Alstare Ducati's Carlos Checa
is confident a top six finish is within reach on the new Panigale 1199R at this weekend's opening round of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
The Spaniard sprung a surprise to top the times during the official two-day test at the awe-inspiring venue this week on the new Ducati and has set out his stall as he analyses his chances on Sunday.
Checa boasts a superb record at Phillip Island, having won four of the last six races there in recent seasons.
Last year, he bounced back from a spectacular high-side in race one last year to take victory in the second outing.
The 2011 champion missed the two-day private test at Phillip Island due to a blocked intestine but wasted no time in making amends as he put the twin-cylinder Panigale at the top of the times this week, lapping in 1m 31.059s to pip Marco Melandri on the Goldbet BMW.
“I've always got on very well at Phillip Island and we have good references here that will be very useful,” said Checa.
“Of course, the race is going to be very hard and competitive and we don't really know how the tyre wear is going to be.
“It will be definitely be harder once the tyres are worn and that will affect the lap times.
“There are still some areas on the track where we struggle, like turn 3, and you have to have a lot of confidence going into turn 1 as it is so fast,” he added.
“It's hard to say what's going to happen in the race, but for sure a top six is possible depending on the conditions.
“After today, my aim is to be challenging the leaders.”
The Ducati 1199 replaces the 1198/1098, which was victorious on its WSBK
debut with Troy Bayliss
in 2008 ahead of the Australian's dominant run to the title.