Michel Fabrizio has thrown his name into the ring of possible World Superbike title contenders in 2009 after a commanding performance in testing at Kyalami saw him dominate over the three days.
Although the test, which saw six of the seven factory backed teams present, was geared towards helping Pirelli with the development of their 2009 tyres, it was nonetheless dubbed as the first indicator as to whom will be the rider and team to beat next year.
With that in mind, Ducati and Fabrizio came out best, the Italian going quickest on each day with a new lap record on every occasion.
Managing a best time of 1min 39,714secs, Fabrizio was a comfortable two tenths quicker than his closest rival, a result that upstaged his new team-mate Noriyuki Haga and slashed his odds of an outside title challenge in 2009.
Indeed, Fabrizio's pace on the qualifying tyre wasn't a fluke, the 24-year-old also coming close to slipping under the 1min 40secs barrier using race rubber. It means Fabrizio is beginning to look forward to the new season, which gets underway at the beginning of March.
“We tried qualifiers today and as I thought it allowed me to go just a little faster than I had so far. I was aiming to break the 1m40s barrier and succeeded, and even on the race tyre I managed 1m40 dead which wasn't bad.
“This afternoon got more difficult as I was very tired after the non-stop riding but all things considered, I'm very happy with how the three days has gone. This winter I'm concentrating a lot on training and physical preparation so as to be as fit as possible in time for the opening round at Phillip Island.”