on the circuit, including a wallaby near the end of the test. Sydney’s Josh Brookes replaced the injured John Hopkins in the Crescent Fixi Suzuki team, and despite a crash he set a 1’34.5 time.
Australia’s Josh Brookes (Sydney) , who joined the Crescent Suzuki team after injury to contracted rider John Hopkins: “It was a surprise to hear that Hopper had been injured, but it was not a complete surprise to hear that I was next in line to ride. I just hope to represent Suzuki as best I can and do a good job around my home circuit. I persevered with John’s setting for most of the day with what worked for him, so it was interesting to see what he had in the bike and see how he achieved some of the times and speeds that he did when we raced together last year. His settings just did not suit me so for the final run, with ten minutes to go, we put something in the front that was more familiar to me. We still need to do some work on the bike as a whole just to suit my riding style.”
Australia’s Dave Johnson (Adelaide) wildcard for world superbike round 1, on a privateer BMW with a best time 1’34.1: “I cannot believe we did this well with this stock engine. We will be ready for race weekend because we will sort the race engine out and it will be all good. We just brought customer tyres here, but we have been setting our bike up with soft race tyres and we are getting good longevity out of it. I think we will be OK for race weekend. We will not be testing at the official tests next week, so our next track time will be the first day of qualifying.”
The official and final pre season test will be held next Monday and Tuesday, 20 and 21 February with the opening round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit the following Friday to Sunday (February 24-26).
COMBINED BEST TIMES FROM THREE DAY PRIVATE TEST
Carlos Checa : 1’31.8
Tom Sykes: 1’31.9
Leon Haslam: 1’32.2 Q
Max Biaggi: 1’32.3
Joan Lascorz: 1’32.4
Jakub Smrz: 1’32.4
Eugene Laverty: 1’32.5 (Tuesday)
Michel Fabrizio: 1’32.6 Q
Maxime Berger: 1’32.9
Leon Camier: 1’33.1
Marco Melandri: 1’33.0 (Tuesday)
David Giugliano: 1’33.5
Sylvain Guintoli: 1’33.5
Ayrton Badovini: 33.6 (Tuesday)
David Johnson: 1’34.1 – stock engine after race engine developed problem.
Joshua Brookes 1’34.5
Lorenzo Zanetti: 1’34.7
David Salom: 1’34.9 – but only a few laps Monday and Wednesday due to injured right wrist.
John Hopkins: Absent through injury
Best lap 1’31.826 – Troy Corser
In testing Checa last year 1’30.578.