Checa, current SBK world champion, got straight to work in thefirst practice session of the morning, projecting himself into first place after only ten minutes. In very warm conditions (air temperature 26˚C, track 41˚C), Carlos continued to improve throughout the 45-minute sessions, closing with a best time of 1m31.9. He was the only rider to lap in under 1m32. His team-mate Giugliano began to make progress in thesecond part of the session, working hard to increase feeling with his Ducati 1198 and improving on his times to close the practice in sixteenth position with a best time of 1m33.1.
Later in the day, in afternoon qualifying, Checa put in a similar performance, recording somevery fast times at the start of the session and moving into first position once more. He maintained a very good pace throughout the entiresession which, on a track now 53˚C in temperature, bodes well for Sunday's races. Having found a better setting this morning, Giugliano made a convincing step up mid-session to join his team-mate near the topof the timesheets. Both Althea men made a tyre choice that suited the warm conditions and, as a result, first qualifying saw Giugliano close in third position with a best time of 1m32.1, followed by Checa in fourth (1m32.2).
"We've worked well today.All went well apart from the incident of course; I lost the rear, maybebecause of tyre wear, and couldn't keep hold of it but luckily I didn'tcollide with the small wall in front of me! I was able to get back to the garage where we sorted the handlebar and changed the tyre. I had thechance to try the narrower tyre but we saw that the wider tyre lasts longer. The tyres were the focus of our work today really, identifying the best solution to ensure good race pace. I'm satisfied with what we've got done. I've always gone well with the Ducati at Phillip Island and so I think we can benefit from this ‘track factor' come Sunday."
"Itdidn't go at all badly. I had lost some feeling after my crash on Tuesday and so this morning was difficult but, with the team's help, I was able to regain confidence by the afternoon. Concentrating on findingfeeling means that we couldn't work on race pace but that will be on tomorrow's schedule. I had Carlos' help in putting together those fast laps and it looks like we have the potential to be fast -
now I just need to go out and find consistency on my own, which is difficult as I don't yet have all the references. Anyway, we've worked hard and we'll see what happens tomorrow but today we leave the track very happy."
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
"It was a very positive first qualifying session. Today we identified a better setting with Davide after carrying out some final tests this morning butthe key was selecting the most suitable tyre for him - this allowed Davide to put in a fantastic time that puts him in third place for now. Ihave to say that Carlos also gave him an involuntary hand in making that fast lap but the performance was nevertheless strong.
Carlos, having more experience, concentrated on finding a race pace that will allow him to complete the races at the highest level and was less worried about setting the kind of times he'd set in practice. He also selected the right tyre that will probably be the race tyre. All of the members of team Althea did a top job today which allowed our two Ducati riders to be so fast. Tomorrow it should be hotter, meaning less grip, so I expect a difficult day as far as tyres are concerned."
TIMES (Qualifying): 1. Rea (Honda) 1'31.9; 2. Smrz (Ducati) 1'32.1; 3. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'32.1; 4. Checa (Ducati) 1'32.2; 5. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'32.3; 6. Canepa (Ducati) 1'32.3; 7. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'32.4; 8. Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1'32.4; 9. Melandri (BMW) 1'32.5; Fabrizio(BMW) 1'32.6
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