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.
Carlos Checa was fastest overall, with a lap time of 1:30.578, as the final World Superbike winter test ended Tuesday at Phillip Island. That time was also nearly a half second faster than the existing lap record set by Regis Laconi in 2009, and almost 1.3 sec faster than Troy Corser’s race lap record from 2007. In addition to Checa, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea, Jakub Smrz, and Joan Lascorz completed the fastest five. Rea’s time from Tuesday morning kept him third fastest despite a crash at Turn 3 in the afternoon that resulted in an injured hand. No word is available yet on the specifics of his injury.
Carlos Checa was fastest overall during World Superbike testing Monday at Phillip Island, nearly a second faster than anyone else during the dry running in the afternoon. Monday was a quick day for Ducatis, as Sylvain Guintoli led the morning session and was second fastest overall, while Jakub Smrz was third fastest of the day. Reigning champion Max Biaggi was fourth fastest, with Michel Fabrizio fifth overall. Notably absent was Christopher Vermeulen who will not ride during the test or his home race this weekend, and has been replaced by Akira Yanagawa at the factory Kawasaki team.
Team Pedercini announced today that Australian Mark Aitchison would partner Roberto Rolfo for the 2011 season, in what may finally be an end to the drama regarding their second rider. It was thought that former MotoGP/Moto2 rider Gabor Talmacsi would contest the 2011 World Superbike championship on a Pedercini Kawasaki, a move reinforced by Talmasci testing with the team at Sepang.
However then came the news that after Sepang he was still thinking about the team’s offer, then that Bryan Staring would be entered as a wild card for the team at the season-opener at Phillip Island. That decision presumably came because Talmacsi was either still considering, or had rejected, the offer from Pedercini. Now, it seems Aitchison is in, Staring is out, and Talmacsi has nowhere to go.
It appears as though World Superbike’s Team Pedercini may have promoted from within while waiting on a decision from Gabor Talmacsi for the 2011 season. Bryan Staring, former Australian Superbike champion, was to have been the team’s 2011 Superstock rider and teammate to Marco Bussolotti and Leandro Mercado.
Instead, he will be a wildcard entry for Phillip Island alongside Roberto Rolfo for the Superbike squad. Talmacsi tested for the team at the Kawasaki test in Sepang ten days ago but informed the team he would consider their contract for a few days before making up his mind.
Gabor Talmacsi ended his trial with Team Pedercini at the Sepang Kawasaki test on Friday by informing the team that he would let them know if he would race for them in 2011 in a few days. According to the team, he “sampled a Superbike for the first time in Sepang, with a view to a possible switch to the world championship with Pedercini team. Talmacsi was impressed by the team’s skill and the Kawasaki new Superbike’s performances and potential.”
Team Pedercini has had Roberto Rolfo signed to contest the 2011 World Superbike championship since late November. He was given the most time on the bike when Sepang’s afternoon rain was not falling. There is a note on what appears to be Talmacsi’s official Facebook page (here at A&R we are not, regrettably, fluent in Hungarian) that suggests that Talmacsi was a bit upset by his lack of time on the bike.
Chris Vermeulen is back home in Australia after participating in only one shortened day of riding during the Kawasaki WSBK test at Sepang this week. While the rest of the WSBK riders for both Paul Bird Racing and Team Pedercini will complete the scheduled test, Vermeulen was forced home to continue with his physical therapy.
He tweeted, “My knee reacted a bit after riding just a few laps, was fun back on a bike though!!” According to the team, Vermeulen will remain in Australia until the final Infront test at Phillip Island just before the season opener. He will miss the late January test in Portimao to concentrate on his recovery.
Chris Vermeulen is finally back on a racing bike at the official Kawasaki test in Sepang this week, after only beginning to walk “a couple of weeks ago,” according to his personal Twitter account. According to Kawasaki on this first day of their week-long winter test, “Vermeulen had never ridden the new bike before today and was instantly impressed with it.” Both factory teammates Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes had already ridden their Kawasaki World Superbike machines, but had not used the Sepang facility as Vermeulen has.
The factory team is joined by Team Perercini riders Gabor Talmasci and Roberto Rolfo, as posted at A&R last week. This is Vermeulen’s first time on his new WSBK ride after his knee surgery. He was quoted by the team as saying, “I eased into it today and only did a limited number of laps, over three separate runs…The last bike I rode around Sepang was a GP machine, so to be impressed with this motorbike already shows it is a very good start.” He also made a point of praising the team for their hard work and good development.
For kids too old for Santa, the beginning of racing season often brings about more excitement than a jolly man delivering presents. Winter testing often fills the gap for race fans. A long season of private and series-sponsored tests for World Superbikes get underway beginning next week, stretching until just days before the season opener at Phillip Island on February 27th.
The Kawasaki factory team and and satellite Team Pedercini get the season started off with their test, this coming Monday, January 10th through 14th, at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, while Liberty Racing Ducati will be riding around at Guadix, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten Kate will be at Motorland Aragon, which was highly praised at its MotoGP inaugural round last season, two weeks from now on January 20th and 21st.
Roger Lee Hayden, younger brother to former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, has signed with Team Pedercini for the 2010 World Superbike season. Roger Lee rode the Kawasaki ZX-6R to an AMA Supersport Championship, so theoretically he should feel at home again on Team Green satellite team in WSBK. However, the liter-bike class has proven difficult for the younger Hayden. In his three years on the Factory Kawasaki AMA Superbike team, two of those years were shortened by serious crashes.