Crash.Net WSBK News
Fabrizio fastest, Ducati dominates final test
22 February 2010
The final pre-season test before the start of the 2010 World Superbike Championship saw Ducati riders, led by Michel Fabrizio, claim five out of the top six places.
The two-day Phillip Island test had added significance since the Australian circuit will host this weekend's opening round, where the 1198 riders will be looking to convert their apparent superiority into championship points.
Second best to Carlos Checa on day one, Fabrizio put his factory machine just ahead of three satellite Ducati riders during Monday's final day, which began on a damp track following overnight rain at the seaside circuit.
Fabrizio's fastest lap, of 1min 31.650sec, was set during the morning session and put the 2009 race winner just 0.012sec clear of Althea's Shane Byrne, with B&G Racing's Jakub Smrz and Byrne's team-mate Checa the only other riders to break the 1min 32sec barrier.
“I'm satisfied with the lap times because we were consistently fast,” said Fabrizio, third behind Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga in the 2009 title chase. “I found good race pace with one of the tyre compounds in particular and this bodes well for the weekend but the result will very much depend on the weather. There are several fast guys here, so it will undoubtedly be a tough race weekend, as well as a hard-fought championship. It's a difficult challenge but I'm ready to face it.”
Team-mate Haga had to be content with sixth position, just behind the top non-Ducati rider - Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea.
“Today we concentrated on suspension settings, making various changes during the day, but for some reason I didn't find the same good feeling that I had yesterday,” said Haga. “Having said that the lap times were fairly fast. With regard to tyres the difficulties are caused by temperature because an increase of just one or two degrees can make a difference. I can't really predict how the races will go on Sunday; I'm going to relax for two days and then we'll start work again on Friday.”
Ducati Xerox team manager Ernesto Marinelli was happy with the performance of both his team and the 1198s in general.
"We can be nothing but extremely satisfied with today's testing. The team and the riders have worked very hard and Michel in particular was very fast,” he said. “The potential of the 1198 bikes is demonstrated by the fact that there are five Ducatis in the top six. The race weekend will nonetheless be a tough one but we have a good baseline from which to start.”