Checa Leads French Friday

Henny Ray Abrams | September 30, 2011

Just when it looked like a little home cooking was going to put Sylvain Guintoli on top of the first day of World Superbike action at Magny Cours in France, both Carlos Checa and Eugene Laverty shot past him in the waning minutes of a heated session that saw the entire field separated by just 1.3 seconds – with the top 16 within a second of Checa.With Guintoli going from first to third in a matter of seconds, it was that man Checa at the top again. The Spaniard and his Althea Racing Ducati led this morning’s opening session and they did the same in the final session. Checa, who will wrap up the World Superbike Championship in the first race on Sunday, turned in a 1:38.652 at the end of the session to top Guintoli and the Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati. Then came Laverty on the factory Yamaha, the Northern Irelander also getting the better of Guintoli while coming just .012 of a second from taking the top spot from Checa.Guintoli, who could do no better than 10th this morning, held on for third – just .089 of a second off Checa’s best.Fourth fastest this afternoon was Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki, the Brit holding the top spot before things got fast and furious with five minutes to go. Sykes ended up just .208 of a second from Checa.Guintoli’s teammate Jakub Smrz was next, the Czech rider moving ahead of Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea at the end of the session.BMW’s Leon Haslam slipped from fourth in the morning session to seventh in the afternoon, but he was marginally better than the best of the Aprilias – ridden to eighth by Noriyuki Haga. Then came the second BMW ridden by Troy Corser with Kawasaki’s Joan Lascorz rounding out the top 10.With Max Biaggi missing from action for a second successive race, lone factory Aprilia man Leon Camier ended the session in 16th – but just less than a second behind Checa.Friday Qualifying

1.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:38.652

2.                  Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1:38.664

3.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:38.741

4.                  Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:38.860

5.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:38.942

6.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:38.957

7.                  Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:38.977

8.                  Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1:39.019

9.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:39.025

10.                  Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1:39.063


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.