UPDATED: Checa Perfect in Assen

Henny Ray Abrams | April 16, 2011

Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa (Duc) kept his perfect Superpole record alive by rebounding from a downfield qualifying performance to take his third pole in a row at the Dutch round of the World Superbike Championship in Assen.The Spaniard was ninth after Saturday’s second qualifying session and more than half a second off the pace going into Superpole and tenth in Superpole 1. Then he made his move. Checa jumped up to a shadow second in Superpole 2 heading into the session that counted most, Superpole 3. Checa only ran  two laps at speed in the final ten minute session. The first was nearly good enough for the pole and the second was.The lap time of 1:35.292 mins. put him a comfortable .268 sec. up on Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing’s Jakub Smrz (Duc)  heading into Sunday’s two races at the Circuit van Drenthe in northern Holland. Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty was .030 sec. slower than Smrz, with PATA Racing Team Aprilia’s Nori Haga filling out the front row.”The result, to tell the truth, came as a surprise because we were struggling a little in the first phase of the Superpole and it is easy to find yourself knocked out for just a tenth of a second,” he said. “We risked going out, but were luckily able to continue and the qualifying tires in the second and third sessions really worked well for me.”In the final session I was able to make two very fast laps, one of which was very clean, without mistakes, and this way we took the fastest time. I didn’t expect it because in the final minutes other riders were lapping very fast too but of course I am extremely happy with the result.”The third pole in three races, incredible! I must, however, remain realistic; tomorrow will not be easy because we’ve seen that times are closer than ever. I’ll do my best to get a strong start and stick with the leaders and we’ll see what we can do.”Said Smrz, “I wanted the pole today but I had some trouble with the tires. The bike was good, but Carlos was very fast today. It’s good to be on the front two, the team and everyone did good work. I learnt that I was only 12th after Superpole 1 because I didn’t see the lap times, so I was lucky in the first one. Then I started pushing in the second session, but here it’s always very close and it’s never easy.” And Laverty added, “It was an eventful session. We used the qualifiers up during the Superpole so in the end I had to use a softer race tire. I surprised myself with the lap time when I saw it on the dash. That was great! I knew it was going to be enough for the front row, but it was tough. I could do times like that for a couple of laps but we’ve got some work to do for the races to make the bike more stable.”Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea, last year’s double winner who was fastest after second qualifying, is on the row two pole in front of world champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia), the Italian who crashed heavily in the final free practice before Superpole. Next to him are Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and Yamaha’s Marco Melandri, who lost a chance to take the pole by crashing having completed only one lap at speed.The first rider to miss out on Superpole 3, Aprilia Alitalia’s Leon Camier, will start ninth ahead of BMW Motorrad’s Troy Corser. Kawasaki’s Joan Lascorz and BMW Motorrad’s Leon Haslam fill out the third row.


1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:35.292

2. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:35.560

3. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1:35.580

4. Nori Haga (Aprilia) 1:35.920

5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:36.138

6. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:36.302

7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:36.351

8. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1:37.036

9. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1:35.903

10. Troy Corser (BMW) 1:35.954


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.