Carlos Checa says he is 'focused' on signing off his title-winning 2011 World Superbike campaign in style after qualifying second at Portimao, even if the new champion has been courting plenty of speculation off the track.
The Spaniard had been one of the pace setters in free practice, but would lose out on pole position to Jonathan Rea by two tenths of a second.
Checa's run to second comes as rumours off the track have linked him with a shock switch to BMW for next season, the German manufacturer apparently putting a lucrative, limited-time offer on the table in light of Ducati's hesitance to support the rider and Althea Racing for 2012.
Nonetheless, the Spaniard is keeping his head down and concentrating on the job in hand, one that could see him end 2011 with 16 race victories.
“It's a special weekend for many reasons and we are of course extremely satisfied to be on the front row. I was able to make a great lap and go under 1m42 which is a very good result but Johnny was stronger here today.
“We're here to fight and tomorrow I want to be as competitive as ever. We will stay focused on tomorrow's races and try to do our best.”
Meanwhile, Davide Giugliano will start his first WSBK event from 15th position after struggling to get the best from the bike in Superpole having ended Q2 in an impressive fifth place.
“We can't be dissatisfied but, to tell the truth, I perhaps expected a little more from myself. I think that at this track and with this bike we can do a great job. We were doing that during some of the sessions but then it became more difficult in the Superpole with the qualifying tyre.
“I had never ridden with that tyre before and it was pretty different from what I'm used to. I hoped to reach the second phase, to please the team, but I think they'll be equally pleased if I can make two strong races tomorrow. I need to make a good start and then try to stick with the group in front of me. Tomorrow's another day and I'm confident.”