After two years peddling Hondas with modest mid-field success, Althea Racing look well poised to smash its personal best at the opening round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship following its switch to Ducati.
The Italian team prepared a single CBR1000RR for Roberto Rolfo in 2008, while Tommy Hill and Matthieu Lagrive rode for the bike in 2009, but has mustered only eight top ten finishes during that time.
However, Althea have undergone a major transformation over the winter, becoming a satellite Ducati team, expanding to two bikes and luring the experienced Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne to its rider line-up.
It's an investment that has paid dividends in testing, with both Checa and Byrne being amongst the overall pace setters and occasionally out pacing the factory Xerox team.
With this in mind, both Checa and Byrne are aiming high for the 2010 season and cannot wait to get started at Phillip Island this weekend.
“Phillip Island it's one of the best tracks in the world and I always look forward to riding here,” Checa said. “We tested on this circuit only few days ago and we were able to find a good base set-up. Certainly it will be a hard fought competition, but I am very happy with my new team and with my Ducati bike and so I am looking forward to finally get started.”
“I like this track,” Byrne added. “It's very fast and flowing, which normally makes for close racing in the Superbike category. Hopefully we can have some good weather to find a good setting for the bike and make the most of our Ducati package.
“The tests last weekend went well and we'll continue to test various things on Friday in preparation for Sunday's races. I'm extremely happy with the bike and the team is working really well and I can't wait to get started.”
Currently, Althea Racing's best World Superbike result is an eighth place finish for Rolfo at Vallelunga in 2008.