Photography By: Gold & Goose
Althea Ducati’s defending World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa ended the three-day test at Phillip Island in Australia with the fastest lap – his 1:31.8 set on race tires on a final day filled with crashes, red flags and visits from the local wildlife.
“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,” Checa said. “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 tires. 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.”
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes ran close to Checa, the Brit also using race rubber, with a 1:31.9. The final day was the hottest of all three days, which presented a new set of challenges, and held back lap times in the middle of the afternoon.
Leon Haslam used a qualifying rear to do a 1:32.2, but his teammate in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team, Marco Melandri, found no improvements with qualifying tires, and he 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.
Aprilia’s Max Biaggi 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. After visiting the 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 expects him to be back for race weekend.
Final Combined Times
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:31.8
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:31.9
3. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:32.2
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:32.3
5. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1:32.4
6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:32.4
7. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:32.5
8. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:32.6
9. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1:32.9
10. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:33.1