Checa dominates opening day at Miller, Camier second

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Championship leader Carlos Checa lived up to all the hype that he will be the man to beat by decimating his rivals during the opening free practice and qualifying sessions at Miller.

The Althea Ducat rider overcame two technical problems in the opening free practice session to head the standings and then reasserted his dominance in qualifying to take provisional pole by a massive 0.795 seconds.

Checa said: “We made a great start today despite this morning’s issues. I was able to find a good rhythm almost immediately and the feeling I have here this year with my bike seems to be slightly better than last year. As I said it’s gone quite well today but there is still work to do tomorrow. Results are never a given, also because this weekend it seems that the weather conditions will play an important part. I’m still very optimistic though and we’ll work to make further improvements during tomorrow’s sessions.”

Second position went to a resurgent Leon Camier onboard his Alitalia Aprilia RSV4. The British rider finished second to Checa in both sessions and unlike in recent races was able to get a good amount of track time with a total of 42 laps completed during the day. He finished ahead of his team mate and reigning world champion Max Biaggi.

Factory Kawasaki man Tom Sykes got his season back on track after major disappointment at the previous two rounds of the series to set the fourth fastest time of the day. Troy Corser was another man on form in fifth to finish top BMW.

Jonathan Rea and his Castrol Honda team made a positive start on a circuit where they have previously struggled by ending the day sixth fastest. Rea and his team-mate Ruben Xaus benefited from a two day test at the American circuit last week and while they are still having problems they are clearly in better shape than they were in 2010.

Rea said: “I can certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the problems we’ve had here. We’re still losing a lot on speed and while the gearing is working in some places, we’ve got really low rpm in others where we need the speed. I think, all in all, Carlos looks to be in a different league but our target has to be the podium on Monday.”

Monza race winner Eugene Laverty ended the day in eighth after struggling with grip and running down in 18th position for the majority of the timed session.

He said: “I ended up in eighth position which isn’t bad. It’s important to be in the top two rows especially seeing that it’s threatening rain for tomorrow. I was outside the top 16 for a while as I was having difficulty with the front of the bike. We worked on improving the set-up and put in a good time towards the end. I’m sure we have made a break through with the bike today. I was having trouble making the apex in this morning’s free practice but now I’m confident we are heading in the right direction.”

While the majority of the Brits faired well on the opening day it wasn’t easy for BMW men Leon Haslam and James Toseland who qualified down in 16th and 18th places respectively. Having made good progress with the S1000RR in recent testing, Haslam was forced to re-address the engine braking and electronic problems he faced at the beginning of the season. While Toseland was severely hampered by his recent hand injury and subsequent surgery,  losing the majority of his time through the five right hand corners on the track, which are still very painful for the 30 year old Brit.

With rain forecast for second qualifying, it’s likely that the first qualifying times will stand until Superpole on Sunday afternoon.

Miller - SUPERBIKE - Qualifying 1

1.  Carlos ChecaDucati (Althea Racing) 1'48.260 1098R
2.  Leon CamierAprilia RSV4 (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) 1'49.055 Factory
3.  Max BiaggiAprilia RSV4 (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) 1'49.306 Factory
4.  Tom SykesKawasaki (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) 1'49.432 ZX-10R
5.  Troy CorserBMW S1000 (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 1'49.552 RR
6.  Jonathan ReaHonda (Castrol Honda) 1'49.621 CBR1000RR
7.  Jakub SmrzDucati (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) 1'49.683 1098R
8.  Eugene LavertyYamaha YZF (Yamaha World Superbike Team) 1'49.708 R1
9.  Michel FabrizioSuzuki (Team Suzuki Alstare) 1'49.855 GSX-R1000
10.  Ayrton BadoviniBMW (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) 1'49.881 S1000 RR
11.  Noriyuki HagaAprilia RSV4 (PATA Racing Team Aprilia) 1'49.938 Factory
12.  Marco MelandriYamaha (Yamaha World Superbike Team) 1'50.136 YZF R1
13. Sylvain  Guintoli1'50.140 Ducati 1098R (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing)
14.  Ruben XausHonda (Castrol Honda) 1'50.149 CBR1000RR
15.  Joshua WatersSuzuki (Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team) 1'50.153 GSX-R1000
16.  Leon HaslamBMW S1000 (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 1'50.159 RR
17.  Joan LascorzKawasaki (Kawasaki Racing Team) 1'50.195 ZX-10R
18.  James ToselandBMW (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) 1'50.306 S1000 RR
19.  Mark AitchisonKawasaki (Team Pedercini) 1'50.646 ZX-10R
20.  Maxime BergerDucati (Supersonic Racing Team) 1'50.717 1098R
21.  Roberto RolfoKawasaki (Team Pedercini) 1'51.586 ZX-10R

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider