New Althea Ducati signing Carlos Checa outpaced factory 1198 star, and 2009 title runner-up Noriyuki Haga, to set the fastest lap time during testing at Valencia on Thursday.
Poor weather ruled out any effective testing on Wednesday, but conditions improved for Thursday, when former Ten Kate Honda rider Checa completed 53 laps of the chilly Spanish circuit.
Checa, a race winner in 500cc and WSBK, set a best lap time of 1min 33.8sec, which was 0.2sec ahead of Haga, 0.3sec ahead of Althea team-mate Shane Byrne and 0.5sec ahead of second factory Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio. BMW riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus are reported to have lapped in the 1min 35s.
The official all-time Valencia WSBK best lap is a 1min 33.270sec set during qualifying for last year's event by Ben Spies, but the race lap record is a 1min 34.618sec, set by Haga on his way to victory in race two of last year.
“I'm happy with my test today,” said Checa. “We have worked very well, despite the cold temperature. We have been focused on working through the set up of the bike to make sure we have everything ready for the beginning of the world championship.
“After Portimao and Valencia test I'm feeling more comfortable on both my bikes. Today we tested some new tyres and different setting and I think we did a really very good job.
“This afternoon I scored the best lap time, that's always something good, but I'm very happy also because I'm sure we are on the right way, ready for the first races at Phillip Island first,” he insisted.
Byrne, who completed 55 laps, is also full of confidence for the season ahead.
“Today was very good,” said the Englishman, who beat his best lap of the 2009 Valencia event - a 1min 34.238sec during Superpole. “I was able to do so many laps and my mechanics worked in a very good way. We pushed hard and I'm very happy with my best lap time and with our work here. I want to thank my mechanics and [team manager] Genesio for giving me a good bike.
“Now we'll go in Phillip Island for some more testing and for the first races of the season. I'm confident because we are in a really strong situation and have a good package to take to Australia,” he added.
“Both our riders performed very well and Carlos was the fastest rider at this test,” confirmed team manager Genesio Bevilacqua. “We are satisfied and now we can go home to get everything ready for the next test in Australia with confidence.
“We'll have some more days of testing in Phillip Island where we'll try some new components that our riders could use in the first races of the world championship,” he revealed.