WSBK: MMP Day 2 Notes -- Taking the Bull by the Horns

Carlos Checa's public persona is that of a pretty low-key individual. So, it was completely in character for the Spanish veteran to say that the stunning 1:47.081 lap that he started the last Superpole session with was fantastic but the way that he accomplished it was "nothing special". Nothing special it might have been for the 37 year-old Checa, but for the rest of the pack it might have been as attainable as walking on the moon. Checa's hot lap earned him his second pole position in World Superbike and displaced the lap record he set here in 2008, which was his first. 

Second place man Max Biaggi almost had a day to forget when he crashed his RSV4 Aprilia in the afternoon warm-up session. Biaggi, unhurt in the incident, went out on track almost immediately on his back-up machine, but returned to the box after only a couple laps and stoically watched his Alitalia crew swab out the fine, silty, Utah dust that permeated nearly every nook and cranny of the RSV4. Biaggi's crew must have done a good clean-up job, because he trailed Checa by a mere .056 seconds in the first Superpole go-round and led the second over the Spaniard by .179.

The third session was red-flagged when Jakub Smrz and Johnny Rea high-sided their respective machines in rapid succession about midway through. Smrz didn't return to the track but his time held up so  the young Czech will start on the outside of the front row. Rea wasn't quite as lucky, as his Ten Kate Honda flipped back over the prone Ulsterman and left him with deep bruising on his leg and tire burns on his chest and neck that required that the rubber be literally scraped out of the wounds to his neck. Series leader Leon Haslam was also caught out by the red flag because he was on a flying lap on his final qualifying tire which didn't have enough life left in it to mount another attempt on the time sheets after the session resumed.

Barring catastrophe, tomorrow's races look to be a contest between the sheer speed of Biaggi and Checa's affinity for the 3.048 mile Miller circuit. Checa acknowleges that the key to a victory will be to get a good start to nullify the Aprilia's power advantage. The other riders on the front row agree. At the post-Superpole  meet and greet with the front-row finishers, Jakob Smrz was asked by a fan what kind of strategy it would take to beat Checa and Biaggi. To a roar of laughter from the crowd, Smrz said that all he had to do was get in front and not let either of them by. Third place qualifier Cal Crutchlow allowed that Smrz' strategy sounded pretty good to him. They may just have something there.


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Wow. I wouldn't have guessed about the tyre burns and needing to have rubber scraped out of his neck. :O