Carlos Checa isn't expecting an easy start his World Superbike Championship defence at Phillip Island as he gets ready to contend with a series of potentially definitive factors in race conditions.
Though the reigning champion's pace around the Australian circuit has been strong since testing and practice got underway, Checa has regularly mentioned the effect of his Althea Ducati's 6kg weight gain, which in turn is leaving him 15kph off the pace through the speed traps.
Indeed, while Checa, who went on to qualify in third position, is able to make up the ground in the corners, he admits this, coupled to anticipated high track temperatures, could be problematic when racing gets underway.
“I can say that qualifying went well,” said Checa, who has won the last three WSBK races held at Phillip Island. “We worked once again on finding a strong race pace and the times came down too. We'll start from the front row based on the qualifying times which is good news for us.
“I was able to find better pace and am therefore pretty confident for the races. Having said that, it won't be easy, firstly due to the heat and mainly due to the extra six kilos we have on board, especially when we're losing 15km/h on the straight to the other riders. I will do my best as always and we'll see.”
Having made headlines with his run to third on the Q1 timesheets, Davide Giugliano endured a disappointing day on the second Althea Ducati as he was unable to better his lap times. Dropping him to the fourth row in 14th position, he is expecting to be more competitive in the races.
“I was shocked and sorry to hear about McIntyre and send my condolences to his loved ones. To talk about how my day went seems inconsequential but I can say that this morning I had trouble riding in such a strong wind. I didn't expect that and really had difficulty in the conditions.
“Starting from the fourth row means I need to get off the line as quickly as possible of course and see what I can do. We'll have to see how hot it is as I seem to go better the hotter it is; I think the temperatures will condition tomorrow's races.”