There appears to be no stopping Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa at Phillip Island this weekend. After heading the field in all practice and qualifying sessions, after also besting them at the official test session earlier in the week, Checa continued his roll with a new Superbike lap record of the Australian circuit en route to capturing the first pole position of the season in Superpole.”Basically we worked well all weekend,” Checa said. “When I passed down the straight I did 1:30.8, but I didn’t know I was first until the mechanics stopped me. But the difference is very small between first and second. At the end of the day, of course we like to be first, but we did a good job all weekend and that’s the best thing. We will see how I can manage the race; 22 laps here is long and we must try and keep the tires fresh for the end and see what position we have.”Checa ripped off his 1:30.882 to edge World Champion Max Biaggi in the hotly contested Superpole, the Alitalia Aprilia rider coming up just .013 of a second off the flying Spaniard.
“I’m very happy to start 2011 qualifying in a good way,” Biaggi said. “From last year to this year we’ve improved and that proves that the test we did in December gave us a lot of satisfaction. There are a few things I’d like to improve, just like my engineers, but it’s impossible to do everything. Maybe in the future, but so far I’m so happy.”Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, another who has been quick all week, ended up third on the front row for tomorrow’s two races on his Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati.”This is one of my best and favorite tracks, but more than this I think I’m just gelling well with the Ducati and enjoying riding this bike so much,” Guintoli said. “Here really was the first time I got to ride it, without needing some tires for the bad weather we had during testing. It’s been such bad weather testing but now I’m enjoying things. A great result for the team on its debut.”The front row will be filled by BMW’s Leon Haslam in what will be his maiden race on the S1000 RR.”A week ago we had a few problems and I was worried about not making the qualifying in the top 16, so to have made the progress the team has done is all credit to them, they have really put in the effort,” Haslam said. “I’m really very happy to be on the front row. Hopefully I can get a good start and we can get a similar result to last year.”Row two will be led by Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty. He’ll be joined by Guintoli’s teammate Jakub Smrz, BMW’s Troy Corser and World Superbike debutante Marco Melandri on the second factory Yamaha R1. Although the top five were within a second of each other, Melandri was 1.7 seconds slower than Checa in seventh place.The first of the Suzukis will lead the third row, with Michel Fabrizio riding the Alstare GSX-R1000 to the ninth fastest time. Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, wild card Australian Josh Waters and Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea will join the Italian.
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:30.8822. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:30.8953. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducat) 1:31.2934. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:31.4295. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1:31.8586. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:31.9807. Troy Corser (BMW) 1:32.1828. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1:32.6629. Michael Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1:32.15310. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:32.204