Checa exceeds all expectations by topping time sheets in final test

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Carlos Checa stunned his WSB rivals on the final day of testing at Phillip Island by setting the fastest time onboard his Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale R.

His leaderboard topping lap time is the first indication of the pace and potential of the all new Ducati. Checa’s pre –season testing has been a disaster due to poor weather and medical problems – Checa missed last week’s two day private test after being hospitalized with a blocked intestine.

Checa said: “It’s nice to do the best lap time, with everybody in the same conditions, and it was a nice surprise for me. I honestly didn’t believe that we’d be at this level at this point. I like this track, it’s fast and flowing, which suits me and the Ducati, but I didn’t expect to be the quickest.

"Before this test, I thought we’d be about 7-8th. The team have worked really well and we’ve improved every time we’ve gone out. This bike is very reactive and it has not been so hard finding a good setting.”

Italian Marco Melandri set an impressive lap time of 1.31.327 to finish the test second fastest despite continued problems with his ongoing shoulder injury.

He said: “In these two days of testing we completed a lot of work and in general I am quite happy with the bike and we have a good base for the first race. We still have issues with tyre wear and we need to improve that for the races.

"The second issue is that we’re experiencing chatter, similar to last year’s race weekend at Phillip Island. We are working on solving that. Unfortunately my shoulder is still causing me difficulties, and I still feel pain. I hope that I will feel better on the race weekend.”

Leon Camier continued to show his pace at the Phillip Island circuit by setting the third fastest time onboard his Fixi Crescent Suzuki.

Despite riding with a fracture to his left wrist which he sustained in testing last week, factory Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes showed that he’s not planning on letting the injury slow him down. The 27-year old ended the test fourth fastest.

"I know that the wrist has been knocked about and you can tell there is a crack in it, likewise the ribs are pretty sore. There is still work to be done but with six hours track time the boys have done a fantastic job, one that has made my life easier.

"I can get on and ride the bike and I am enjoying it. I had been a little bit tense due to the circuit catching me out a few days ago, but I finished well, with a lot of information. We did a lot of laps yesterday and felt OK when I woke up this morning.”

At the end of official testing there were 11 riders within a second of the fastest time which included five of the British and Irish contingent. BMW man Chaz Davies concluded his testing in 12th place 1.043s behind Checa.

1. Checa (Ducati) 1'31.059
2. Melandri (BMW) 1'31.237;
3. Camier (Suzuki) 1'31.2433.
4. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'31.261;
5. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1'31.350;
6. Rea (Honda) 1'31.356;
7. Haslam (Honda) 1'31.549;
8. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1'31.640;
9. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1'31.658;
10. Laverty (Aprilia) 1'31.712; ;
11. Cluzel (Suzuki) 1'32.044;
12. Davies (BMW) 1'32.102;
13. Allerton (BMW) 1'32.159;
14. Stauffer (Honda) 1'32.255;
15. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'32.625;
16. Iannuzzo (BMW) 1'32.880;
17. Sandi (Kawasaki) 1'32.964;
18. Clementi (BMW) 1'33.293;
19. Lundh (Kawasaki) 1'33.447;
20. Badovini (Ducati) 1'33.686.

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider