WSBK: Checa Edges Biaggi for Superpole at Phillip Island

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Lapping by a very narrow margin over reigning World Champion Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa won the pole position for the 2011 World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island today. Though the Spaniard dominated the testing and practice sessions this week, Biaggi continued to improve his times, and was only .013s slower at the end of qualifying session. Also showing strong results were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, who complete the front row for Sunday’s races.

Jonathan Rea rallied after a severe testing crash and his second crash of the day to qualify twelfth, while Leon Camier, suffering from glandular fever, qualified sixteenth and did not make Superpole, a blow for the Aprilia factory team even as teammate Biaggi unveiled his #1 plate.

Checa was fastest in the qualifying practices, leading both sessions. He was followed by Biaggi, Tom Sykes, Guintoli, and Rea as the fastest five in the combined times. With the new rules for 2011, the sixteen fastest riders from the qualifying practices moved on to Superpole, while the slowest six at Phillip Island were knocked out after the final practice. Knocked Out in Qualifying Practice: 17. Leon Camier, 18. Bryan Staring, 19. Maxime Berger, 20. Ayrton Badovini, 21. Roberto Rolofo, 22. Mark Aitchison.

Superpole 1:
Guintoli and Biaggi were the fastest with ten minutes to go in the fourteen minute session, when all riders had completed one fast lap. Checa quickly took command, gaining a half second on his second fast lap while Sykes, Marco Melandri, Ruben Xaus, and James Toseland were down in the knockout zone with Superpole 1 half gone. Melandri moved up to eleventh, dropping Yoshimura Susuki wildcard Josh Waters into the kockout zone when five minutes remained. Sykes jumped up to ninth with two minutes remaining, putting Haga into trouble as well. Melandri moved forward on his final lap. When Superpole 1 ended, Biaggi had closed the gap to Checa (1:31.237), who was still fastest. Guintoli, Haslam, and Laverty completed the fastest five. Knocked Out in Superpole 1: 13. Joan Lascorz, 14. Noriyuki Haga, 15. James Toseland, 16. Ruben Xaus.

Superpole 2:
Checa led five minutes into the twelve minute session, with Fabrizio, Waters, Rea, and Smrz in the knockout zone. Biaggi had led for a moment, but Checa’s fastest lap was two tenths quicker than the Champion’s. With Smrz and Rea crashing and have to return to the pit lane, Michel Fabrizio drug himself out of the knockout zone with two minutes left, but only into eighth place. Smrz, after rejoining, moved up to eighth, dropping Farbrizio back into the knockout zone. Rea also returned to the track on his second bike, but made little progress. Superpole 2 ended with Checa fastest (1:31.105), leading Biaggi, Guintoli, Leon Haslam, and Laverty as the fastest five. Knocked Out in Superpole 2: 9. Michel Fabrizio, 10. Tom Sykes, 11. Josh Waters, 12. Jonathan Rea

Superpole 3:
Haslam was on pole four minutes into the final ten minute session, though not all the riders had yet posted a flying lap, while Troy Corser, Laverty, and Checa completed the front row at that point. Biaggi soon went fastest, only to be overtaken by Checa, with .013s separating the two riders with five minutes still remaining in the session. Despite the extra time, Checa and Biaggi remained in that order, with Guintoli and Haslam completing the front row with two minutes remaining. Biaggi then Checa headed into the garage without time to complete another run, ending the session with Checa fastest and starting on pole but Biaggi very close to the Spanish rider.

Superpole Results from World Superbike at Phillip Island, Australia:

Pos. Rider Team Time Diff.
1. Carlos Checa Althea Racing 1:30.882
2. Max Biaggi Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team 1:30.895 0.013
3. Sylvain Guintoli Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing 1:31.293 0.411
4. Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad Motorsport 1:31.429 0.547
5. Eugene Laverty Yamaha WSBK Team 1:31.858 0.976
6. Jakub Smrz Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing 1:31.980 1.098
7. Troy Corser BMW Motorrad Motorsport 1:32.182 1.300
8. Marco Melandri Yamaha WSBK Team 1:32.662 1.780
Out After Superpole 2
9. Michel Fabrizio Team Suzuki Alstare 1:32.153 1.271
10. Tom Sykes Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 1:32.204 1.322
11. Josh Waters Yoshimura Suzuki 1:32.240 1.358
12. Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda 1:32.708 1.826
Out After Superpole 1
13. Joan Lascorz Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 1:32.346 1.464
14. Noriyuki Haga PATA Racing Team Aprilia 1:32.391 1.509
15. James Toseland BMW Motorrad Italia SBK 1:32.547 1.665
16. Ruben Xaus Castrol Honda 1:32.788 1.906
Not qualified for Superpole
17. Leon Camier Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team 1:32.847 1.965
18. Bryan Staring Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1:32.883 2.001
19. Maxime Berger Supersonic Racing Team 1:33.079 2.197
20. Ayrton Badovini BMW Motorrad Italia SBK 1:33.161 2.279
21. Roberto Rolfo Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1:33.286 2.404
22. Mark Aitchison Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1:33.413 2.531

Source: WSBK