Carlos Checa has sent out a warning signal to rivals that Ducati doesn't need a factory presence to set the World Superbike pace this season, as he led a trio of 1098Rs on the first day of testing at Phillip Island.
The Spaniard and his Althea Racing team has been elevated to Ducati's 'de facto' factory representative in the absence of a full manufacturer effort, Checa was on fine form as he paced the second of the day's session with a margin of a second over Sylvain Guintoli.
Indeed, Checa's 1min 31.383secs already places him to within three tenths of Regis Laconi's lap record on what was a dry – but cold – circuit.
Emphasising Ducati's show of strength, morning pace setter Guintoli and Jakub Smrz filled positions two and three as they headed what was an otherwise close pack of riders.
Having played it cautious by not venturing out on track in the morning, reigning champion Max Biaggi
showed no signs of rust as he powered to the fourth best lap, ahead of countryman Michel Fabrizio
on the sole Alstare Suzuki.
Kawasaki were once again up with the pace setters, though Tom Sykes replaced Joan Lascorz as its lead representative in sixth position, while Marco Melandri's Yamaha, Jonathan Rea's Honda and Leon Haslam's BMW ensured all seven manufacturers enjoyed some top ten representation. Eugene Laverty rounded out the top positions in tenth.
As with Biaggi, Leon Camier made it onto the track this time around, setting the 15th fastest time after a mechanical problem, ahead of Noriyuki Haga
and James Toseland, who were struggling down in 16th and 17th on their Aprilia and BMW machines.
Three red flags were deployed during the session after a flock of geese descended on the circuit, creating a potential safety risk for riders.