PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia — Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) held off the charge of his old rivals Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) in Monday’s two official World Superbike 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 tires 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.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.