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Checa sets early pace in Australia

The Althea Ducati rider takes a clear six tenth advantage over nearest rivals Jonathan Rea and Joan Lascorz.
Carlos Checa continues to exert a dominance over the opposition around Phillip Island as the 2011 World Superbike Championship finally got underway with the Spaniard more than half a second quicker than his rivals.

Having smashed the lap record during testing earlier in the week, Checa – a race winner around the Australian venue last season – was once again in commanding form as he quickly got his lap times into the 1min 31secs bracket.

Though he would fall a second short of his best from testing, he would still end the hour-long session as the only rider to get below 1min 32secs.

It wasn't all plain-sailing for the former MotoGP rider however, as his session-topping lap of 1min 31.647secs was promptly followed by a tumble at the turn two left-hander.

Leading the fairly distant challenge in second position was Jonathan Rea, who put in a fine performance just three days after the 130mph crash that landed him in hospital. Moving up the order in the closing stages, Rea managed 23 laps with his injured hand.

Joan Lascorz, another man in recovery from injury prior to this weekend's curtain raiser, also made a bold impression in third position, the Superbike rookie, who holds the World Supersport lap record at Phillip Island, giving himself and Kawasaki a strong boost early on.

Having maintained a low profile in testing so far, Leon Haslam produced arguably his most convincing display on the BMW thus far as a late effort vaulted him from outside the top ten to fourth position.

It was enough to put him ahead of Sylvain Guintoli – who suffered a fall at turn nine – and Max Biaggi, the reigning champion running as high as third before slipping down the order.

Jakub Smrz, Marco Melandri, Michel Fabrizio and Eugene Laverty followed to ensure all seven manufacturers were featured inside the top ten.

Further back, James Toseland was 15th quickest, behind BMW Italia team-mate Ayrton Badovini, while Leon Camier – who revealed he goes into this weekend battling glandular fever (see separate story) - saw his day get off to a bad start when he fell during the latter stages, leaving him 18th overall.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Checa, Vermeulen, Corser, Xaus, Biaggi, Fabrizio, Melandri, Smrz, Australian WSBK 2011
Checa, Vermeulen, Corser, Xaus, Biaggi, Fabrizio, Melandri, Smrz, Australian WSBK 2011
Campbell, Checa, Vermeulen, Corser, Rea, Biaggi, Fabrizio, Melandri, Smrz, Australian WSBK 2011
Checa, Australian WSBK 2011
Checa, Portuguese January WSBK Test 2011
Checa, Australian WSBK Test 21-22 Feb 2011
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Sean - Unregistered

February 25, 2011 2:47 AM

Wont't be surprised if Checa takes the double this weekend. That ducati seems to be working well arounf the Island, and Checa of course. Very impressed with Lascorz' pace so he may go well. I predict Rea will be on the podium despite that heavy crash which almost put him out of contention. Melandri i have for a top 5 in both races, in top 3 but drops back due to shoulder. Eugene's times in testing wernt jaw-dropping but i believe he was working on a race setup, and rightly so. He could well be the dark horse. top 5 finish. Haslam has the ability but not the machinery. Guintoli could well do what Checa did last year with his first ride on the ducati.. looks to have a good pace. Biaggi will struggle here, top 7 though. Fabrizio will be inside the top 4 in the early part of the race but the suzuki will lack rear grip at the end of the race. Its not looking good for Toseland, im sure his recent results reflect on the year to come.. but i wonder if it might have been different if he signed



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