Carlos Checa is looking in very good shape to start his defense of his 2011 World Superbike title, after ending the three-day private test at Phillip Island at the top of the timesheets and on lap record pace. At the end of the test, Checa's best time - set on race tires - was around the pace of Troy Corser's race lap record from 2007, but the Althea Ducati rider had Kawasaki's Tom Sykes snapping at his heels, just a tenth behind the pace of Checa. Leon Haslam leaves the test with the 3rd fastest time, though the BMW man set the fastest time on a soft qualifying tire, while Aprilia's Max Biaggi is not far behind, half a second off the pace of Checa but just a tenth slower than Haslam on qualifiers.
The final day was the hottest of the three-day test, and the heat and fatigue appeared to have got to the riders, as there were a number of crashes at the high-speed Australian circuit. Wednesday's major victim was Eugene Laverty, crashing heavily at Turn 1, after a vicious headshake knocked the brake pads back into the calipers on his Aprilia RSV4, leaving him heading into Turn 1 at 315 km/h without any brakes and the Irishman no option other than to "lay her down" as Laverty put it on his Twitter page. Laverty broke the third metacarpal bone in his left hand in the crash, as well as banging both is right hand and his head hard in the fall. An examination at a local hospital gave him the all clear for the bang on his head, but the Irishman will need further treatment to his hand if he is to be fit in time for the first race of the season in 10 days' time.
Laverty was not the only rider to crash: Ayrton Badovini tangled with Marco Melandri, causing both men to fall, and even Carlos Checa crashed during the day. After Monday's run in with the local birdlife, it was the turn of the larger fauna to interfere with events on Wednesday, with wallabies wandering onto the track and causing the proceedings to be paused for a while.
The riders now have a few days' off ahead of the next official World Superbike test at the Phillip Island track on Monday, February 20th. That test will see almost the entire WSBK field take part, barring the injured John Hopkins, and with Eugene Laverty in doubt. That will be the final chance before the season kicks off for the teams to find a working race setup, ahead of the first race of the season the following Sunday.
Unofficial times courtesy of the official World Superbike website:
|1||Carlos Checa||Ducati 1198R||1:31.8|
|2||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1:31.9||0.1||0.1|
|3||Leon Haslam||BMW S1000RR||1:32.2||0.4||0.3||Qualifier|
|4||Max Biaggi||Aprilia RSV4||1:32.3||0.5||0.1|
|5||Joan Lascorz||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1:32.4||0.6||0.1|
|6||Jakub Smrz||Ducati 1198R||1:32.4||0.6||0.0|
|7||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia RSV4||1:32.5||0.7||0.1|
|8||Michel Fabrizio||BMW S1000RR||1:32.6||0.8||0.1||Qualifier|
|9||Maxime Berger||Ducati 1198R||1:32.9||1.1||0.3|
|10||Marco Melandri||BMW S1000RR||1:33.0||1.2||0.1|
|11||Leon Camier||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1:33.1||1.3||0.1|
|12||David Giugliano||Ducati 1198R||1:33.5||1.7||0.4|
|13||Sylvain Guintoli||Ducati 1198R||1:33.5||1.7||0.0|
|14||Ayrton Badovini||BMW S1000RR||1:33.6||1.8||0.1|
|15||David Johnson||BMW S1000RR||1:34.1||2.3||0.5||
Stock engine after race engine
|16||Josh Brookes||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1:34.5||2.7||0.4|
|17||Lorenzo Zanetti||Ducati 1198R||1:34.7||2.9||0.2|
|18||David Salom||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1:34.9||3.1||0.2||Limited laps due to wrist injury|
|19||John Hopkins||Suzuki GSX-R1000||no time||Absent through injury.|
Lap record: Troy Corser, 2007: 1'31.826