Max Biaggi has sent out a warning signal to his World Superbike rivals after almost taking pole position for the 2011 opener at Phillip Island – around a circuit he freely admits doesn't favour the Aprilia RSV-4.
The Italian came to within 0.013secs of displacing Carlos Checa, the weekend's dominant figure thus far, during Superpole after joining his rival in dipping below the previous lap record.
The result comes despite Biaggi's claims that he would likely struggle around the Australian venue as it isn't as well suited to the RSV-4 as other circuits on the calendar.
As such, while his lap of 1min 30.895 wasn't quite able to pull off a surprise, he was nonetheless thrilled with the result.
“Wow! Thirteen thousandths are nothing,” he said. “It means that even on this track, which has never favoured us, we have improved a lot compared to the last two years. I am truly happy with this result which is to the merit of the team's hard work coming here and testing during the off season.
“Those tests allowed us to better understand our problems, so we worked hard on the details, small adjustments which can make the difference. We are not the fastest, but one thing for sure is that for the races we're competitive.
“The weather conditions [for the race] will be important, the temperature and the tyres we choose as a consequence. Then, as always, we'll be ready to give it our all.”