Checa fastest in Jerez practice

Published: 23 March 2007

Carlos Checa, Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias completed a Spanish domination to the delight of a large home crowd in Jerez in this afternoon's second free MotoGP practice session.

As well as putting the smiles on Spanish fans faces in sunny but windy conditions, their clean sweep of the top three boosted under pressure HRC engineers with the trio all riding the new RC212V Honda 800.

Checa took the spoils on his LCR Honda with a best of time of 1.40.851, edging out compatriot and home crowd favourite Pedrosa by just 0.055s. It was a drastic improvement for the 34-year-old, who was only 11th fastest in much cooler conditions this morning. Track temperature was a massive 16 degrees higher than this morning when it peaked at only 15 degrees.

Checa, who has only one podium finish in 11 starts at Jerez, said: "I felt more comfortable with the bike than before and more positive with the front. The top speed and acceleration is still not the best but it is less important at this track. We need to focus now on braking, turning and side grip but these are areas were can improve. I don't want to say what I've changed on the front but I am more comfortable. The bike is turning a little bit better but the improvements have come from the suspension and the Michelin tyre. Braking and corner entry are the big areas of improvement. Sometimes you test three different things and only one works, but today all three were better and I'm quite satisfied."

Checa tested three rear tyres today and declared himself happy with the last two, though he still was looking for more consistency tomorrow.

"We need to find some more consistency and also work on the qualifying tyre which is one area we must improve for tomorrow, " said Checa.

Pedrosa was second quickest, slashing one second off his best time from this morning and in another boost for the 21-year-old his factory Honda was in amongst the four flying Ducatis on top speed.

The top speed and horsepower advantage that was so obvious in Qatar earlier this month is seriously negated in Jerez, with riders in sixth gear for only 1.5s of the lap.
Ducati still topped the speed charts with Alex Barros clocking a best of 174.10mph, but Pedrosa's Repsol Honda was third fastest with a best of 172.80mph.

A late charge from Gresini Honda rider Elias fired him up to third position, one place ahead of former world champion Valentino Rossi, who Elias controversially knocked off in a first corner incident last year.

Pick of the non-Spaniard's was Qatar winner Casey Stoner, who was fourth, though the home trio were the only riders to break into the 1.40 barrier. Stoner finished fraction ahead of seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi. The Italian logged a best time of 1.41.198 in his 26 laps, though he was still way down the timesheets with his Fiat-backed factory Yamaha YZR-M1 only 15th fastest on the straight.

Quickest this morning was American Kenny Roberts Junior, though he was one of only three riders that failed to better their times from this morning, with Marco Melandri and Shinya Nakano also failing to lap faster this afternoon.

Roberts Junior's time was still fifth fastest on overall times for the day and sixth quickest this afternoon.

1. Carlos CHECA 1'40.851
2. Dani PEDROSA 1'40.906
3. Toni ELIAS 1'40.972
4. Casey STONER 1'41.171
5. Valentino ROSSI 1'41.198
6. Kenny ROBERTS 1'41.201
7. John HOPKINS 1'41.245
8. Chris VERMEULEN 1'41.305
9. Colin EDWARDS 1'41.339
10. Alex BARROS 1'41.362
11. Loris CAPIROSSI 1'41.409
12. Marco MELANDRI 1'41.477
13. Nicky HAYDEN 1'41.536
14. Randy DE PUNIET 1'41.666
15. Alex HOFMANN 1'41.835
16. Makoto TAMADA 1'42.097
17. Sylvain GUINTOLI 1'42.311
18. Olivier JACQUE 1'42.402
19. Shinya NAKANO 1'42.424
20. Kousuke AKIYOSHI 1'42.549